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.

Raising age for Aged Pension eligibility put on agenda

When I posed the question a couple of months ago about whether it was time to increase the eligibility age for the Aged Pension,  one of the last groups I would have expected to promote the idea was the National Seniors. But to their credit, that is what they are doing, reportedly calling on the federal government to “raise the retirement are to 75 and increase compulsory superannuation ...

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ABS report into not-for-profits

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has just released an interesting report into not-for-profit organisations.  It is a timely snapshot, given the current Senate Committee inquiry into charities and other not-for-profit organisations. Some of the findings include

Liberal Senator calls for special schools to be abolished

I was interested to read that Queensland Liberal Senator Sue Boyce has called for special schools to be abolished and children with disabilities integrated into mainstream schools

Time to increase the eligibility age for the Aged Pension?

Federal politicians understandably got a lot of correspondence expressing concern about the low level of the Age Pension. In amongst those that I got, every now and then there would be one which would assert that we have all had to pay extra income tax for the last sixty years for a fund which was supposed to have been used to provide for the pension but never has. As ...

Push to increase Age Pension

There is no doubt that a media driven campaign to whip up concern about the possibility of the non-existent Carers Bonus being 'cut' in the upcoming Budget played a key role in the government's decision to announce a few weeks ago that a 'one-off' payment of a Carers Bonus will be paid again (for what will be the fifth 'one-off' time in a row). The Canberra Times' Peter Martin outlined ...

A constituent’s Centrelink story

The so-called 'welfare reforms' made by the federal government have caused stress and hardship for some sole parents and people with disabilities, but there are many other people who also have to deal with the way 'mutual' obligation is enacted through our welfare system. Following is an example I recently received from a constituent:

Concerns from the disability sector

I’ve focused a fair bit in the last year or so on seeking the views of people working for advocacy and service organizations aimed at assisting people with disabilities. The following issues are ones that have been raised in various ways by many of them.

Down Syndrome

Amongst all my activities, I try to meet reasonably regularly with a range of community organisations to help keep me in better touch with some of the issues at community level. Even if there is no immediate issue I can assist them with, it is always useful for me to get a better understanding of their activities and concerns, and to get more aware of the specific ...

Work or less welfare

This piece in yesterday’s Australian about sole parents is a good example of statistics being twisted to look good. Nearly 1600 single mothers forced to look for part-time jobs under the Howard Government's welfare-to-work policy have found employment.Figures show that the Government forced 3724 parents off single parent benefit and on to the dole between July 1 and December 8 last year, telling them to find part-time work. Of ...

Disability Agreement

I'm in Hobart at the moment for another round of hearings on the Commonwealth-State/Territory Disability Agreement (CSTDA), following on from some I went to in Brisbane last week. (It seems that unawares I flew in on the same plane as Princess Mary, which shows how unobservant I am) The next round of the CSTDA is in the early stages of being negotiated between the two tiers of ...

Support for people with disabilities

The Community Affairs Committee is currently examining the funding and operation of the Commonwealth-State/Territory Disability Agreement (along with four other inquiries). I was in Sydney today attending part of a public hearing for this Inquiry. The next round of the CSTDA is currently being negotiated between the two levels of government. Hopefully the information provided to this Senate Inquiry will help make the new Agreement more effective ...

Qld Parents for People with a Disability turns 25

Last Saturday night, I was able to attend a dinner to mark the 25th anniversary of Queensland Parents for People with a Disability (QPPD). For any community based advocacy group to last 25 years is an achievement in itself, but to survive and continue to have a viable role to play is something really worth celebrating and acknowledging.

Helping foster carers

One of the problematic aspects of politics is the way in which policy debates can turn into rhetorical stoushes, which do not necessarily relate to the reality of how things are at community level. I try to ensure that my office regularly touches base with a range of community organisations so we can retain an idea of what the issues are for them, as opposed to what politicians or ...

Big Brother meets Nanny State or necessary child protection measure?

Federal family Services Minster, Mal Brough, has floated a proposal to allow government to require parents, who are found to be failing to provide for their children, to have part of their welfare payment compulsorily quarantined so it is spent on rent, electricity and food for the children. The Minister says it “is a debate we must have” and “it is a debate that I want to pursue in ...

The week ahead 2 – Carer’s Allowance changes

The government is putting up changes to reduce the amount which new applicants for Carer’s Allowance can claim in back payments. I wrote about them in this entry. Some of the comments to that post also contain extra information. The legislation goes by the title of the Family Assistance, Social Security and Veterans’ Affairs Legislation Amendment (2005 Budget and Other Measures) Bill 2006. The Committee report ...

Legislation to reduce payment to Carers : Tuesday (pt 1)

I had another Committee hearing today, this time in Canberra into some new Social Security legislation arising out of last year's Budget. Like many such Bills, it contains a number of different, disconnected measures

Looking for another Judi in the Senate

Margo Kingston's site has an interview with Liberal MP, Judi Moylan, who abstained on the vote in the House of Representatives on the government's welfare legislation. She seems to have been the only Liberal MP to admit the basic fact that the legislation will directly lead to many poor and disadvantaged people having their payments significantly reduced. She stated that she abstained rather than voted against the Bill ...

Will there be just one day each to debate the welfare changes and the terror law?

The government has released their draft Senate legislation program for next week. It shows just one day – Monday - set aside for the debate on the terror legislation, with only the Tuesday to deal with the welfare changes. The final 3 sitting days have 15 other pieces of legislation listed, including the VSU Bill and the Northern Territory radioactive waste Bill.

Senate Committee reports – the good, the bad and the minority

The Senate Committee report into the terror law that was tabled today provides a very good example of how valuable it can be when a few government Senators show sufficient courage to actually admit to and point out significant flaws in a piece of legislation. On this occasion, the Government (and non-government) Senators recommended over 50 changes that should be made. Margot Kingston's site provides some good ...

Senate reports on terror and welfare laws tabled on Monday

This weekend I am working on my contribution to the Senate Committee report into the government's welfare changes, as well as examining the details of the planned Terror law. The Committee reports into the welfare package and the terror measures will both be tabled in the Senate on Monday afternoon (sometime after 3.30pm). These will give an insight into the potential for any further amendments to ...

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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.

  • 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.