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.

recycling old arguments and old media techniques

For some reason, The Australian newspaper has been running story after story raising fears about long-standing plans to purify and recycle water back into Brisbane’s dams.  It looked bizarre enough a week ago, but we're now reaching the two week mark with no sign of a let up.  The headlines have been a disgrace - from "Flush then drink in the sunshine state" two weeks ago, to today's ...

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Campaign against Traveston Dam paddles onward

If you're in Brisbane this Saturday morning, you can lend support to the campaign against the Traveston Dam by farewelling marathon kayaker Steve Posselt as he heads off on another journey to spread the message.  He's leaving around 12 noon from the boat ramp at West End on Riverside Drive, between Jane and Boundary Streets.  Last time he paddled from Brisbane up to the site of the dam, ...

Olympian water diversions

Interesting piece on the Forbes website detailing the huge amounts of water being taken from Chinese farmers by the central government to provide for the Beijing Olympics.  (found thru James5)

Kayaking crusade continues

It was over three weeks ago that I wrote about Steve Posselt’s kayaking crusade to highlight the stupidity of the planned Traveston Dam on the Mary River. On April 12th, he started his month long journey kayaking up the Brisbane River, down the Mary River and back down to Brisbane. He’s now paddling his way back down the coast, having reached Noosa on the weekend and now heading into ...

Paddling furiously trying to stop dam stupidity

I went to a boat ramp in inner-city West End this morning to help support kayaker (and water engineer) Steve Posselt as he started a month long journey aimed at drawing attention to the stupidity of the Queensland Labor government’s Traveston Dam. His journey is called “Don’t Murray the Mary” – a call not to knowingly stuff up the Mary River as we have the River Murray. Stevehas previoulsy taken his kayak ...

Watery campaigning

I visited Maryborough, Bundaberg and Gympie today, travelling around in a small twin engine plane and driving the last part from Gympie back to Brisbane, getting back home about 11pm. I spoke mainly about water issues (as well as about the specific importance of the Queensland Senate contest, which not surprisingly I do everywhere I go). As seems to often happen when I'm campaigning on water, it rained almost ...

Do Queenslanders care about the Queensland lungfish?

I’ve lived all my life in south-east Queensland, and it’s fair to say that sometimes Queenslanders can be very parochial. We grab onto all sorts of things to try to show how Queenslanders are special, especially if it makes us look better than the ‘southerners’. Parochialism isn’t unique to Queensland of course, but we can certainly lay it on thick sometimes. But occasionally I have to wonder ...

Dam hearings

The public hearings are being held for the Senate Committee inquiry into water supplies in south-east Queensland, which is focused particularly on the proposed Traveston Dam on the Mary River just south of Gympie. There is a fairly full program of witnesses on both days.

Ten billion dollars? A mere bagatelle

Those of us who suspected the federal government's grand Murray-Darling basin rescue plan was policy on the run had our suspicions confirmed in Senate Estimates hearings last night, when the government's Senate Leader, Nick Minchin, confirmed that the $10 billion package did not go to Cabinet for approval before it was announced. Further evidence provided this morning indicates that the Department of Finance was informed about the ...

Dam pleased and grumpy at the same time

I am pleased that Coalition Senators have agreed there should be a Senate Inquiry into the proposed Traveston Dam. I am even more pleased that the terms of reference for the Inquiry will require other options for water supply and demand to be considered. It will provide a chance for more of the facts to come out in the open, for the public to have more of a ...

Drink it, Morris, drink it

I seek to make this blog strongly independent and non-partisan as much as possible, so seeing my previous post had a grumpy dig at some federal Liberals, I thought I would balance the scales here by having a rant about the continued cowardly foolishness of the Labor Premiers in refusing to adopt the use of purified recycled water. In some ways this is worse, as my criticism ...

Premier takes notice of the blindingly obvious!! Plebiscite cancelled and water recycling to go ahead.

Amazing news in today's Sunday Mail that Premiers Beattie & Bligh are about to announce they are scrapping the plebiscite planned for March 17th and proceeding with the recycling of water into the drinking supply of Brisbane and surrounding areas.

Rivers of Beef

You know the water crisis has got really serious when The Courier-Mail runs a piece which starts with the suggestion that "we must ban beer and Coke and stop eating beef."

Is Australia’s psyche at risk if we don’t save every farmer?

In amongst the stories of genuine distress from many rural areas in Australia, the debate is emerging again of how far should we go to keep farmers on the land. The widespread acceptance that climate change is a reality which may be exacerbating current and future droughts adds an extra layer to the debate. Agriculture Minister, Peter McGuaran, has said the government is "going to fight to save ...

Water Recycling

Last Saturday I launched a petition to encourage people living in South East Queensland to express their support for fully reusing wastewater. It has been made clear time and again that most political leaders at state and local level generally do not have the courage to bring in full water recycling because they are too scared of a community backlash. So the more people in the South-East Qld ...

Rally in Gympie against Mary River dam

As mentioned in my previous post, I attended a rally in Gympie on Wednesday night against the Qld Labor government's planned mega-dam on the Mary River (usually known as the Traveston Dam or the Traveston Crossing Dam, although sometimes also the Mary River Dam or Mary Valley Dam). The turnout at the hall at the Gympie Showgrounds was very impressive.

Dam rally

The people facing the flooding of their communities by the Beattie Government's mega-dam on the Mary River are certainly not giving up. There is a rally being held tonight at the Show Pavillion in Gympie from 6.30 pm, which I am going along to. It sounds obvious, but it is still an important point to make - the most essential part in winning a campaign against bad government decisions is ...

Lies, Dam Lies and Dams

If comments by Federal Environment Minister, Ian Campbell in today's papers are anything to go by, he will need some convincing to use his powers under the EPBC Act to stop the planned mega-dam on the Mary River. The Minister can also approve a project under conditions that could be portrayed as mitigating the impacts on relevant matters such as endangered species and world heritage values of ...

Rathdowney Dam – Scrapped!

The announcement that the Queensland government is now planning to build a new dam at Wyaralong rather than Rathdowney is a good example of the importance of community campaigning, and not giving up in the face of government pressure. It is big win for a local community that has been very seriously under threat, and a tribute to the work of many who refused to give up ...

Rathdowney Dam

Rathdowney is a small town sitting right next to the place where a dam is planned to be built by the Queensland government. It is one of two dams Peter Beattie announced without warning back in April to create the appearance that he was acting decisively to 'fix' South-East Queensland's water crisis. The other site is at Traveston, on the Mary River, not too far south ...

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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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