Bartlett's Blog

Andrew Bartlett has been active in politics for over 20 years, including as a Queensland Senator from 1997-2008. This blog started in 2004 and reflects his own views, independent of any political party or organisation.

Good and bad ways to reduce boat arrivals

Peter Mares is a long time follower of refugee issues and critic of the problems inherent in the former government’s approach to asylum seekers in boats.  He wrote a piece in The Age which emphasised a point about the Howard’s government asylum policies which does not get highlighted enough. former treasurer Peter Costello wrote in these pages that the only way to prevent asylum seekers coming to Australia by ...


The last refugees leave Nauru. Should we allow Nauruans to come too?

I visited Nauru on four separate occasions between 2003 and 2007. I have written many articles and blog posts and given many speeches on the disgraceful abuse of human rights and degrading of basic human decency known as the Pacific Solution, where well over a thousand asylum seekers – including many children - were forcibly removed to that island and kept there in a situation of extreme isolation, ...

Nauru detention centre closure welcomed – Change law to stop it happening again and let Nauruans in too

Queensland Senator Andrew Bartlett has welcomed the end to detaining refugees on Nauru, but has called on the federal government to amend the Migration Act to prevent similar actions being done in the future. In the six years that the Nauru detention centres operated, Senator Bartlett was the only Senator to go to the centres, making four visits over four years to meet with refugees and examine conditions. "The Nauru ...

Burmese refugees on Nauru must be brought to Australia

Democrats' immigration spokesperson Andrew Bartlett has supported the growing calls for the federal government to immediately bring to Australia the seven Burmese refugees who are on being kept on Nauru. Senator Bartlett, who spoke with the men during a visit to Nauru in April this year, said it was simply prolonging the men's suffering for no purpose to keep them stuck on Nauru. "The whole world is now being reminded ...

Taxpayers pay for government to use refugees as political pawns on Nauru

Democrats' Immigration spokesperson Andrew Bartlett has welcomed the Australian government's official recognition of the refugee status of 72 Sri Lankans who were removed to Nauru earlier this year, but says it is unacceptable that the government intends to leave them detained indefinitely on Nauru. Senator Bartlett visited the refugees in Nauru in April this year during his fourth visit to the detention facilities there, and has received regular communication ...

HREOC must have access to Nauru facilities: Bartlett

Democrats' Immigration spokesperson Senator Andrew Bartlett says it is vital that the Human Rights Commissioner is able to visit Nauru's offshore detention facility. "Some of the refugees there now have been in detention for a year and there are reports of hunger strikes starting up, yet the federal government wants to prevent any independent scrutiny," Senator Bartlett said. "The government's refusal to allow the Human Rights Commissioner access is another ...

Tampa Six years on: report confirms the ‘price too high’

A new report released on the eve of Tampa Day, six years after the incident that defined the Australian government’s disgraceful new approach to asylum seekers, confirms the enormous human and financial cost of the extreme and brutal 'Pacific Solution', according to Democrats Immigration spokesperson, Senator Andrew Bartlett. The report compiled by Oxfam and A Just Australia, titled A Price Too High: the cost of Australia's approach to asylum ...

One more piece on the Pacific

I had a piece published at Online Opinion today which deals with one more aspect relating to my recent visit to Nauru.

Out of sight, out of mind?

Two weeks ago I attended a hearing of the Parliament's Migration Committee which heard clear evidence that Australian businesses in many areas are still finding it difficult to find available workers, for unskilled as well as skilled and semi-skilled work. This situation not only inhibits earnings for those businesses, it costs all Australians by keeping economic activity and earnings below capacity. A week later, I was in Nauru looking ...

One by one the guests arrive, the guests are coming through

On all my visits to Nauru, I have stayed at the Menem Hotel, one of only two hotels on the island.  The last three times I've been in the same room, which is called the presidential suite.  This is due to the fact that it seems to always be the only room that is free, not to any taste for luxury on my part – not that it ...

Visit to Nauru

Following is a report on aspects of my recent visit to Nauru, focusing on the asylum seekers and refugees there.

Nauru, again

I’ve just returned from a quick two day visit to Nauru – my fourth in four years. I had a look at the recently renovated facility where the refugees are staying and met with many of them. There has been a different situation each visit I’ve made, and this one was no different in being different. I also visited a local pre-school, met with Australian government officials ...

Update on Sri Lankan asylum seekers – flown to Nauru today

At the time I am writing this, 82 asylum seekers are within an hour of being put on a chartered plane, along with 68 accompanying Australian officials. The charter flight the federal government solely to fly 8 Burmese refugees from Christmas Island to Nauru in October last year cost $225 000. I presume this flight is a larger plane. The government’s figures say the average cost of maintaining ...

Repeating the mistakes of the past – more people forced to Nauru

After a ridiculous wait of nearly a month, dithering and chewing up many thousands of taxpayers dollars, the federal government has finally announced they will be sending over 80 Sri Lankan asylum seekers to be 'processed' on Nauru. This has of course been done before, and we know what happened.


Queensland Democrat Senator Andrew Bartlett condemned the move to transfer 82 Sri Lankan asylum seekers from Christmas Island to Nauru as a waste of taxpayers money that does nothing to enhance border protection or deter people smugglers. "Australian taxpayers and asylum seekers are the only people disadvantaged by the government's Pacific Solution," Senator Bartlett said. "This is a brutal, inhuman and cynical way of dealing with the claims of those ...


