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.

Federal Govt cuts funding to housing bodies

One of the most frustrating and perplexing aspects of the Howard government was their dogged determination to completely neglect housing issues - (apart from regularly spruiking their alleged ability to keep mortgage rates lower). For something as fundamental as basic shelter, it always baffled me that the Liberals quite readily vacated the field. The Rudd/Gillard governments did some good qork in reversing this approach, even though they never ...


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 ...

Can we end homelessness? Interview with CEO of US Alliance to end homelessness

A conference was held in Brisbane this week on the topic of Ending Homelessness.  I was part of a panel exploring migrants' interaction with homeless services. One of the main speeches was by Nan Roman, who is the CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness in the USA. I had the chance to interview Nan Roman today on my regular weekly radio shift.  I also spent last weekend ...

What’s COAG doing about housing?

All of the attention on this weekend’s COAG meeting between federal and state governments has focused on funding agreements for health and education. The equally important area of housing seems to have fallen off the public radar.  Click here to read a piece I’ve written at Crikey on this matter.

Keeping housing affordability debate on track

There is certainly a very determined attempt being made around the globe by some of the more ideologically motivated commentators to create a mythology that the genesis of the financial crisis in the USA is somehow due to government measures promoting affordable housing for lower income earners (read: minority groups). The Australian has carried another article trying to make this link, this time by the Director of the Adam ...

House price falls

The economic ramifications of the further fall in house prices in many parts of Australia are being widely debated. Hopefully, it will not cause any let-up in the pressure for further action to address the continuing crisis in housing affordability. Apart from anything else, these house price falls are unlikely to provide much relief for those in the private rental market, which is where the worst price pressures ...

Report into housing affordability tabled

I've written a few earlier posts about the Senate Inquiry into Housing Affordability that was set up earlier this year. The Committee brought down its report yesterday – you can access it by clicking here. Whilst both I and the Greens' Senator Rachel Siewert added some additional comments, the report has 32 recommendations which had the unanimous support of Liberal and Labor Senators. I think it's a very good ...

Housing inquiry hearing in Karratha

I was in Karratha, Western Australia today with the Senate Committee inquiring into housing affordability. I hadn't been to this town before, although I have previously been to Port Hedland, which is 'just up the road' (about 240 kilometres)

Housing Inquiry – Campbelltown to Karratha

I’ve been at public hearings over the last three days for the Senate Committee inquiry into Housing Affordability. I won’t give running commentaries on all the evidence presented here. Anyone wanting to engage in some online discussion on some policy specifics might want to visit Possum Pollytics, which has a few posts on the topic. One of those pointed to a recent easy to read and fairly short speech on ...

Housing Affordability inquiry starts hearings

Public hearings for the Senate Inquiry into housing affordability got underway in Canberra today. The Inquiry is due to report by June 16.  The first day of hearings included evidence from people such as the newly expanded Housing section in the Department of Families, the Master Builders' Association, the Planning Institute, the Urban Development Institute, Housing Industry Association, NATSEM, and Treasury. Submissions and the transcripts of hearings can be ...

Some current Senate Committee Inquiries

The federal Parliament is now on a seven week break, and doesn’t sit again until May 13th, the day the Rudd government brings down its first Budget. In the case of the Senate, this will be just the eleventh sitting day for the year. However, there is a lot of work in the Senate that happens outside of sitting days, not least through Senate Committee inquiries. After spending most ...

Good News – essential item gets far more expensive

In the midst of our nation's worst housing affordability crisis on record, the front page story on Saturday's Courier-Mail newspaper manages to make rocketing house prices into a good news story. The story contains a range of phrases portraying price hikes as positives – such as "solid gains", "healthy price growth", Brisbane "leading the way .. with consistent price growth" and "suburbs within 10km of the city performing especially well" ...

Forums today on Housing and equal rights

Today I’m releasing a package of measures aimed at the housing affordability crisis. It’s an issue I’ve been pushing on for years, and whilst it has finally started to get some political traction at federal level in recent months (mainly because the crisis has got so bad it can no longer be ignored, even by the federal government), there has been surprisingly little focus on it in the ...

Mackay & Rockhampton

I’ve been travelling for the last few days, visiting Mackay and Rockhampton in Central Queensland. Trying to cover the whole state of Queensland is a tall ask, but I try to squeeze in meetings with as many groups and people as possible when I do visit a place. The biggest issue on these visits has been housing affordability and availability. This is atrociously bad in this region, ...

Housing affordability debate gains more momentum?

Housing affordability is so bad, even Peter Costello is now having to give the impression that he might do something about it – announcing the Commonwealth “would conduct an audit of commonwealth-owned land to determine areas that could be released for new housing to ease the affordability crisis.” So during all those years the federal govenrment was beating up on the states for not releasing enough land, they never ...

national movement on housing affordability?

There are signs federal Labor might be prepared to engage on the crucial, but politically tricky issue of housing affordability in the lead up to the election. Reports today say they are “considering introducing a superannuation-style savings account to help Australians buy their first home”

Affordable housing crisis IV

There has been another flurry of stories this week about the continuing deterioration in housing affordability. Ron Silberberg from the Housing Industry Association said “this is a national crisis that requires a national response if a whole generation is not to be shut out of home ownership.” I’ve been calling for this repeatedly for years, as have many others from across the spectrum who work in the ...

Indigenous housing dream

All the Budget handouts in the world will not help address one the key causes of growing inequality, poverty and disadvantage in Australia, which is the crisis in housing affordability. Indeed, initiatives relating directly to housing are not very common in recent Budgets. However, reports have suggested that this year may see some new housing specific spending in the area of Indigenous housing. This has ...

Affordable Housing crisis III

As noted in this comment from a reader, I had another go at pushing the issue of housing affordability in the Senate last week. This time I put up the following motion in what is known as a matter of urgency debate: The need for a national affordable housing strategy to be developed, involving all levels of government and all political parties, to address the serious and ongoing crisis ...

Affordable housing crisis II

Following on from my previous post, there were some stories in the weekend papers about the housing affordability crisis – such as this one in The Courier Mail saying "housing affordability in southeast Queensland could be squeezed to crushing point", and this in The Australian saying "Sydney and the boom states of Queensland and West Australia facing crippling house and land shortages that could make it impossible for ...


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.