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.

The Speech

As the speech itself acknowledges, a single speech can't resolve things.  But it is impossible to overstate how significant it would be if the vision President Obama expresses and aspires to in this speech is successful.  The text of the speech is here, or here for translations into 14 other languages.  It is worth taking the time to listen to and watch as well.

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An amazing and courageous editorial from the grave

The focus on Barack Obama as the person of the moment, and the politician that grabbed the globes imagination throughout 2008 caused me to reflect in this post on other politicians who overcame even higher odds at greater personal costs in 2008.  But it also important to continually remember that there are many other people around the world who show even greater perseverance and courage. Many of them ...

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty 40 years on

This week saw the fortieth anniversary of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). One thing that has often perplexed me is how much the public anxiety about the proliferation of nuclear and other armaments has diminished over the last twenty years. The end of the Cold War could explain some of it, but given the repeated references by various political leaders to the threat of terrorism, a ‘War on Terror’, rogue ...

Misuse of terror laws makes us all less secure

Yet again, a case which received a blaze of publicity over two years ago, adding to unrealistic fear and alarm about Muslims in Australia, has failed when it finally comes to trail - and providing Australia’s Muslims yet another reason to feel less secure and less trusting of our government and law enforcement agencies. Even more worryingly, the judge in the case condemned the conduct of ASIO officers as ...

Dr Haneef’s bail decision in Brisbane – court decision usurped by Ministerial fiat

Dr Mohammed Haneef was given bail this morning on a $10 000 surety, with a requirement he report to police 3 times a week and that he not leave the country. I attended the court for the handing down of the Magistrate’s decision. It should be noted that, had the federal government had their way, this man would be imprisoned for the duration of what could well be ...

Don’t be so Reckless – Terrorist sim cards and terrorist peace activists

News has come through that after being held in custody for nearly two weeks, Gold Coast based Doctor, Mohammed Hanef has now been charged. According to this report,“he has been charged with recklessly supplying a mobile phone sim card to a terrorist organisation.” The offence carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison (originally reported as 25 years). Of course, it will take a long time for the case against ...

The Security Treaty between Australia & Indonesia

Late last year, a security cooperation agreement between Australia and the Republic of Indonesia was signed on the Indonesian island of Lombok. As with all international agreements, this one, which has already picked up the colloquial title of the Lombok Agreement, is being examined by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties. The Committee is still receiving submissions. You can read the ones which have been made public to ...

Terrorists score a big win against democratic values in the USA, while Australia’s Muslims are right to be anxious

The case of a Canadian citizen, Maher Arar, who was secretly sent by the USA government to Syria where he was “interrogated, tortured and held in degrading and inhumane conditions for 10 months after being falsely accused of terrorist ties” has not received a great deal of coverage in the Australian media. However, it is a fair bet that many Muslim Australians are very aware of this case. ...

US Senate Committee rebels – basic foundations of the rule of law hang in the balance

A follow up to my previous post about the review of sedition laws – as noted in one of the comments on that piece, some people see community concern about the sedition laws as just a beat-up by paranoid anti-government left-wingers. Whilst there's certainly been some exaggeration and misunderstanding about what the laws entail and how they could be applied, my key concern is the danger of embedding ...

Fighting Words from the Law Reform Commission

The debate about sedition laws was featured on my old blog in November last year. Readers may remember that the Senate Committee that examined the legislation recommended that the section updating sedition provisions be deleted from the latest 'anti-terror' laws being rushed through Parliament. The government didn't agree with that recommendation and used their Senate majority to ensure the law passed with the sedition provisions retained. ...

September 11 – 5 years on

There are retrospectives and introspectives all over the internet and the mainstream media marking the fifth anniversary of the attacks on New York’s World Trade Centre. The Open Democracy site has a good series of pieces asking a range of people the simple question – “what have we learned”?

Honour Bound

Last night I attended the formal premiere of a theatrical production called "Honour Bound", which deals with David Hicks' incarceration in Guantanamo Bay. The show is running for the next 5 weeks at the Sydney Opera House. The show was certainly interesting and thought-provoking. It goes for just over an hour, painting a picture through visuals, voiceovers and dance.

