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.

Time to restore an Upper House in Qld’s Parliament

Calls to bring back the Upper House - or Legislative Council - in Queensland's Parliament appear with fairly regular frequency. Like every other state Upper House at the time, when Queensland's Legislative Council voted to abolish itself back in 1921, all its members were appointed rather than elected - something which certainly needed addressing. However, every other state (eventually) dealt with this through the obvious mechanism of requiring ...


More on Senate Preferences

The possibility of people getting elected to the Senate with virtually no public support has been greater coverage, with a piece in today’s SMH and Antony Green letting fly about it on the ABC this morning. Given this is how the Senate voting system works, it’s probably idealistic to hope that people wouldn’t try to game it. And it’s certainly very common for parties of all sizes to look ...

Senate preference mayhem: 0.2% of the vote could be enough to win

This election sees a record number of parties contesting the Senate and a record number of candidates. Even people like me who enjoy filling in all the squares below the line on the Senate ballot paper might balk at having to fill in 82 squares (if you’re in Queensland), 102 (if you’re in NSW) or 97 (if you’re in Victoria). I tend to start with my top few, ...

A moderate pace is best indeed. The greater hurry, the worse speed.

All of the 150 House of Representatives seats now have a clear winner. Unlike some other recent elections, there has not been any real knife edge seats, which is probably just as well given the uncertainty over who will form government. Given how finely balanced things are with the hung Parliament result, it could have caused real mayhem if the 2007 result in the Victorian seat of McEwen ...

Having a Say on democracy – the right to vote should be for citizens only

The federal government should be commended for making such a comprehensive effort at casing so many perspectives in it consideration of electoral reform options, as well as for providing an apparently genuine effort at seeking public opinion.  The second electoral reform Green Paper released this week by Special Minister of State Joe Ludwig covers a wide terrain, canvassing many options without actually promoting any. This post from The Poll ...

Some electoral stats

Some interesting statistics in the latest issue of The Tally Board from the Australian Electoral Commission which show how important the internet has become for basic information about elections. During the 2007 federal election, there were more than 3.2 million visitors to the AEC website and over 14.4 million page views. This compares to over 800 000 visitors who viewed more than 6.8 million pages at the 2004 election. The AEC ...

Major improvements to control political donations on the way?

Media reports are giving some positive indications that the federal Labor government will be making some major improvements to the laws covering political donations. Reports suggest the government is not only going to make increase the requirements for disclosing political donations, but also to put a limit on the size of individual donations from corporations and individuals. If these reports are true, this change would be a major shift ...

Time to put a limit on political donations

A recent front page story in the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Frank Sartor, the Planning Minister in New South Wales, "hosted a fundraising dinner attended by more than 30 property developers which raised more than $500 000 at the same time the government was set to make decisions on development applications by some of those companies." I note this not specifically to have a shot at Frank Sartor, ...

Expat Americans’ role in deciding the USA Democrat nomination. UPDATED

Super Tuesday in the USA is almost upon us, where a major step will be taken in the process of choosing the next President of that nation. The result will affect us all, not least in regards to the successful candidate's foreign/military policy and the approach towards climate change. Opinion polls (which have had a rather sketchy record in this contest) suggest the contest for the Democratic nomination between ...

Taiwan elections and UN representation

This year’s Presidential election in the USA is getting an enormous amount of coverage in Australia, but there’s an election a bit closer to home happening tomorrow in Taiwan (sometimes called the Republic of China). Its implications won’t be anywhere near as big for Australia or the globe compared to what happens in the USA, but every election can be significant, particularly in the south-east Asian region which, ...

Your right to vote

In the absence of even a basic Bill of Rights in Australia, it is very much a matter for noting any time a right is identified as being entrenched in our nation's Constitution. Last year, the Coalition used its control of the Senate to make a range of changes to the Electoral Act aimed at favouring themselves. One of the changes was to take away the right to ...

Sir James Killen: Moreton, Menzies and Mythology

Liberal Party elder statesman Jim Killen died last week. He represented the Brisbane based seat of Moreton in the federal parliament from 1955 to 1983 and was one a dwindling number of former MPs who served in the Menzies era. One of the most frequently recounted aspects of Killen’s career relates to his extremely tight and crucial victory in the seat of Moreton in the 1961 election, which was ...

The Citizenship tests and voting rights

A key issue with the new language and ‘values’ citizenship tests, which probably won't be able to be legislated for, is how rigidly and ruthlessly the tests are applied. We have already seen the monumental injustices that happened when government zealotry on migration infected the culture of the Department responsible for administering the government’s migration laws and policies. If the new citizenship test is applied in the same ...

Victorian election

As we move towards next year's federal election, my focus is drawing to Queensland more and more – one of a number of reasons why this weekend’s Victorian election hasn’t been impacting on my consciousness much. However, whatever the result, one thing that is absolutely certain is that it will result in a far more representative Upper House, as they are using a multi-member electorate, proportional representation voting system ...

Government spends even more of your money trying to convince you to vote for them

I've had a whinge or two in the past about the disgraceful amount of money the federal government is now stealing direct from taxpayers to promote themselves. State governments are guilty of this too, albeit on a lower scale - although the more shameless the federal government is, the more the states will follow. There was also a Senate Committee report on the issue at the end ...

An end to political donations?

A nice idea from a federal Liberal Senator, proposing an end to donations to political parties from unions and corporations. To do this fairly, I think you would also have to end (or at least put a cap on) all donations, including from indiviiduals, otherwise it would be too easy to circumvent. Some might suggest it's a bit rich for a federal Liberal MP to put up such ...

Queensland election over – time for the federal campaign

The end of the Queensland election campaign marks the start of my re-election campaign. The federal election will be held between August and early December next year. With the Queensland poll out of the way early, there will be a lot less ‘static’ in public debates and discussions, which will make it easier to focus peoples’ minds on what is at stake at the federal election. Queensland was the ...

Move in SA to give 16 year olds the vote

A few months ago, I wrote about whether it would be a good idea to allow 16 year olds to vote. It's fair to say that the majority of comments to that post didn't think it was a terribly good idea. The idea has just got another run in South Australia, with Independent MP Bob Such saying he "will present a private member's Bill to allow voluntary voting ...

Parliamentary representation for Aussie Expats?

The Italian election last weekend has produced a cliff-hanger result which appears to have signalled the end of the reign of Silvio Berlusconi – at least for now. While that seems like a good thing to me, the aspect of the election I have been much more interested in has been the innovation of Italian citizens living abroad being able to vote for their own expatriate or ...

The Week Ahead 3 – Electoral Law changes

There hasn't been a lot of notice paid to the government's planned changes to the Australian electoral laws, even though there are significant measures contained in the legislation. In another example of legislation titles as Orwellian propaganda, this change is called Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Electoral Integrity and Other Measures) Bill.


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.