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.

Political donations: buying influence and outcomes.

The furore in New South Wales over developers and resource companies seeking to buy influence through political donations has died down a bit as focus has turned to the federal Budget. Whilst no one is linking Budget decisions to specific donations, it is pretty obvious the Coalition has brought down a Budget which favours many of their major financial backers, whilst a very large number of less ...


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 ...

Liberals smearing of Treasury is dangerous nonsense

Mr Abbott's excuses for not enabling such important economic information to be made available to the Independents - who after all do have to make the rather crucial decision as to who should form Australia's government - are risible. It is a worrying sign for where our democracy might be heading that he is not being pilloried by every political commentator in the country for trying to prevent ...

Pre-election ‘Debate’ Farce

Given I am now running as a Greens candidate, I suppose it is no surprise that I am indicating my agreement with a comment that Bob Brown made today.  But I would also say that it isn't any secret that I haven't agreed with every public comment that Bob has made, and I would agree with the following comment about the schoolyard level nonsense regarding another possible leaders ...

Eidos Institute function this Thursday with Adam Kahane

I’m speaking at an interesting lunchtime seminar being held in Brisbane city this coming Thursday.  It’s organized by the Eidos Institute, and it’s aimed at exploring questions such as how the private sector work towards social change, and what new ideas and processes can help us respond more effectively to complex social problems such as homelessness, climate change and institutionalised inequality. The event will be facilitated by Dennis ...

Political parties in the future: The role of parties

Last week, Radio National's Future Tense program did a show on how political parties might change over the next decade or so. You can read the transcript or listen to a podcast of it at this link.  I was interviewed for the show and they used a few comments of mine in their final broadcast. Given how central political parties are in our political system, I can't see them disappearing ...

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 ...

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 ...

Indonesian election

I’ve written on this blog about Indonesia quite a few times over the years, and had a couple of brief visits to Jakarta and once to Aceh. I’ve also tried to follow events in that country and speak with Indonesians – delegations and individuals – who are visiting Australia. The elections held in Indonesia over the course of this year have been very important to Australia and our ...

Online public consultations

There is less than a week to go for people to put in personal submissions for the national human rights consultations, with the general cut off date this coming Monday, 15 June.  If you were planning on having your say on how best to protect and promote human rights and responsibilities, now is the time to do it.   The efforts at consultation, carried out by an independent committee ...

Blogs try to counter censorship in Fiji

In May 2007, months after Fiji had suffered its latest coup, I noted reports that the military was trying to prevent access to anti-government blogs. Now the transition to a military dictatorship is complete, the censorship crackdown on the local media has been redoubled, leaving local blogs and other websites as a crucial source of uncensored news from Fiji.  I've done a post on the Crikey website with more details.

Online political identity survey

Rational, long-time political and policy blogger Andrew Norton has developed an internet survey in an effort to identify how people define and describe their political identity. It looks to me like a decent effort, and the more people have a go at it the more useful his results will be (or the clearer it will be how much different people use the same terms to mean completely different ...

Government blog about blogging (and the digital economy)

I wrote a couple of months ago about federal Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner’s efforts to develop government participation in blogging.  To his credit he’s at it again, helping kick off a “Digital Economy Future Directions Blog” tucked away inside the website of the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE).  There have been some useful wider topics raised for those who are interested in digital economy issues, with posts on open ...

Following what your politicians do

Another welcome development in the task of making it easier for the public scrutinise the work of their parliamentarians, with the launch of the Project Democracy website by the folks at GetUp!  The Project Democracy site taps into the Open Australia site which I wrote about in this post. Jason Wilson, who previously worked at QUT examining and encouraging citizen journalism, recently started working at GetUp! to develop projects such ...

Another online public engagement tool in the US elections

Supporters of the Obama campaign have set up a website aimed at giving the public a chance to put forward ideas, and comment and rate each other’s ideas.  It’s billed as an “unofficial campaign thinktank”.  Of course, a lot of it is about providing yet another way to draw potential supporters in and build on the already formidable database of contacts and small scale donors supporting Obama - ...

Political blogging in the UK

I’ve mused a number of times about the potential impacts of blogging on politics and politicians, and the differences between various countries. One longstanding blogging politician is Peter Black, a Liberal Democrat member of the Welsh Assembly, who has been at it for over five years. He has written an interesting piece on the impacts of blogging and the internet on politics, focusing particularly on Wales, but also the UK more ...

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 ...


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.