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.

Interview with Peter J Black: Racial vilifaction vs freedom of speech

A recent controversy over a blatantly racist page on Facebook - and Facebook's delay in taking the page down - raised the issue of how best to address cases of blatant racial vilification. Similar issues were raised with the trial of Andrew Bolt for columns he wrote which were found to breach the Racial Discrimination Act. I recently spoke about these issues with law lecturer Peter J Black, who ...

Advertisement

Questioning Question Time (again)

There have been many comments made about how badly Question Time in the Australian Parliament looks in comparison to the Question Time in the UK House of Commons recently shown on local television. This piece by Katherine Murphy in The Age is a good example. Its opening paragraphs state that "there is no more grinding and time-wasting ritual in federal politics" than the "pathetic", "banal and pointless spectacle" ...

Interview with Greens’ Senator Scott Ludlam on this week’s 4ZZZ show

This week I had the privilege of having Greens' Senator Scott Ludlam in the studio for an interview.  Together with my regular interlocutor, Mr Peter J Black, we spoke about the recent carbon pricing announcement, the internet filter and the NBN, and nuclear waste, nuclear power and Fukushima. You can listen to it all by clicking on this link - (unfortunately due to copyright laws I have to edit out ...

Should we give a shit about shit happens?

Here I am trying to convince myself that I should pay closer attention to political debate in Australia and I discover the big story of the day is that Tony Abbott said "shit happens" (again). It's gone berserk on Twitter - but as experienced Press Gallery journo Karen Middleton put it:"Summary of the day. Julia wept. Tony shook. Hello 2011. You are as weird as 2010. #shithappens" I suppose one ...

Our obsession with stopping boat people

I've written a short piece on the Asian Correspondent website about the Australian media coverage of Julia Gillard's visit to south-east Asia. I've been frustrated, but not surprised, that the majority of the coverage - at least amongst what I've seen - has been focused on the issue of a few thousand asylum seekers who arrive here in boats, and so little on the significant economic, human rights, environmental, ...

Latest Brisbane Media Map launched

Tonight I was at Kelvin Grove campus of QUT to speak briefly at the launch of the latest annual update of the Brisbane Media Map, which is put together by final year Media and Communications students from QUT’s Creative Industries Faculty. They describe it as “an online resource that provides a comprehensive guide to the media and communication industries in Brisbane and the surrounding areas.” Apart from being a valuable ...

New Matilda reborn

Back in May, I noted the closure of New Matilda, a website which provided one of the few independent political media outlets in Australia. Creating a viable financial model for such projects is difficult, and they weren't able to consistently cover their costs. However, they are obviously a determined bunch at New Matilda, as they are giving it another go. The website was resurrected last week, and rather than ...

Peter Black on 4ZzZ

Around 8:30 on the Monday morning radio program I do each week on community radio station 4ZzZ-FM, I talk with Peter Black, a law lecturer, political commentator and social media connoisseur, about some issues of the week. He posts a recording of these on his blog, so I thought I would link to them here for anyone who is interested in listening to them.  This week's chat is at this ...

New Matilda folding

Some sad news for independent media today, with the announcement that the New Matilda website is likely to be shutting up shop at the end of next month. As most readers would be aware, I've had a number of pieces published on New Matilda over the years. I'm sure I'll still be able to find places to publish my pieces if and when I want, but I'll certainly miss ...

The loathsome part of politics

From the very first day after I’d finished my term in the Senate in July 2008 – in fact for many weeks before I’d even formally finished – there would be no question I have been asked more frequently that the one about whether I miss being in politics and whether I’m enjoying being out of it.  Even months after having announced I was getting formally involved with ...

South Australian electoral law to affect blogs?

I just saw this piece on The Advertiser's site about a new law which has come into force in South Australia The law "requires internet bloggers, and anyone making a comment on next month's state election, to publish their real name and postcode when commenting on the poll." The law will affect anyone posting a comment on an election story on mainstream news websites.  It reportedly also applies to social networking sites, and ...

Social Housing – old antagonisms die hard

Paul Syvret is one of the regular writers for the Courier-Mail. When he’s not writing pieces about politics and the economy – usually in a manner which tries to make economic news intelligible – he writes general opinion pieces. Maybe it’s the opportunity to sound off about something other than economics and politics, but from time to time he really lets fly. What is interesting is not that ...

Journalist says she likes politicians. It must be Christmas!

Annabel Crabb has written a piece on the ABC's new website, The Drum, admitting that she likes politicians - and then even goes on to say why. Perhaps not surprisingly, I think it is a good piece, although the Christmas spirit of goodwill might have made her a bit more charitable than she needed to be.  It does make some important points though, including about the impacts that the ...

God’s judgement?

Mackay based MP James Bidgood has been in political hot water for selling to the media a photo he took of a person outside Parliament House who had tried to set himself alight.  Graham Young has queried what all the fuss is about – a view I tend to agree with. If it was wrong to take and sell the photo, it would also be wrong for the ...

Review of NT Intervention

There are lots of coverage and comment about the report by the independent group reviewing the Northern Territory intervention.  This is one of the more important amongst the many reviews set in train by the federal government. I hope the government is able to ignore the politics and focus on the substance of the report. As I said many times in the various pieces I have written about the ...

Questioning Question Time

Despite the disproportionate amount of attention often given to Question Time in the federal parliament, I have long felt that it is not only an absurd parody of an accountability mechanism, it can also distort the direction and content of political debate. So I was pleased to see last week that outgoing Senate President, long-serving Liberal Senator Alan Ferguson (now in the role of Senate Deputy President), gave his ...

Blogs are part of the mainstream media – in the USA at least

I’ve just realised that a week ago was the fourth anniversary of starting up this blog, which gives me cause to reflect on how tiresome it is to still see the stale, dead-end ‘journalists versus bloggers’ argument being aired far too often. This recent, very over-defensive effort in The Australian is an example - written by Christian Kerr, who developed his career through commentary in the independent media and should ...

Belated baby photo!

I had an unexpected reminder when I opened today’s Courier-Mail of just how cute my daughter was as a baby. An unnamed uncredited photo of my daughter at one day old with her tiny fingers wrapped around my thumb, was used to illustrate a story (syndicated from the Daily Mail) about older men fathering children. The newspaper obviously just used a stock newborn baby photo from their archives, ...

Sexualisation of children report

The Senate Committee report into the sexualisation of children was tabled last week. It doesn’t seem to have pleased some of the children’s advocacy groups, or Family First for that matter. Clive Hamilton, who has campaigned on the issue for some time, is also pretty peeved, if his piece in Crikey is anything to go by – although I have to say I found his ‘pretend advertising industry memo’ a ...

Courier-Mail (and others) praise the Democrats!

Understandably, there are plenty of media stories in recent times noting the imminent end of the Democrats' presence in the Senate. No doubt there'll be more over the next week or so. It was sweet to read in today's Courier-Mail editorial that the Democrats demise "is unfortunate". They state that the party "earned a deservedly high reputation for being scrupulous and tough in negotiation", their "achievements in that period ...

Next,

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.