Democrat Immigration spokesperson Senator Andrew Bartlett has welcomed news of the release of Iraqi refugee, Muhammad Faisal from detention after a protracted battle over his security status, but condemned the extreme and unnecessary suffering that was inflicted on him. "The news that he has finally received the all clear from ASIO and can now be released into the care of a supportive community is a great relief," Senator Bartlett ...

Last refugee on Nauru to be free

Some very welcome news has come through that the last of the original refugees on Nauru, Mohammed Sagar, has finally been offered resettlement in another country – reportedly in a Scandinavian country. I have written about him and his Iraqi compatriot, Mohammad Faisal, on this website a number of times – here and here are some examples. This article by Michael Gordon in the Sydney Morning ...

Out of Nauru

I'm posting this on Thursday night from my hotel room in Fiji, having just arrived here from Nauru. This post is just an initial outline - I will provide more in-depth reflections about the situation of the asylum seekers and other aspects of the situation in Nauru and my visit there in later posts, and also in the refugees section of my main website. After arriving back from Canberra ...

Bartlett challenges Vanstone to visit Nauru and talk with the families in detention

Australian Democrats’ Leader Senator Andrew Bartlett has called on Federal Immigration Minister, Amanda Vanstone, to visit Nauru and meet with the families she is keeping imprisoned there at taxpayers’ expense. Senator Bartlett, who recently returned from a second visit to detainees on the island, told a refugee forum in Adelaide today that, “Australia is totally responsible for hundreds of people having been imprisoned on Nauru for well over two ...

Senator Andrew Bartlett: When human lives no longer matter

When human lives no longer matter An edited version of this article appeared in the Australian on July 31st 2003. When human lives no longer matter An edited version of this article appeared in the Australian on July 31st 2003. Walking into the Topside Camp, established by the Australian Government on Nauru to detain those asylum seekers intercepted in Australian waters, I was unsure what to expect. I have visited every migration detention ...


Mini Posts

  • Rhetoric vs reality

    I’ve had a break from writing for a variety of reasons, but the reckless approach the new Queensland government is taking to their spending decisions – and the straightout nonsensicality of some of their claims – roused me enough to pen a piece for New Matilda. Time will tell whether the Newman government will start trying to ensure their statements have some connection with reality – I suggest the way they respond next year to the findings of the inquiry into child safety which they’ve established will be a significant test.

  • End of LP the end of a blogging era

    Back in October, I wrote here about the decline or re-defining of blogs, at least in the Australian political arena.  The relatively few posts I’ve done on this blog since then shows how much less useful I find it to do my own blog than I used to, and as I mentioned back then, a big reason why I don’t read many of the blogs I used to is because the valuable links to many interesting stories, ideas and pieces of information can be found more easily through Twitter or Facebook, sometimes with comment threads which are also at least as good.

    The recent announcement by the Larvatus Prodeo blog that they are ceasing to operate is quite a significant one. (more…)

  • A final comment on Labor’s leadership laments

    Fundamentally, I don’t greatly care about the outcome of Labor’s leadership travails. As my previous post indicates, the bigger issue is that the ALP is being fundamentally damaged by the toxicity of this brawl, and the fact that the brawl is happening in this way is a sign of some much greater problems within Labor. Whatever the immediate outcome, I think those problems are likely to continue.  The outcome of the leadership contest (including the size of what will surely be a Gillard victory) will shape how those problems play out, but they will still be there.

    Not surprisingly, I see this as presenting an opportunity for the Greens to build some support, but more importantly it presets extra responsibility and obligation for the Greens to be a stronger counter to what is a seriously reactionary Coalition.

    But seeing we’re all pundits now, and despite having little inside knowledge, my prediction is that there will be no ‘third candidate’ in tomorrow’s leadership ballot.  Julia Gillard will win comfortably. The instability will not disappear. It’s quite possible there will be another leadership ballot before the election but Kevin Rudd will not become leader then either. No matter how good Kevin Rudd looks in the polls, that polling lead would disappear very quickly if he was back in the PM’s job.

  • The Ups & Downs of Ups & Downs – interview with Greg Atkinson

    I’ve mentioned before my liking for the 80s Brisbane band Ups and Downs. I got a chance to interview their lead singer Greg Atkinson on 4ZzZ FM a few weeks ago. They’ve released a compilation CD of 20 of their best tunes and played a gig in Brisbane earlier this month to promote and celebrate it.

    It was a fairly long interview, but I found it very interesting to hear the views of someone who has been active in the independent sphere of the music industry for so long about what has changed and what is the same.

    You can listen to the interview at this link.

  • Speeches to refugee rally + SIEV-X exhibition

    A local activist helpfully recorded speeches given by myself and by Julian Burnside at a refugee rights rally held in Brisbane last Saturday.  You can listen to them here and here. The rally was held to mark the tenth anniversary of the sinking of the SIEV-X.  353 refugees drowned when that refugee boat sank on the way to Australia on 19 October 2001.  There is a beautiful exhibition at The Studio on the ground level at the State Library of Qld this week, commemorating that anniversary. It finishes this weekend – I strongly recommend you try to get along for a look if you have a chance. The Library also has a screening of the documentary Hope on Friday October 28 – this film tell the story of Amal Basry, one of the few survivors of that tragedy.