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.

Nauru redux – it ain’t no ‘boarding school’

The prospect of the refugee detention camps on Nauru being reopened has become very real, with the issue of asylum seekers in boats apparently being of such magnitude to Tony Abbott that he would make it virtually his first priority for action above almost everything else, should he end up being elected on the weekend. Apart from a visit by Philip Ruddock and the then shadow Minister for Labor, ...


Report on the Pacific & climate change forum

Last night I attended the public forum I wrote about here, featuring Pacific Island peoples speaknig about the impacts of climate change on their homelands, health and cultures. It was very well attended and the speakers were engaging and enlightening. I've published a piece about it over at Crikey at this link. If for some reaon you want to see my efforts at live-Tweeting the forum, ...

Pacific Islanders speaking at climate change forum in Brisbane

Oxfam Australia has just released a report on the impacts of climate change in the Pacific.  It details impacts which are already occurring for some Islands in the Pacific region. The report’s release is timed in the lead up to the upcoming meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum, being held next week in Cairns. That Forum in turn is occurring in the lead up to the climate ...

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.

Pacific Island worker scheme a welcome move

I am pleased to see the federal government has formally announced a trial allowing up to 2500 people from neighbouring countries of Tonga, Vanuatu, Kiribati and Papua New Guinea to do seasonal work in Australia. In doing so, they have shown up the failure of courage and policy integrity of the previous government. The Opposition’s complaint that this proposal is “rushed” is simply false.  The idea has been debated ...

Papua New Guinea

I don’t think most Australians – myself included - pay as much attention as we should to the people, issues, countries and cultures in our own region.  This lack of adequate attention usually extends to the political level. It’s a positive thing that Kevin Rudd has made a formal visit to Papua New Guinea so early in his term. For a country that is our nearest neighbour and ...

The last refugees leave Nauru. Should we allow Nauruans to come too?

I visited Nauru on four separate occasions between 2003 and 2007. I have written many articles and blog posts and given many speeches on the disgraceful abuse of human rights and degrading of basic human decency known as the Pacific Solution, where well over a thousand asylum seekers – including many children - were forcibly removed to that island and kept there in a situation of extreme isolation, ...

the Power of Blog

The most recent edition of The Humanitarian, the newsletter from the Australian Red Cross, contained an article titled “Can blogging save the world?” Saving the world is a somewhat large expectation to put on blogging, but there is frequent speculation about just how significant it is or might be in the future. The clearest demonstration that blogging can be politically powerful is that many governments are making serious efforts ...

One by one the guests arrive, the guests are coming through

On all my visits to Nauru, I have stayed at the Menem Hotel, one of only two hotels on the island.  The last three times I've been in the same room, which is called the presidential suite.  This is due to the fact that it seems to always be the only room that is free, not to any taste for luxury on my part – not that it ...

Nauru, again

I’ve just returned from a quick two day visit to Nauru – my fourth in four years. I had a look at the recently renovated facility where the refugees are staying and met with many of them. There has been a different situation each visit I’ve made, and this one was no different in being different. I also visited a local pre-school, met with Australian government officials ...

Climate change and Pacific Island nations

I attended a meeting about climate change tonight which included a speaker from the Pacific Island nation of Tuvalu. Accompanied by some visual images, her message about the danger climate change presents to her country was compelling. As I noted last year when I met some MPs from Micronesia, it is a lot harder to be blasé or sanguine about the impacts of climate change when someone is talking ...

Fiji & Free speech

Continuing with the theme of free speech, the situation in Fiji seems to be getting worse – hopefully that is just the pathway to things getting better. A report today quotes the military as warning that anyone who speaks out against the nation's new army leadership will be taken in for questioning. This follows on from attempts last week to censor media coverage – something the ...

The slow motion coup?

The situation in Fiji is one where local knowledge of the nuances and impacts is essential. This piece I wrote in January on mutterings of a possible coup is a reminder of just how long the issue has been bubbling away. For the last month or so, it's felt a bit like watching a slow motion movie, moving inexorably towards what seems like an inevitable outcome, but always ...

New refugees forced to Nauru – UPDATED with more info on the refugees’ story

As part of my efforts to ensure asylum seekers sent to Nauru are not forgotten, it is worth noting that seven Burmese asylum seekers have just recently been sent there, with an eighth likely to follow after further medial treatment. They will be kept in detention on Nauru. They arrived not long after the numbers on Nauru were reduced to one lone Iraqi refugee, now hitting his five ...

Nauru says no more?

I've written a few times before about the two Iraqi refugees who were stuck on Nauru without any future and without any legal rights, and the Australian government's apparent willingness to leave them in that situation indefinitely. One of the men is now in Australia, having been brought here last month for health reasons on the insistence of the Nauruan government. I had met him on ...

and then there was one ….

I flew back from Canberra this evening in time to go see Julian Burnside speak at the AGM of the Qld Council for Civil Liberties. I've heard him speak a number of times now, but he is always worthwhile listening to - one of the best public speakers I've experienced. He gave a brief outline of the origins and principles of the Rule of Law and ...

A morning of Micronesia, Multiculturalism and Israel

While debate on the Land Rights Bill continued in the Senate and debate started on the anti-refugee legislation in the House of Reps, those MPs and Senators not immediately involved in the debates continue on with a lot of other business.

More Committee Inquiries – skilled & semi-skilled migration, Pacific Islands and New Zealand

I'm trying to keep my toe(s) in the water of a range of different of Senate and Parliamentary Committee Inquiries at the moment. Following on from spending the last couple of days focused on the petrol sniffing inquiry, I attended public hearings today in Brisbane into an inquiry by the Joint Migration Committee into overseas skills recognition, licensing and related issues for migrants to Australia. In a world ...

Another Fiji coup?

Reports have emerged again about the possibility of another coup occuring in Fiji. I don’t know what the chance of this really happening is, but I am sure the underlying issues are more complex than is likely to be portrayed through most media reports. You can read an interesting perspective on the dynamics in Fiji on Webdiary by Dr Mark Hayes, who has worked and ...


I’ve only been to New Zealand once before, and this was the first time I’d been to the south island. It’s probably the most southern part of the planet I’ve been to so far. The University of Otago in Dunedin was hosting the politics conference I spoke at. It dates back to the 19th century and is a key part of the town, economically and culturally. Dunedin is ...


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.