Sedition – then and now

I always find it interesting to discover historical debates that resonate – and often help illuminate – with the debates of today. I discovered an example of this in a fascinating piece in this week’s New York Times that gives an insight into the use of sedition laws in the past.

Flying? Don’t forget your bag – no joke

I mentioned the Regulations and Ordinances Committee once in an earlier post. This is one of the more low profile Senate Committees, which in some ways adds to its effectiveness. It looks at all the regulations and other disallowable instruments tabled by the government, of which there are more than 1500 each year. It examines the technical adequacy of Regulations and their adherence to basic principles such ...

Turning a Blind Eye to Torture? UPDATED

A report in the Sydney Morning Herald may finally increase the pressure on the Australian government about how willing it has been to turn a blind eye to the use of torture by our ally in the so-called ‘war on terror’.

Can I look at your Google?

Google searches, library requests, emails, SMS, car trips, voice messages, phone conversations, etc can all be mointored and recorded. Does it make us safer? There has been a lot of commentary (such as at Road to Surfdom, the Currency Lad and Larvatus Prodeo) on the recent revelation that US President George Bush authorised widespread secret surveillance and communications intercepts on US citizens (not to mention many others). ...

Guillotine brought in on Terror law after 90 minutes

The Senate started sitting at 12.30pm today, with debate starting on the terror legislation. The speakers list on the Bill circulated by the Government Whip's office had 28 Senators listed as wanting to speak. This initial list included 8 Liberal Senators. This is quite a large number of government Senators to speak on one Bill. The list also included all 8 Democrat and Green ...

Will there be just one day each to debate the welfare changes and the terror law?

The government has released their draft Senate legislation program for next week. It shows just one day – Monday - set aside for the debate on the terror legislation, with only the Tuesday to deal with the welfare changes. The final 3 sitting days have 15 other pieces of legislation listed, including the VSU Bill and the Northern Territory radioactive waste Bill.

Senate Committee reports – the good, the bad and the minority

The Senate Committee report into the terror law that was tabled today provides a very good example of how valuable it can be when a few government Senators show sufficient courage to actually admit to and point out significant flaws in a piece of legislation. On this occasion, the Government (and non-government) Senators recommended over 50 changes that should be made. Margot Kingston's site provides some good ...

Senate reports on terror and welfare laws tabled on Monday

This weekend I am working on my contribution to the Senate Committee report into the government's welfare changes, as well as examining the details of the planned Terror law. The Committee reports into the welfare package and the terror measures will both be tabled in the Senate on Monday afternoon (sometime after 3.30pm). These will give an insight into the potential for any further amendments to ...

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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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • A long time between hits

    In amongst all the politics and policy stuff, I try to make time to do some things that are completely disconnected from that*.  One thing I’ve found myself doing recently is doing a bit of practicing with a band, which has led to me doing a live performance for the first time in a long time.  Readers of this blog with a very long memory for minor matters may recall that I played keyboards in a couple of mini-performances with a band as part of promoting the Rock Against Howard compilation CD prior to the 2004 election.  However, drumming is what I’m better at – although I’m still a long way short of being able to say I’m good at it – which is what I am doing in the band I’m currently doing stuff with.  They’re doing their first full live Brisbane show tonight – which I think will be the first time since 1988 I’ve played drums in a live show.  It’s all nice and low-key, and for peoples’ enjoyment rather with an eye to making money out of it, so will make a nice change. *Actually, I don’t think anything is completely disconnected from politics. By coincidence, today also happens to be National SLAM Day – Save Live Australian Music.  As their website shows,

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • Stuff from my 4ZZZ shift this week

    Every Monday morning I do a shift on radio 4ZzZ FM102.1 – Brisbane’s longest serving community radio station (36 years old this year). And almost every week I talk with social media expert and lawyer Peter Black about some current political and other issues. You can listen to our talk this week by clicking on this link (it goes for over 30 minutes and has the occasional sweary word, so probably best just for dedicated fans). You can see the songlist I played this week – as usual featuring a sizable number of local artists – at this link, which in most cases also contains further links to other videos, information or photos of the artists.

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