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.

Former Trade Minister highlights common cruelty to pigs

There was a great piece today by outgoing MP and former Cabinet Minister Craig Emerson on the enormous suffering experienced by many pigs in factory farm environments which is very common in Australia (and elsewhere). Even though I strongly agree with him, there is often a part of me when I read something like that that thinks "why didn't you say that publicly when you were a Senior ...


Australian Experimentation on Other Primates

There's an interesting story in today's Age newspaper about primates being bred in Australia for medical and other scientific research. Figures in the story show the number of primates being used for research in Australia is continuing to grow, even though protocols for the use of animals in research require alternatives to be used wherever possible. It is quite difficult to get the full picture about all the animals ...

Voiceless animal law lectures happening this week

Voiceless is an Australian organisation dedicated to alleviating the suffering of animals, and each year they hold a lecture series focused on animal law.  This year's lecture features Peter Stevenson, the chief policy advisor for Compassion In World Farming in Europe.  Among other things, he will drawing attention to the potential health impacts from the overuse of antibiotics on animals in factory farming situations. The lectures are happening around ...

The Whaling War II

The Japanese whale hunt in the Southern Ocean is always controversial in Australia. But, as predicted earlier this week, the political and public heat around the issue has escalated further in the aftermath of the ramming and subsequent sinking of the Ady Gil - a small trimaran - from the Sea Shepherd fleet, by a security ship from the whaling fleet. Most Australians are anti-whaling – a stance supported by all ...

Whaling war heats up to boiling point

The news that a vessel of the Japanese whaling fleet has deliberately rammed and sunk a small vessel of the Sea Shepherd fleet in the open ocean will lift this issue to a whole new level. It could well lead to serious harm to diplomatic and other relations between Australia and Japan. In looking at how things have come to this point, it is worthwhile outlining some background to ...


In my recent posts on calls to ban jumps racing for horses, one of the arguments supporters of jumps racing have made is that people shouldn’t campaign to stop this activity without also campaigning against other forms of cruelty to animals. In that context, I thought I would draw attention to comments made by Ron Clarke, the man who lit the Olympic Torch at the 1956 Games in Melbourne ...

One Last Hurdle? – 18 years since Senate Committee called for Jump Racing ban

Racing Victoria meets tomorrow (Wednesday 13 May) to decide whether or not to finally follow every other state (except South Australia) in banning jumps racing. (UPDATE - decision postponed until "later in the week") Nearly a year ago, I said such a ban was well overdue. Instead, there was another review, followed by more ‘improvements’, followed by more horse deaths.  At the time I mentioned there had been two ...

Book on Australian animal law published

Most of my policy related activities at the moment are in the area of migration and multiculturalism, but I am also managing some activity in the area of animal rights and welfare. One of the things I’ve done recently is contribute a chapter to a book on animal law, which has just been released.  The book is called Animal Law in Australasia, published by Federation Press. As the blurb on the back ...

Lecture in Melbourne on the environment and animal rights

I’m in Melbourne tomorrow evening, participating in a public forum exploring the potential for greater engagement between animal welfare and environment groups and issues.

Cosy Chickens

There have been a series of small protests in Brisbane this week to highlight the suffering endured by hundreds of millions of broiler chickens every year in Australia.  The protests are being held to coincide with the World Poultry Congress being hosted in town. The industry responded by saying they are better than the industry standard, as most sheds only have 18 chickens living in each square metre. Very spacious.

No horsing around on animal cruelty

It is a truism that that all mainstream issues start off being fringe issues. I’ve campaigned on animal welfare issues since before I entered the Senate. Despite the fact that there is often widespread public opposition to animal cruelty, animal welfare is still generally treated as a fringe issue in politics, and usually in the media as well. Even though the general notion of significantly improving animal welfare standards ...

Jump racing ban overdue

Two more horses were killed today in a hurdles race at Melbourne’s Flemington race course. There had  already been eight horses killed in Victorian jump races since March. The Minister has promised to bring forward his review as a consequence, but there were already reviews six years ago and three years ago.

Still Whaling

I support the campaigns and efforts to stop whaling by Japanese boats; a view which most Australians seem to share. It is also one of the few issues where the federal Liberal Party is comfortable making very hardline pro-environment and anti-animal cruelty statements. Former Environment Minister Ian Campbell has just been appointed to the advisory board of the Sea Shepherd, a group usually seen as more radical in ...

Its not (just) the economy

With all the major parties focussing so heavily on economic matters once again, it can be easy to forget that there are other equally important things which also deserve major political attention. I tried campaigning on a few of these last week, albeit with not a great deal of success.

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 ...

A few days and a few different issues

I’ve been fairly busy the last few days on various activities which have kept me away from a computer, so I haven’t been able to post anything on this site. Here’s a quick snapshot of some of the things I’ve been working on in recent days – I might expand on some of them in future posts.

Drug testing on animals

When I talk about animal welfare issues, I often feel I am running the risk that I will be accused of being more concerned about (non-human) animals than about humans. This is doubly so when I talk about the use of animals in experimentation. It was therefore irritating, although not totally surprising, that the “Hands Off Our Ovaries” group recently put out a media release saying “Senator Bartlett ...

A feathered bouquet to the Beattie government

In case anyone thinks I never praise the state or federal governments, here's a special word of praise to the Queensland government for pressing ahead with their promise to bring in legislation to amend the Nature Conservation Act to ban recreational duck and quail hunting in Queensland.The government had previously announced they would do this, but I hope people will pardon my cynicism in wanting to see if ...

Piggery Cruelty on Today Tonight tonight

Today Tonight is probably one of my least favourite shows, but I’ll be watching it tonight at 6.30. I understand that they are planing to screen a story tonight on conditions in a piggery in South Australia. While I imagine the conditions there are similar to what the vast majority of mother pigs endure in factory farms around Australia, this particular piggery apparently is part owned ...

Killer had history of animal cruelty

A report in the Courier-Mail this weekend gives me cause to repeat the fact I mentioned in a recent post about the clear link between people committing cruelty to animals and violence to humans. The newspaper quoted from a psychiatric report for Francis Michael Fahey, who has just been given two life sentences for murdering two prostitutes in Brisbane. The report states that “he enjoyed cruelty to pigs and ...


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.