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.

Democrat stalwart dies

The role of the Australian Democrats as a political force is beginning to recede into history. It is now over six years since the party ceased having representation in the federal Parliament. But I am keen that the very positive legacy of the party is not forgotten and nor should those people who made a major contribution to the party’s success. One such person is Heather Southcott, who died ...

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Is Labor about to risk doing a Democrats?

Every political party - indeed most community organisations - find themselves having to deal with internal turmoil and personal conflict from time to time. In that sense, the main difference for political parties is that those differences tend to be more likely to be played out in the public eye.  But I can't escape the feeling that the current turmoil within the federal Labor Party is much deeper ...

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 ...

Greens, Democrats and the Senate balance of power

Today marks the day the Greens officially gain sole balance of power in the Senate. It also marks the thirtieth anniversary of the day the Democrats first gained the Senate balance of power back in 1981. Many people focus on the difficulties and disappointments of the Democrats declining years, and it reasonable to consider how the Greens might best avoid this fate. But it is equally important to remember ...

This week’s 4ZzZ interview with Peter Black

I haven't posted one of these here for a while, but each week on my radio shift on 4ZzZ FM I do an interview with QUT law lecturer and obsessive follower of social issues and media, Peter Black. The topics covered include the Greens taking on the balance of power in the Senate and how they might fare compared to the Democrats; a few other things happening in federal ...

6 years of blogging

It's been such a long time since I started this blog, and both I and the blog have been through so many transitions I'd forgotten what time of year it was that I started it. So it was a complete coincidence that I thought I might look to see when the first entry was, and discovered it was precisely six years ago. I started this blog as an experiment ...

The UK election & some possible Australia parallels

With the UK election happening this week, I recently wrote a piece for New Matilda about some of the parallels (as well as some of the differences) between the rising third parties of the Liberal Democrats in the UK and the Greens in Australia.  You can read the full piece at this link. For space reasons, I had to leave out a couple of other points I was going ...

A few bits of history as SA Upper House results declared

The fascination with the still unresolved post-election situation in Tasmania has drawn some attention away from the somewhat more run of the mill situation in South Australia.  With the Rann Labor government gaining a clear, albeit slightly unexpected, victory in the South Australian election, and the Liberals in that state quickly reverting to type and engaging in internal squabbles, it is fair enough that the curious Tasmanian situation ...

Weather prediction

On June 25 2008, Nick Minchin gave a valedictory speech to the Senate to mark the departure of the Australian Democrats from the federal Parliament after a presence of over 30 years. To help further boost the mood of the Democrats there that night, Senator Minchin kindly outlined that "one of the things (he) managed to achieve in Australian politics was keeping Janine Haines out of the House of Representatives", ...

Running again

It's nearly two years since the last election, when the Democrats lost all their seats, and over sixteen months since I finally left the Senate,  as did the Democrats as a party.  After a lot of thought,  I’ve decided to get back into party politics and contest a seat at next year's federal election. It was formally announced today that I will be running in the seat of Brisbane, ...

Memorial service for Jack Evans

I attended the memorial service for co-founder of the Australian Democrats, Jack Evans in Perth yesterday.  I don’t especially seek to be the chronicler of departed Democrats, but I do believe the contribution of key figures in the Democrats’ history should be recognised because of the significant impact of the party on the Australian political and policy landscape. The service filled the memorial chapel in the northern suburbs of ...

The Last Democrat.

The Last Democrat. When http://andrewbartlett.com/?p=7172 I wrote about David Winderlich being sworn into the South Australian Parliament as a Democrat MP back in January, it was no great feat of future telling to predict that he could well be the last Democrat to serve in an Australian Parliament.  The next South Australian election was due in March 2010 and the party hadn’t successfully got anyone elected at any election ...

Jack Evans: Another Democrat obituary

News has come through that Jack Evans, a pivotal person in the founding and development of the Australian Democrats, has died at the age of 80. I've previously written about other former Democrats when they have passed away, namely Sid Spindler, and Don Chipp.  Whilst its dangerous to single people out, Sid, Don and Jack were amongst the most crucial people in getting the Democrats established and functional.  Certainly when it comes to ...

10 Year anniversary of Harradine’s “I Cannot” GST speech

At 3:07 pm on Friday 14th May 1999, Senator Brian Harradine rose to address the Senate. As with this week ten years later, it was just after a federal Budget had been delivered – Peter Costello’s third.  Unlike this week, discussion over the content of the Budget had been quickly subsumed by speculation over whether the GST – the defining issue of John Howard’s government at the time – ...

The Last Democrat?

The membership of the South Australian Democrats have made their choice to fill the Upper House vacancy caused by the retirement of the party’s sole remaining MP.  The vacancy is being filled by David Winderlich. I first met David quite a few years ago through his work supporting refugees.  He was one of a number of effective refugee advocates in the Adelaide area, and he always struck me as someone ...

One year since the Democrats’ (and Howard’s) end, a long overdue reform arrives

There has been a mountain of articles, opinion pieces and blog posts about the one year anniversary of the election of the Rudd government, and the end of the Howard government.  I think the jury is still very much out on how substantive the Rudd government will turn out to be, although I have to note and praise a few of the reforms in the immigration area – ...

The final question

Pretty much everything I did this week could have had a 'last time' label attached to it - last Party Room meeting, last Committee meeting, last Whips meeting, etc. I've avoided recording all of those, as it quickly gets rather tiresome. However, I thought I'd record the last Democrat question ever asked in the Senate. Partly because of that historic significance, but also because I think it is and ...

My actual final speech

Due to the way the government wanted to order Senate business in the final week, the formal Valedictory speeches of departing Senators were not actually the last speech for many of us. Below is the text of what was my actual final speech (and the final words spoken by a Democrat in the Senate).  I took the chance to make one more (probably futile) call for some accuracy ...

My final speech

I'm giving my final Valedictory speech in the Senate this coming Wednesday evening, around 6pm. News Radio should be broadcasting the Senate at that time, or you can listen in online through www.aph.gov.au.  There's another story in today's SMH exploring where the Democrats went wrong. I might write some stuff here on that topic later, but there's no shortage of material when it comes to the party's achievements ...

Courier-Mail (and others) praise the Democrats!

Understandably, there are plenty of media stories in recent times noting the imminent end of the Democrats' presence in the Senate. No doubt there'll be more over the next week or so. It was sweet to read in today's Courier-Mail editorial that the Democrats demise "is unfortunate". They state that the party "earned a deservedly high reputation for being scrupulous and tough in negotiation", their "achievements in that period ...

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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.

  • 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.