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.

One Last Hurdle? – 18 years since Senate Committee called for Jump Racing ban

Racing Victoria meets tomorrow (Wednesday 13 May) to decide whether or not to finally follow every other state (except South Australia) in banning jumps racing. (UPDATE - decision postponed until "later in the week") Nearly a year ago, I said such a ban was well overdue. Instead, there was another review, followed by more ‘improvements’, followed by more horse deaths.  At the time I mentioned there had been two ...


Olympics a contest between athletes, not countries?

Phil and other commenters at Larvatus Prodeo bemoan the Medal Tally fixation of the media’s Olympic Games coverage. It doesn't sit terribly well with Article 6 in Chapter 1 of the Olympic Charter, which states that “the Olympic Games are competitions between athletes in individual or team events and not between countries.”

Shock! Authoritarian dictatorship restricts information & breaks public pledge – who could have predicted it?

The International Olympic Committee has been putting on a gold medal performance with their attempts to look surprised by the Chinese government’s brazen censorship of the internet and restrictions on the actions of journalists, in breach of the pledges they made when the were awarded the Games. Here's a link to the IOC's Fundamental "Principles" of Olympism, which includes many noble assertions, such as "Olympism seeks to create a ...

Jump racing ban overdue

Two more horses were killed today in a hurdles race at Melbourne’s Flemington race course. There had  already been eight horses killed in Victorian jump races since March. The Minister has promised to bring forward his review as a consequence, but there were already reviews six years ago and three years ago.

A sporting chance for refugees

After some of the public attacks on refugees from Africa which occurred in the lead up to last years election for allegedly 'not integrating', with the worst inferences being targeted at young males, it was good to see a story in today’s Australian newspaper highlighting the positive expectations for African refugees in the future of Australian soccer. Four African refugees - from Sudan, Congo, Ethiopia and Liberia – are ...

Torching the Olympic spirit

When the Olympic Torch made its brief stop over for a run around the block in Canberra last week, Australia's International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials gushed about the "values of the Olympic movement", coupled with some tsk-tsking about pesky protestors 'hijacking' that movement for their political agendas. It seems to me that the many people, in Australia and around the world – and most tellingly within China itself - ...

German Chancellor to boycott Beijing Olympics

The news that the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, is not attending the Olympic Games is a reminder that there is a lot more to boycotts than governments telling athletes they can’t go. According to the report, the Prime Minister of Poland, Donald Tusk, and the Czech President Vaclav Klaus, have also stated they will not attend the Opening Ceremony. Germany’s Foreign Minister and Sports Mininster are also not attending. "The ...

If the Olympics were being held in Zimbabwe would we want to be part of it?

The human rights record of the Chinese Communist Party government has been a matter of closer examination since the International Olympic Committee decided the 2008 Olympic Games would be held in Beijing. The current violence in Tibet has increased that focus.  The argument made by many people was the extra global scrutiny that would occur with the holding of the Games in Beijing would encourage the Chinese government to ...

Cricket, now and then

It was over three weeks ago that I wrote a post on the public furore after the Sydney Test match between the Australian and Indian cricket teams, but the public controversy is still going.  Now even the Governor-General has spoken out on the topic, expressing concern about "the reduction in the grace and courtesies that are being shown on the cricketing field" and labelling sledging as being that worst of all ...

It’s cricket, but not as we knew it

While I don’t follow it anywhere near as closely as I used to, I still retain an affection for Test cricket, (as opposed to the limited over stuff which can be entertaining but is ultimately disposable). I keep a half-eye on the games played around the world (with much greater frequency than a few decades ago) and usually spend a bit of time around this time of year ...

A curling diversion

Like every politician, I receive lots of invitations to many different types of events. Deciding which ones to accept is even harder than usual in the lead up to and during election campaigns. I have a small ‘reserve pile’ of ones I’d like to attend for interest’s sake, but would have to forgo if another engagement or obligation came up. I had one such invite tonight which even during ...

Way past time for sporting boycott of Zimbabwe

The Weekend Australian reported that “pressure is building on the Australian cricket team to call off its tour to Zimbabwe later this year and join a sporting embargo similar to the one that helped end apartheid in neighbouring South Africa.” Frankly, I find it extraordinary that there is any prospect at all of any Australian sporting team touring that country whilst Mugabe remains in power. I appreciate there can ...

Respect, justice, equality – top cricket that!

Andrew Robb, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, has just announced the federal government will provide $700,000 in funding "for a range of projects that will encourage communities to participate in the Australian way of life." This includes funding of $85 000 for CricKids Playing in Harmony, which is "an educational resource which will nationally promote the principles of respect, justice, equality, fair play, ...

Lions farewell Brad Scott – and Aker

I was at Don Chipp’s funeral today – more on that later. Meanwhile – as perhaps befits Don’s status as a former Fitzroy player (albeit only 3 or so senior games and a lifetime as a very strong Carlton fan) - this post is about the Lions final game for the season. Tonight’s game was the last for Brad Scott and also was the last game where Jason Akermanis ...

Inquiry into Women in sport

I was back in Canberra again on Friday for another Committee hearing, this time for our Inquiry into women's sport and recreation.


Apologies for the gratuitous parachiolism, but that State of Origin win by Queensland tonight had to be one of the best since Origin started in 1980. To hold the line and then come back to win, after being denied one try and then having the opposition basically handed two, is one of the most commendable performances I can recall - especially in a series deciding game. Not ...

World in Motion

World Cup frenzy has permeated such a wide spectrum of the Australian community that even the Green Party have put out a media release saying they “will be supporting our home team and cheering every goal from Parliament next week.” I’m in Canberra now for the next fortnight’s Senate sittings. As part of getting into the World Cup mood, a Parliamentary team is playing a game of soccer this ...

Netball pay battle

I read a story in this weekend’s Courier-Mail which mentions a “wages battle” that is apparently happening in Australia’s national netball league at the moment. It reports players from all teams in each of the four First Round matches of this year’s national league participated in short on-court protests before the start of their games. The report also says that “Netball Australia is set to hand negotiations back ...

National Parks & Women’s Sport

I’ve mentioned before that I Chair the Senate’s Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts References Committee (often called ECITA for short)

Do you play cricket?

I managed to get in a game of cricket today for the first time in about ten months. I’ve been playing occasional games for about five years now in a winter competition in Brisbane.


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.