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.

Wikileaks : some thoughts on what is happening and where it might lead

The current Wikileaks/'cablegate' affair raises quite a range of issues, not all of which are clear cut.  But I have to say that one thing which should be beyond dispute is that, whatever one's views might be about what Wikileaks is doing or about Julian Assange as an individual, it is not good enough for our government to sit back and say nothing while senior US political figures ...

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Mountains of Coal

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post about mountaintop mining in the USA. All mining has some impact, but the sheer destructiveness of this type of mining is astonishing - and that's before you take into account the greenhouse impact of the coal. This article in the New York Times details the potential impact of a similar project in West Virginia. The significance of this proposal ...

Can we end homelessness? Interview with CEO of US Alliance to end homelessness

A conference was held in Brisbane this week on the topic of Ending Homelessness.  I was part of a panel exploring migrants' interaction with homeless services. One of the main speeches was by Nan Roman, who is the CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness in the USA. I had the chance to interview Nan Roman today on my regular weekly radio shift.  I also spent last weekend ...

Immigration detention and deportation in the USA

There is more evidence that, however unjust and dysfunctional the administration of Australia's immigration laws was in our recent past, it is being outstripped by what has been happening in the USA. There are more and more examples coming to light in the USA that have echoes of the Cornelia Rau and Vivienne Alvarez debacles of the Howard era in Australia.  The reasons these things are happening are similar ...

The Speech

As the speech itself acknowledges, a single speech can't resolve things.  But it is impossible to overstate how significant it would be if the vision President Obama expresses and aspires to in this speech is successful.  The text of the speech is here, or here for translations into 14 other languages.  It is worth taking the time to listen to and watch as well.

Vote Obama, it’s good karma

One of the major things to assess after all the voting has been done in the USA will be just how big the impact has been of the Obama campaign’s widespread use of online campaigning techniques.  Even a casual user of the internet on the other side of the planet will have found it hard to avoid some sign of Obama’s presence.  I have been impressed by the ...

Alaskan Daily on Palin

It’s no surprise that Barack Obama is receiving the majority of newspaper endorsements in the USA, but I was a bit surprised to see this one from the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska!  But even more interesting was their assessment of their local Governor, Sarah Palin

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 - ...

Blogs are part of the mainstream media – in the USA at least

I’ve just realised that a week ago was the fourth anniversary of starting up this blog, which gives me cause to reflect on how tiresome it is to still see the stale, dead-end ‘journalists versus bloggers’ argument being aired far too often. This recent, very over-defensive effort in The Australian is an example - written by Christian Kerr, who developed his career through commentary in the independent media and should ...

Race politics in US electoral contests

Beneath the focus on the Presidential contest in the USA, hundreds of other electoral contests are also taking place for Congressional and state-based seats. Reports about a couple of those contests recently caught my eye. These two links tell of Rashida Tlaib, a Muslim woman of Arab descent who has just won the Democratic primary for a seat in Detroit – in a predominantly Latino district – getting 44 per ...

Following the US Elections

I know some people complain about how much coverage the election President of the USA is getting in Australia, but it has the potential to have a very significant effect on the future of the entire planet, so I think it’s worth following. Even though Barack Obama now seems to be doing the inevitable tilting to the centre that happens once every primary is concluded, he seems to ...

Politics & Technology (& blogging) conference coming up in Canberra

On June 25, during my final sitting week in Parliament, I’ll be speaking at a Politics & Technology conference organised by Microsoft. You can see all the speakers and panellists at this link. The keynote speaker will be US political writer, Matt Bai. I guess it will sort of mark the point I make a shift from a blogging politician to a person blogging about politics. The roles of ...

Kentucky coal

Kentucky is fleetingly in the news today because of the US Presidential primaries, but I wish there was more attention being paid to the extraordinarily destructive coal mining that has been going on in that state day after day. There is a lot of debate about how to reduce coal consumption and reduce the greenhouse impacts of coal usage, but whatever options we adopt in regards to that, ...

The Promised Land

Friday April 4th marked the fortieth anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. King’s legacy and impact is greatest by far in the USA, but he has become known around the world as a voice for human rights and non-violence.  This piece by Joseph Palermo at The Huffington Post gives an interesting perspective on that legacy and on King’s final days.  It is interesting to speculate on how ...

A watchdog on the media

The drawn out contest to determine the next President of the USA is an extraordinary process. I find some components highly laudable, and some of them less than ideal. One of the problems with such a very long process is the need for the media (and the general public to some extent) to constantly try to find new angles and stories about the campaign. This could be seen ...

Expat Americans’ role in deciding the USA Democrat nomination. UPDATED

Super Tuesday in the USA is almost upon us, where a major step will be taken in the process of choosing the next President of that nation. The result will affect us all, not least in regards to the successful candidate's foreign/military policy and the approach towards climate change. Opinion polls (which have had a rather sketchy record in this contest) suggest the contest for the Democratic nomination between ...

Political compass of US President contest

I imagine most people who are interested in politics and trawl around the internet have seen various quizzes which seek to categorise your political views. These have their limitations of course, but can be fun and occasionally interesting. This one is probably the best known. This one I found (via Crikey) asks you a series of questions in order to ‘determine your position in the political landscape for the USA ...

‘Diaspora delegates’ helping choose US Democrat Presidential candidate

Some time ago, I wrote a piece about the issue of people living outside their country of citizenship being able to vote, pointing to the example of the system which had just been adopted for the Italian Parliament, which provides specific seats for Italian voters who live in other countries. (As it turned out, those few seats specifically reserved for citizens based outside the country were crucial in the ...

Silent Howl

One would normally assume things are more permissive now regarding what is considered obscene than was the case fifty years ago, but there is an example in the USA at the moment to show that is not always the case. Fifty years ago, a landmark court case in the USA found that Allen Ginsberg's poem "Howl" was not obscene, as it had "redeeming social importance" and literary ...

US citizenship test

It seems like both the content and topic of citizenship tests fascinate lots of people. The YouTube video Lyn Allison did on the topic got a lot more views than usual, as well as generating some media coverage. Of course, it's also given the Coalition party yet another reason to spend millions of taxpayers' dollars to run completely unnecessary advertisments to tell people there is now a ...

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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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