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.

Where to next with climate change battle?

Earlier this week, I spoke with Kellie Caught, head of climate change campaigning with WWF in Australia, about the outcomes of the conference in Durban, as well as what comes next following the package of Clean Energy and carbon pricing legislation that was passed by the Australian Parliament last month.   You can listen to that interview at this link. The legislative package passed with the support of ...


Climate Change package and the Senate

Barack Obama's visit to Canberra this week has generated a lot of attention.  But I was much happier being  in Canberra last week for the Senate’s historic vote to pass the package of legislation that will finally start moving Australia towards a clean energy future. I partly wanted to be there as a way to bear witness to the efforts of so many members and MPs of the Australian ...

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 ...

Brisbane climate change forum

Last Tuesday night, I was part of an election forum on climate change with the other two main candidates for the seat of Brisbane.  It was quite well attended, and included media representatives from the Courier-Mail, Brisbane Times and ABC Online. It also used a question format where people wrote down their questions and then had a moderator group them in topics and ask them, rather than questions ...

Geo-engineering: partial response to the coal vs climate battle?

Jeff Goodell is an American who wrote a book called “Big Coal: the dirty secret behind America’s future” – there’s a good interview with him about this book on You Tube at this link.  He’s written a new book called “Cooling the Planet”, which is about geo-engineering: scientists who are researching the ways we could use technology to alleviate global warming. I’ve occasionally read articles about such research, and ...

Mountains of Coal

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post about mountaintop mining in the USA. All mining has some impact, but the sheer destructiveness of this type of mining is astonishing - and that's before you take into account the greenhouse impact of the coal. This article in the New York Times details the potential impact of a similar project in West Virginia. The significance of this proposal ...

Recent data on the climate

For those interested in basic facts about temperature trends in Australia and globally over recent decades, there is a great post over at Lavartus Prodeo by Brian Banisch, who has been following the data and the various scientific reports on this issue for a long time. Very much worth having a read of for those who are just wanting some facts.

What will happen if/when Copenhagen fails?

It seems more and more likely that the Copenhagen Summit will fall well short of what many people had hoped for. Some hope that the arrivals of some key players like  President Obama and India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh might still help bring about a positive outcome, but it is hard to see it happening. If the Copenhagen outcome does fall short, a crucial factor in what happens next ...

Report on the Pacific & climate change forum

Last night I attended the public forum I wrote about here, featuring Pacific Island peoples speaknig about the impacts of climate change on their homelands, health and cultures. It was very well attended and the speakers were engaging and enlightening. I've published a piece about it over at Crikey at this link. If for some reaon you want to see my efforts at live-Tweeting the forum, ...

Pacific Islanders speaking at climate change forum in Brisbane

Oxfam Australia has just released a report on the impacts of climate change in the Pacific.  It details impacts which are already occurring for some Islands in the Pacific region. The report’s release is timed in the lead up to the upcoming meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum, being held next week in Cairns. That Forum in turn is occurring in the lead up to the climate ...

Major climate change rally in Brisbane on Saturday

Anyone in Brisbane who believes climate change presents a serious threat which needs much stronger action than has occurred to date should consider trying to get along to a rally happening tomorrow (Saturday).  It’s being held at 1pm in the city at Queens Park (corner of George & Elizabeth Sts. It’s billed as a National Climate Emergency Rally, and is one of a number of similar rallies being held ...

Emission Trading Scheme announced

The federal government has announced its greenhouse gas emissions target for 2020 of a 5 to 15 per cent reduction on what emission levels were in 2000.  The full details are here.  There are lots of figures scattered, which can all feel like a bit of a blur after a while.  But the simple fact is that a 5 per cent reduction target is abysmally low – about the best that ...

Common Ground forum on climate change in Sydney

I’ve got another speaking engagement coming up next week in Sydney. On Wednesday 26th November, at Customs House in Sydney I’ll be part of a panel at a forum discussing actions on climate change. It’s organised by the Centre for Policy Development.  It is one of their ‘Common Ground’ forums - a concept seeks to encourage public debates that explore areas of agreement to “shine a spotlight on areas ...

Saturday – kayaking to stop the dam, or going veg to help stop climate change

The Courier-Mail’s Environment Blog gave a mention to the event I’m speaking at this Saturday. As I wrote last week, it’s from 11am at Reddacliff Place at the top of Queen St Mall – one of a number of similar events being held around the country to promote the environmental benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets. Even the final report by Ross Garnaut has explicitly acknowledged the significant contribution livestock makes ...

Vegetarian week – reducing Australia’s most powerful climate forcing agent

Next week is National Vegetarian Week, so be prepared for a larger than usual number of examples of people seeking to inform you of the environmental, health and ethical arguments in favour of eating less meat. As I mentioned around the time of Earth Hour, going without meat for a week has far greater greenhouse benefits than turning your lights off (although every bit of positive behavioural change helps ...

Queensland government’s hot air on climate change continues unabated

Those who say they accept the general consensus about the threat of rapid and serious climate change but pretend we can prevent it without major and rapid changes to our lifestyle are the real climate change deniers. Even though I strongly disagree with those who genuinely believe that climate change is either not real or doesn’t pose a significant economic, social and environmental threat, I can cope with that ...

Carbon Pollution Reduction Green Paper

There is heaps around the blogs giving some detailed analysis of the government’s greenhouse green paper, (which doesn’t seem very green at all to me). I’ve put a bunch of links at the end of this post. Given the seriousness and urgency of the threat, I’d rather a focus purely on the policy assessments of whether what’s been put forward is likely to have enough of an impact in ...

plenty of gains in energy efficiency

A new report from the Climate Institute suggests there are big savings Australia can make in improving energy efficiency. While pricing carbon will no doubt help encourage improvements in this area, its another reminder that we need to drive concerted behavioural change, rather than just rely on market forces. The report suggests “there are major opportunities for energy savings in residential, commercial and manufacturing – possibly up to 73%, 70% ...

Greenhouse, governments, Garnaut – and us

The huge crowds that attended each of the public forums held by Professor Ross Garnaut after the recent release of his draft report were quite astonishing, but also very reassuring. I went along to the Brisbane meeting last Friday. It was held in the main auditorium in City Hall. It seats over 1000 people and was pretty much full. Given how hard it is to get large numbers of people along ...

Garnaut and methane

A strong sign of the high level of public interest in climate change and carbon trading is the fact that all the public forums held by Ross Garnaut this week following the release of his report have been full. I am hoping to get to the one in Brisbane tomorrow. There’s been ample commentary about the Garnaut Report and the wider issues in the blogosphere and the mainstream media. I ...


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.

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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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.