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.

Anita Heiss – positive messages in the face of negative attacks

A few weeks ago I interviewed author Anita Heiss about her new book Am I Black Enough For You?  The book is partly a personal memoir and partly explores the issue of Aboriginal identity.  You can listen to the interview at this link. Anita Heiss was one of a number of people who took columnist Andrew Bolt to court for making a range of false claims which in effect ...

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Detention Insanity

There is a well known definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  The current humanitarian disaster unfolding in Australia's immigration detention centres is a classic - and disgraceful example. If there was one unequivocal, indisputable fact that arose from government policy and management of detention centres during the Howard era, it was that it was an incredibly expensive way ...

Improving our country’s Constitution

The moves to recognise Australia's First Peoples in our nation's Constitution are starting to gather pace.  The federal government has pledged to hold a referendum on this by the time of the next election - that is, within 2 years - which is not a lot of time to build community awareness and understanding of the issues. The Panel established to engage and seek community views has set up ...

Time to remove mandatory sentencing of ‘people smugglers’

The groups of people who have suffered most from Australia's long-standing absurdly politicised, disproportionate and irrational debate around asylum seekers are the asylum seekers themselves. But another group who have been subjected to disproportionate and unjustified punishment who get very little attention are the hundreds of impoverished Indonesian fishermen who are subjected to mandatory jail sentences for participating in transporting asylum seekers to Australia. Of course, if we just ...

Just when you think they can’t go any lower ……

I wrote last week about some of the cowardly cheap shots at Muslim Australians being indulged in by some federal MPs from the 'Liberal' Party, spruiking some half-truths and lies in an effort to grow and garnish the minority bigot vote. Such lazy Muslim bashing is sadly far from uncommon, even amongst some people in leadership positions. But that has been well and truly ...

More shameless hate-mongering from some political ‘leaders’

In yet another example of why paying attention to political commentary can be a nausea inducing activity, some senior federal Liberal MPs are yet again engaging in blatant, deliberate and extreme hate-mongering towards Muslim Australians. Former frontbencher and serial Muslim-basher Cory Bernardi equated Islam and the practice of halal meat as "an ideology that is mired in sixth century brutality." I haven't noticed Senator ...

Wikileaks : some thoughts on what is happening and where it might lead

The current Wikileaks/'cablegate' affair raises quite a range of issues, not all of which are clear cut.  But I have to say that one thing which should be beyond dispute is that, whatever one's views might be about what Wikileaks is doing or about Julian Assange as an individual, it is not good enough for our government to sit back and say nothing while senior US political figures ...

Burma: How to help?

I usually complain that the Australian media (and Australians in general) pay little attention to elections and other political events in nations nearby to us in the south-east Asian region.  It is somewhat ironic that the 'election' which seems to be getting a lot of coverage is one which is so unfair and rigged as to barely justify being called an election at all.  None the less, it is ...

The’political correctness’ dog whistle gets another blast

How on earth could anyone possibly believe that public or political debate on asylum seekers is being constrained by political correctness?! For at least the last decade, public commentary in letters to the editor, talkback shows and online forums have contained a vast array of views on this matter, including many that are extremely aggressive, antagonistic, abusive and vilifying - and all of which have clearly not been put ...

Refugee Day Rally & Refugee Week

This Sunday marks the start of Refugee Week, with plenty of events around the country to acknowledge and celebrate the contribution refugees have made and continue to make to our society, culture and economy. I'm speaking at a rally being held in Brisbane Square this Sunday from 1pm to mark World Refugee Day. I have attended many refugee week events over the years, and they often involve people from ...

Wild Rivers

Contention over Queensland's  Wild Rivers legislation has been bubbling along for quite a while now. Unfortunately, as with many issues which become polarised, each "side" is focused on defending their position, which has meant that some important underlying issues are not getting the attention they deserve. I've just had a piece on this topic published at The Drum on the ABC's website.  It's fairly long, so they published it ...

A weekend of campaigning

It’s a fair while since it was announced that I was contesting the House of Reps seat of Brisbane for the Greens at the upcoming federal election.  Since then, I’ve spent a fair bit of time preparing the foundations for that campaign, as well as working within the party on our overall campaign in Queensland.  Whilst I’d love nothing more than winning the seat of Brisbane, my first ...

Speaking out against refugees getting hammered once again

One of Afghanistan's most prominent human rights advocates is in Australia this week attending a conference in Canberra. Nader Nadery has been a commissioner on the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission since it was established in 2002 and he was part of the Afghan delegation to the Bonn conference on Afghan reconstruction after the US led invasion. ELEANOR HALL: What's your view of the Australian Government's change of policy on ...

New book on Palm Island’s history

The latest inquest into the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee in police custody on Palm Island – now well over five years ago - has concluded.  Once again Mulrunji’s family and the wider community will wait for findings to be published – just as they still await the publication of the report by the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) in the flaws in the Police investigation into the death.  The ...

The debate on Bill of Rights continues

Last week I participated in a debate on the Bill of Rights at the University of Queensland.  It was the first in a series of http://www.facebook.com/pages/Politics-in-the-Pub-UQ/333455933896?ref=ts  Politics in the Pub’ style events being held out at the University’s St Lucia campus (although it is really in a club, rather than a pub). I’ve never made any secret of my view that a well designed Bill of Rights legislation would ...

Palm Island Inquest Resumes (again)

It is well over five years since Mulrunji Doomagee died in police custody on Palm Island, his ribs broken and his liver nearly sliced in two.  Previous coronial inquests and trials have wound a tortuous path, with various assertions about the cause of death ranging from the consequences of a “complicated fall” to suggestions Mulrunji’s injuries were inflicted by a more direct methods. Despite past coroner’s investigations, a trial, ...

It was 20 years ago today.

It was 20 years ago today. On 20 November 1989, the international Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC) was formally adopted.  According http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/11/18/us-ratify-children-s-treaty?tr=y&auid=5614841 to Human Rights Watch, the Convention became “the most widely and rapidly ratified human rights treaty in history.  Twenty years on, only two countries have failed to ratify the Convention – Somalia and the USA. In the USA, Presidential action to ratify an international treaty ...

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 ...

Wednesday night politics in Brisbane

Wednesday night politics in Brisbane Two forums are being held in Brisbane tomorrow night which may be of interest to some. One is a forum to debate Integrity & Accountability in Queensland. It is being held at the Irish Club, 175 Elizabeth St  from  6pm.  Speakers include former state Attorney-General, Linda Lavarch, journalist Tony Koch, Brian Stewart from the Urban Development Institute. The other forum is examining some of the current issues ...

Immigration detention and deportation in the USA

There is more evidence that, however unjust and dysfunctional the administration of Australia's immigration laws was in our recent past, it is being outstripped by what has been happening in the USA. There are more and more examples coming to light in the USA that have echoes of the Cornelia Rau and Vivienne Alvarez debacles of the Howard era in Australia.  The reasons these things are happening are similar ...

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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.