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.

Sid Spindler dies

News has come through today that former Victorian Democrat Senator, Sid Spindler, a key figure in the founding of the Democrats back in 1977, has died after a fairly long battle with cancer. Sid was 75. He was born in Poland, experiencing the horrors of Nazi occupation and World War II. He came to Australia as a seventeen year old in 1949 – yet another example of the immense benefit ...


30 years of Democrats

The Democrats had a function in Melbourne on Friday night to mark the 30th anniversary of the party. Apart from the usual interest in catching up with people one hasn’t seen for a while, there was some interesting old video footage of Don Chipp and others from the 70s and early 80s. It was good to see Democrats from the 80s talking just as strongly then about issues ...

A week of travelling

I've been on the road all this week, which has made it harder to update this blog (and also harder to achieve my goal of reducing my greenhouse emissions in the election year).

Gather the folks, break the bread, tell the stories – the Don Chipp funeral

The cavernous interior of St Paul's Cathedral in the heart of Melbourne was filled to capacity. Former Prime Ministers and Governors-General, military brass, diplomatic corps, other past and present political luminaries, past and present Democrat Senators, past and present Democrat members, including some from the old Australia Party days that preceded the Democrats, along with many other members of the general public were there together 1000 strong. Central ...

Death of Don Chipp

I received a message late tonight that Don Chipp, founder of the Democrat party had died last evening in Melbourne.

Don Chipp’s new book & Andrew Denton’s fundamentalist moderates

I went to the launch of Don Chipp's latest book Friday morning titled 'Keep the Bastards Honest'. There was an impressive turnout of people, including Andrew Peacock and his wife, Michael Kroger, John Button, Ron Barassi, Steve Vizard, as well as the MC John Singleton and Andrew Denton, who gave a very good speech. There was an implicit assumption in a number of the comments made that the Democrats ...


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.