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.

On War and Remembrance

On war and remembrance Since I took up studying teaching, all that half-silly/half-sinister commentary that happens from time to time alleging Australia’s school children are having their brains filled with left-wing propaganda – especially when it comes to history – has become a bit more directly relevant for me. Although it’s pretty clear that fact-free fumigating by some random politician – even a random Education Minister – has ...

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Senate committee reports on international students issue

I mentioned in this post about appearing before a Senate Committee hearing  as patr of their inquiry into the welfare of international students.  That Committee tabled its report in the Senate in the final sitting days of the year.  Almost all the attention at the time was on the legislation dealing with climate change, and the related leadership tension in the Liberal Party, so the report got fairly limited ...

Senate’s International students inquiry – the questioner gets questioned

I had the slightly curious but none the less worthwhile experience a couple of weeks ago of providing evidence to a public hearing a Senate Committee inquiry, sitting on the opposite side of the table from where I’d been so many times since 1997. The inquiry is into issues surrounding international students.  While a lot of the media coverage has focused on violence towards some students in some southern ...

The blogging VC

There was an interesting piece on the value of blogging in the Education section of The Australian by Steven Schwartz, the Vice-Chancellor of Macquarie University, who started his own blog last year. His straightforward assessment of the interactive benefits of genuine blogging is just as applicable for politics, business, academics or many other fields as it is for a university leader. He also provides a very clear rejoinder to the mainstream ...

Liberal Senator calls for special schools to be abolished

I was interested to read that Queensland Liberal Senator Sue Boyce has called for special schools to be abolished and children with disabilities integrated into mainstream schools

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 ...

Humane Education – public forum in Brisbane

Last weekend’s Courier-Mail reported “a plan to teach animal ethics in schools which aims to reduce the number of shocking cruelty cases being reported across the state.” It is being promoted by Dr Gail Tulloch from Griffith University.  "The ethical argument is that it's important to extend the circle of compassion out, not just to your immediate family but to your community and your country and then humanity and then to animals." Some ...

Laughing at/with/for/about people with disabilities? No one’s laughing now

I was stunned to read that the Queensland University of Technology has suspended two Brisbane based academics, Gary MacLennan and John Hookham, without pay for six months for criticising their colleagues in a newspaper article. In a comment rich with irony, QUT vice-chancellor Peter Coaldrake justifies the ban by saying "Academic freedom is a great privilege and it should not be used to denigrate or ridicule people." Yet the ...

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 ...

forcing history on schools

Some News Limited papers have reported that “the Federal Government's hand-picked panel of history experts” will recommend a new three-year, 200-hour course in history which would be compulsory in all schools for students in years 8 to 10. The article states that “the Federal Government has signalled it could withdraw $13 billion in education funding unless the states agree to its demands”. I’d be utterly astonished if a major ...

Siev X memorial unveiled – temporarily

I travelled to Canberra earlier than usual today so I could attend a ceremony to mark the 5th anniversary of the sinking of the SIEV X, and the unveiling of the design for a memorial on the banks of Canberra's Lake Burley Griffin. There were well over one thousand people there, including Afghanistan's Ambassador to Australia, former Governor–General Sir William Deane, the Chief Minister of the ACT Jon Stanhope, ...

Failings in education for aboriginal children, and Labor’s latest indigenous statement

Some of the comments on my recent post about substance abuse in remote indigenous communities touched on the issues of empowerment and education. I noticed two stories in the recent edition of the National Indigenous Times one detailing a $181 million underspend by the federal government of moneyear-marked for the schooling of Aboriginal children, and the other

VSU legislation passes on Family First vote

I have written my thoughts about VSU a number of times before on my old blog – click here and here for examples - so I won't repeat them. It seemed almost certain at the start of the day that it wouldn't pass through the Senate this year – at least not without significant amendment, yet by 5pm the most extreme version of VSU imaginable had been ...

Government Guillotines the major laws, filibusters the minor ones, then guillotines again

After having to endure the government's use of very sharp guillotines in the Senate to prevent scrutiny of hugely significant legislative changes in the areas of welfare, industrial relations and civil liberties, I sat through the absurdity of government Senator's filibustering* on non-controversial legislation while they waited to discover whether or not the government can reach agreement on the University student services legislation (usually known as the VSU ...

Toowoomba – student services & sipping sewage

On Wednesday this week I visited Toowoomba, mainly to meet with the Student Guild and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the main campus of University of Southern Queensland. The main immediate issue I was exploring was what impact the government’s ideologically extreme version of VSU legislation would have on services to students. I’ve written on VSU a few times before so I won’t repeat myself, but suffice to say ...

Cairns – Student Unions and urban (over)development

On Thursday I visited another University campus, meeting the Student Association representative for the Cairns campus of James Cook Uni. They were very unhappy about the potential impact of the planned Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU) legislation, unlike their Townsville counterparts. Ideology aside, it would make for some interesting meeting dynamics when reps from the two campuses get together! Cairns is a much smaller campus than Townsville, with about a ...

Townsville & Mission Beach

I visited the Townsville campus of James Cook University on Tuesday, meeting with the Vice-Chancellor and also with office bearers of the Student Union. The continual dramatic evolution of the university sector is undoubtedly going to continue. One issue which I wasn't aware of that is causing some budgetary concerns has been an unexpected decline in the growth of overseas student numbers. It's not clear if that will ...

Mackay, North Queensland

I spent today in Mackay, North Queensland, mostly at the local campus of Central Queensland University. I was specifically interested in hearing about the possible local impact of the Government's planned legislation to abolish compulsory fees for student unions and associations, although other issues usually arise. When I arrived in the morning, I briefly thought I was in Darwin, as the local paper, the Daily Mercury, had a crocodile ...

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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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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