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.

Malaysian Elections & Social Media

This weekend sees a national election taking place which could be pivotal in Malaysia’s future, which makes it a significant event in Australia’s south-east Asian region. It also reminded me of a forum I attended in Kuala Lumpur last year as part of Malaysia Social Media Week (MSMW). I spoke in one session which looked at the use of social media in politics – encompassing campaigning ...

Advertisement

Burma: How to help?

I usually complain that the Australian media (and Australians in general) pay little attention to elections and other political events in nations nearby to us in the south-east Asian region.  It is somewhat ironic that the 'election' which seems to be getting a lot of coverage is one which is so unfair and rigged as to barely justify being called an election at all.  None the less, it is ...

Our obsession with stopping boat people

I've written a short piece on the Asian Correspondent website about the Australian media coverage of Julia Gillard's visit to south-east Asia. I've been frustrated, but not surprised, that the majority of the coverage - at least amongst what I've seen - has been focused on the issue of a few thousand asylum seekers who arrive here in boats, and so little on the significant economic, human rights, environmental, ...

Blogging across national boundaries

Blogging across nations A couple of months ago, I started doing a few http://www.asiancorrespondent.com/andrew-bartlett-blog blog posts a week at a new site called http://www.asiancorrespondent.com/ Asian Correspondent.  In short, the site is an amalgam of standard news reports from countries across most of the Asian region – including Australia – along with posts a wide range of bloggers from those countries.  It is still developing in both content and layout, ...

Some facts about the people on the boats

Given all the speculation and commentary about the two boats with Tamil asylum seekers aboard currently in Indonesia, I thought it would be helpful to publish some basic facts about the people.  This information comes from Pamela Curr from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne, a person I've found to very reliable on these sorts of things - certainly far more so than anonymous, speculative or presumptive ...

Road map for West Papua

I wrote a piece recently about the new Cabinet of the Indonesian government, including their new Foreign Minister Marty Natelegawa who gained his PhD at the Australian National University.  As I’ve written a number of times, Indonesia has made very impressive progress in a range of areas in recent years.  I believe one of their biggest unaddressed challenges is West Papua, which is an issue with both internal ...

Mega oil spill reaches Indonesian Coast

A leaking oil rig off the north-western coast of Australia has been spewing oil into the marine environment for over two months.  Whilst there has been intermittent publicity about the ongoing oil spill, it certainly hasn’t galvanised wide-scale public concern in Australia. I have to confess that, like Northern Territory based blogger Bob Gosford, I am perplexed as to why this massive oil spill does not appear to have generated ...

Writings and doings

Writings and doings The asylum seeker debate is causing a lot of political and media flurry at the moment.  In one way that’s good, because it’s an important and complex issue with some crucial principles at stake.  But for years I have found it frustrating that an excessive focus on a very small number of people arriving here in boats takes up so much attention, while there is so ...

A couple more pieces about asylum seekers & Malaysia

A couple more pieces about asylum seekers & Malaysia The Taiwan News http://www.etaiwannews.com/etn/news_content.php?id=1009086〈=eng_news reports that “Malaysian authorities have arrested five immigration officers suspected of selling ‘illegal’ immigrants from Myanmar to human traffickers” – reportedly the “first time Malaysia has found evidence that government officials were involved in forced labour exploitation” Meanwhile, http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,25797512-7583,00.html Mike Steketee from The Australian lays out some basic facts that must be taken into account with the current ...

Malaysia and refugees

The political responses to asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat is starting to focus more and more on other countries in our region.  Until recently this has mostly involved Indonesia, but Malaysia is now being mentioned more frequently.  I recently wrote a piece for Crikey and also had a letter published in The Australian detailing some of the serious human rights abuses inflicted on asylum seekers and ...

Indonesian election

I’ve http://andrewbartlett.com/?cat=27 written on this blog about Indonesia quite a few times over the years, and had a couple of brief visits to Jakarta and once to Aceh. I’ve also tried to follow events in that country and speak with Indonesians – delegations and individuals – who are visiting Australia. The elections held in Indonesia over the course of this year have been very important to Australia and our ...

Trends in Coalition asylum seeker policy and global/regional refugee movements

I had an article published in the main Crikey e-newsletter today, outlining some of the trends, facts and government responses to the well over 40 million refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced and stateless people around the world. It seems likely the issue of asylum seeker boat arrivals will once again be moving closer to the political centre stage in Australia, even though these currently number less than 1000 out of ...

Is a “no boats” goal all that matters?

A post by Nayano at a Possie in Aussie drew my attention to a story in The Agedetailing a visit by a Federal Government's security adviser “to Malaysia and Sri Lanka to negotiate ways to stop the flow of asylum seekers to Australia.”  Many asylum seekers go via Malaysia to Indonesia where they try to apply with the UNHCR for recognition as a refugee and/or try to get on a ...

Malaysian MPs rushing to blogging?

Further to my preceding post about the effectiveness or otherwise of politicians using the internet to genuinely engage with people, I thought I would have seen a bit more comment about a genuine blogger, Jeff Ooi, being elected in amongst the upset results of the recent vote in Malaysia, (as I mentioned in a previous post). Whilst no doubt this was due to wider factors than just his blog, from ...

Human rights conference and more elections in Taiwan

Last month I spent a few days in Taiwan, participating in a conference examining the human rights situation in China in the leadup to the Beijing Olympics. This was held just after Steven Spielberg announced he was withdrawing as artistic advisor to the Beijing Olympics in protest at the Chinese government’s links to the regime conducting the ongoing atrocities in Sudan, but before the latest government crackdown in ...

Governing coalition bruised in Malaysian election (and a blogger gets elected)

A very important election for our region was held over the weekend, with the poll for Malaysia’s national Parliament occurring, along with elections for twelve state legislatures. I don’t profess to be an expert on this country, but the prospect of a significant weakening in power for the ruling coalition, who have held office for over 50 years since the country first gained independence, seems to me to be ...

Rebuilding in Aceh

The Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 seems a very long time ago. I was fortunate to make a brief visit to Banda Aceh in mid-2005, which I wrote about here and here. Some parts of that visit I’ll never forget. This story from last weekend’s Jakarta Post (found through Breakfast Politics) gives a snapshot of the reporter’s brief visit to the area. There is still rebuilding work being done, but as the ...

Suharto and human rights

The death of former Indonesian President Suharto has naturally provided many articles examining his legacy.  Most note the major economic expansion which occurred in Indonesia during his time in power, including a relative decline in overall poverty, whilst making some mention about his “less than desirable” record on human rights (to quote Alexander Downer). Without in any way ignoring the great difficulties faced in maintaining social stability in a ...

Taiwan elections and UN representation

This year’s Presidential election in the USA is getting an enormous amount of coverage in Australia, but there’s an election a bit closer to home happening tomorrow in Taiwan (sometimes called the Republic of China). Its implications won’t be anywhere near as big for Australia or the globe compared to what happens in the USA, but every election can be significant, particularly in the south-east Asian region which, ...

Supporting Burma and the role of China

I attended a rally today, held in St Mary’s Catholic Church at South Brisbane, in support of the growing global campaign for human rights, democracy and freedom for the people of Burma. There was a similar rally in Brisbane’s Queen’s Park last Friday which I also spoke at, and another yesterday which I didn’t manage to get to. As I mentioned in a previous post, the fact that pictures ...

Next,

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.