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.

Some thoughts on the UK election result

Some thoughts on the UK election result The UK election result provides a real opportunity for major improvements in the way politics and voting is done in the UK. At time of writing, with 9 seats out of 650 still to be declared, it is clear that the Conservatives will fall short of a majority, and without support from the Liberal Democrats, seem unlikely to able to form a coalition ...


The UK election & some possible Australia parallels

With the UK election happening this week, I recently wrote a piece for New Matilda about some of the parallels (as well as some of the differences) between the rising third parties of the Liberal Democrats in the UK and the Greens in Australia.  You can read the full piece at this link. For space reasons, I had to leave out a couple of other points I was going ...

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 ...

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 ...

De-honouring Honourables

De-honouring Honourables The Times reports that the newly installed Speaker of the House of Commons, the 46 year old Conservative, John Bercow, is “poised to scrap the age-old practice of addressing MPs by the title ‘the honourable member’, (instead) MPs will be referred to by their first name and surname.” The article also reports that the new Speaker “has already come under fire for deciding to abandon the traditional Speaker’s ...

War on ‘War on Terror’?

Larvatus Prodeo draws attention to a significant and sensible comment by British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who has acknowledged the unhelpfulness and inaccuracy of the “War on Terror” phrase and indicated the British government stopped using it some time ago.  Anyone in Australia who has made the same point over the last seven or so years has usually been branded as being at best “soft on terror” or ...

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 ...

Germany tries the Citizenship Test

Australia’s recently introduced citizenship test is currently being reviewed by the new Immigration Minister, Senator Chris Evans. Germany is in the process of introducing a similar test, which will operate from Sept 1st.  Some of the criticisms of it are similar to those that have been raised here. This article, reporting on a conference on immigration issues between Germany Turkey, quotes Mustafa Unal, a Turkish MP, and Dieter Oberndorfer, a German ...

Kosovo and self-determination

I've been in Taiwan for the last couple of days, participating in a conference on human rights in China in the lead up to the Beijing Olympics which start in less than six months. The population of Taiwan is about 23 million, which is slightly more than Australia's which currently stands at a bit over 21 million. Given the difficulties Taiwan has had over so many years in ...

New leader of the Liberal Democrats in the UK

The Liberal Democrats would be the party I would probably support if I lived in Britain. They’ve just completed a ballot of their members to decide a new Parliamentary Leader, after their previous leader resigned. They’ve had a little bit of leadership instability in recent years, but my interest is more in the mechanism they use to decide a leader. In this case, their new leader is Nick ...

Major democratic reforms proposed in Britain

A range of initiatives have been put forward by new British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, aimed at restoring public trust in politics. He flagged many of these changes over a year ago. A few of them are specific to Britain, but most would have application to Australia and are things our democratic system would benefit from. The proposals to reduce the powers held by Ministers and ...

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 ...

Finland Rocks

The Democrats National Conference finished on Sunday afternoon and I got into Canberra last night with a whole flock of other people coming to town for the week's House of Reps sittings and Senate Estimates Committee hearings. I got to my room in time to see the last third of the Eurovision song contest. I never used to follow this, but in the last few years I've turned ...

New Lib Dems Leader & more on e-democracy

The result of the Liberal Democrats leadership ballot was announced overnight. The party's membership have chosen what I see as the safe option, going for Sir Menzies Campbell by a reasonably comfortable margin - 29 697 to 21 628 for the second placed candidate Chris Huhne.

Update on Liberal Democrat leadership contest

About 6 weeks ago I wrote about the Liberal Democrat leadership contest in the UK (click here if you want to read it). I lauded the process of the membership choosing the leader, and the value of having a debate about the future of the party amongst party members. That process is nearly over. The result is being announced this Thursday at 3pm UK time. Peter Black, a Liberal ...

Vote Early – should 16 year olds be able to vote?

There is a report in The Guardian that Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister in waiting, has backed the idea of reducing the voting age to 16. Many members of the Australian Democrats have advocated a move along these lines in the past, although usually with a caveat like it should only be voluntary, or perhaps only for local government elections.

Smoking restrictions – UK & Jakarta

A significant step forward in reducing the harm of tobacco smoking has occurred with the decision by House of Commons in London to ban smoking in all enclosed public spaces in England. This approach was more hardline than what was originally proposed by the UK government, and interestingly was made the subject of a free (or conscience) vote for MPs. Perhaps an even more significant development in the battle ...

Turning a Blind Eye to Torture? UPDATED

A report in the Sydney Morning Herald may finally increase the pressure on the Australian government about how willing it has been to turn a blind eye to the use of torture by our ally in the so-called ‘war on terror’.

Liberal Democrat Leadership Updates

I added some updates at the bottom of my previous post, but as it seems to be drawing a lot of hits and some who read it earlier may not see the additions, I decided to also put them here as a separate post. Firstly, as another example of something you won't see in Australian politics, I recommend you check out the blog of Lynne Featherstone, who is the ...

Some Comments on the Liberal Democrats Leadership

I try to keep across political developments in a range of countries, but I’ve always taken a particular interest in the fortunes of the Liberal Democrats in the UK, as they are one of the overseas political parties most readily comparable to the Australian Democrats. I’ve been following the unrest that has been building about their Leader, Charles Kennedy, which has now come to a head with his resignation ...


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.