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.


Movemeber - where blokes grow a moustache as part of encouraging people to provide donations to a good cause - is one of a number of similar sorts of activities which have flourished in recent; from World's Greatest Shave (which raises money to fight leukemia) to Red Nose Day (which raises funds to help reduce Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). I've never participated directly in these sorts of activities before, although ...


Recent Interviews

Following are links to a couple of recent radio interviews I've done, plus an online one

Acknowledging local successes at improving Indigenous health

One of the benefits for me of not being in Parliament has been the chance to get more directly involved in community based organisations.  One of those I have got more involved in over the past year or so is the Queensland branch of Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (usually known as ANTaR). ANTaR started in the 1990s and has maintained a continuing role in promoting better community ...

Updates on Qld abortion law debate

There have been a few developments since I wrote my previous post about the uncertainty surroundnig Queensland's abortion laws. A 'technical' amendment to the law was rushed through State Parliament giving the same protection for surgeons for medical abortions as currently exists for surgical abortions.  Both major parties managed to avoid having the amendment considered a conscience vote, using the rather curious argument that "the amendment did not ...

Abortion laws in Queensland

Queensland Parliament has no choice but to act on abortion laws The Queensland government has tried their best for a quite a few years to ignore the calls to change the state’s laws on abortion. However, whatever your views are on abortion, the issue in Queensland can no longer be avoided by the Queensland Parliament. The situation for individual women seeking an abortion and for doctors prepared to provide it ...

Hearing the message on hearing

One of the interesting things about blogging is that you can never tell which posts are going to attract interest, or when.  Today I appeared on ABC Radio National’s Australia Talks, giving my views on the issue of hearing loss. This is the second time I’ve done an extended media interview on this topic in the last year or so. Both times I was approached solely as a result of this ...

Autism Awareness over breakfast

A Parliamentary Breakfast was held this morning to raise awareness of and support for autism. Breakfast functions arranged by community organisations are a regular feature at Parliament House. They are usually a straight-forward occasion, going for about an hour from 7.30, with a few speakers and some information about the topic. The speakers at this one included Katherine Annear (an adult with ASD) and John Doyle (better known ...

Hearing Matters

Over two years ago, I wrote a piece on this blog about hearing loss. I’ve raised it once or twice in speeches and in the Senate since then, but it’s still an issue which doesn’t have a particularly high public profile, despite the very large numbers of being affected – estimated to currently be about one in six Australians, rising to about one in four by 2050. My blog ...

Euthanasia Bill hearing in Darwin

I'm in Darwin at the moment for Committee hearings into two separate private Senators' Bills. One, introduced by Bob Brown, is aimed at restoring the right of the Northern Territory Parliament to legislate in areas relating to euthanasia. The other was introduced by me and is aimed at instituting a national system for providing compensation to the Stolen Generations. Unfortunately, being in Darwin means I had to miss ...

Day 4 – Higher Education forum and Indigenous issues

Another candidates’ forum and yet again no Liberal Party representative attended.  This forum was on Higher Education issues at the University of Queensland, in the heart of the electorate of Ryan. Despite being won briefly by Labor as a result of a by-election protest vote at the start of 2001, this seat is Liberal heartland.  It currently has a margin of a little over ten per cent. There has ...

Success stories in Indigenous health

There have been a lot of reports highlighting the disgraceful situation with the health of many Indigenous Australians. It is important to be aware of this situation, but it can sometimes make the problem seem insurmountable, which can create a view that it's all too hard. In a positive move, ANTaR (Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation) launched a report in Canberra today detailing some of the ...

Close the Gap

A couple of weeks ago I attended the launch of the Close the Gap campaign – to eliminate the gap between the life expectancy and opportunities for Indigenous Australians and the rest of our nation. It was held at the Olympic Stadium in Sydney, and there was a big media contingent there in part due to the presence of Olympic champions Cathy Freeman and Ian Thorpe, who were both ...

worldwide coverage of PM’s comment on Migrants and HIV

Whilst John Howard preaches in the media fairly regularly about issues relating to migrants, migration, asylum seekers and citizenship, occasionally he makes statements which suggest he doesn’t really know much about the details of how our migration laws work or the nature of our migrant intake these days. I did a post on such an instance some time ago. His recent off the cuff comment in a radio ...

Wins on petrol sniffing

Just over a year ago I wrote about a Senate Committee inquiry into petrol sniffing. As my comments at the time suggested, I was uncertain how much value would come out of the inquiry, given the number of similar inquiries which had preceded it. However, it does appear to have been some significant steps forward since then. I have been hearing some good feedback from ...

It is indeed a Great Shave

I’ll be travelling all this week through various places in the Gulf and Cape York, so there may be fewer new posts on this site than usual. To fill the empty void in your life that this may cause, you might wish to look at sponsoring someone in the Leukaemia Foundation’s “World’s Greatest Shave”. I’d do it myself, but having a bald head in an election ...

Down Syndrome

Amongst all my activities, I try to meet reasonably regularly with a range of community organisations to help keep me in better touch with some of the issues at community level. Even if there is no immediate issue I can assist them with, it is always useful for me to get a better understanding of their activities and concerns, and to get more aware of the specific ...

UK stem cell controversy over human-animal hybrids

From a public and media point of view, the cloning/stem cell debate has been and gone in Australia, with legislation allowing such research passing both houses of Parliament in December. In the months leading up to the vote in the Senate, I wrote a number of times on this blog about my thoughts, and sought the views of the public. I also got myself some negative media by ...

Road Toll and driving restrictions

Changes are being made in NSW to laws governing P plate drivers –people who have newly acquired their driver’s licence. These include novice drivers being able to carry no more than one young passenger late at night, and an automatic loss of licence with a single speeding offence. This is an issue where the principle of individual freedom comes up against the principle of the wider public good. We ...

Drug testing on animals

When I talk about animal welfare issues, I often feel I am running the risk that I will be accused of being more concerned about (non-human) animals than about humans. This is doubly so when I talk about the use of animals in experimentation. It was therefore irritating, although not totally surprising, that the “Hands Off Our Ovaries” group recently put out a media release saying “Senator Bartlett ...

Selling Medibank private

As we move towards the last two weeks of Senate sittings for 2006, the government is adopting the traditional pre-Christmas practice of piling up a list of ‘urgent’ Bills which must be passed in the final fortnight. In the past the Senate was able to determine which of these Bills were really urgent and which was were just try-ons in an effort to push things through without decent scrutiny ...


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.