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.

Refugee Day Rally & Refugee Week

This Sunday marks the start of Refugee Week, with plenty of events around the country to acknowledge and celebrate the contribution refugees have made and continue to make to our society, culture and economy. I'm speaking at a rally being held in Brisbane Square this Sunday from 1pm to mark World Refugee Day. I have attended many refugee week events over the years, and they often involve people from ...


The Hunger Summit

I've posted a piece over at The Stump about the links between global hunger and climate change, and the unfortunate parallels between the less than successful climate change summit in Copenhagen and an even more dismal outcome at the recent Hunger Summit in Rome, which received far less attention.

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 ...

Report on the Pacific & climate change forum

Last night I attended the public forum I wrote about here, featuring Pacific Island peoples speaknig about the impacts of climate change on their homelands, health and cultures. It was very well attended and the speakers were engaging and enlightening. I've published a piece about it over at Crikey at this link. If for some reaon you want to see my efforts at live-Tweeting the forum, ...

Why our Parliaments don’t work as well as they should (or our governments get away with too much)

If you are only going to read one thing about how Australia’s federal Parliament works – and more importantly how it doesn’t work – read this fabulous piece by the long-standing Clerk of the Senate, Harry Evans. Among many things, he highlights the fact that the supposed ‘Westminster system’ we are repeatedly told Australia has, is in fact no such thing.  The almost totally rigid party discipline – a relatively ...

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 ...

Online public consultations

There is less than a week to go for people to put in personal submissions for the national human rights consultations, with the general cut off date this coming Monday, 15 June.  If you were planning on having your say on how best to protect and promote human rights and responsibilities, now is the time to do it.   The efforts at consultation, carried out by an independent committee ...

Boat People tragedy & another war of words

The tragic explosion on a boatload filled with refugees from Afghanistan has generated another war of words over asylum seeker policies in Australia.  Ive written a piece on this over at Crikey, which you can read by clicking here.  We've had enough debate on this site about asylum seeker issues lately, so I'll leave comments off here. Comments can be made over at that site.

Blogs try to counter censorship in Fiji

In May 2007, months after Fiji had suffered its latest coup, I noted reports that the military was trying to prevent access to anti-government blogs. Now the transition to a military dictatorship is complete, the censorship crackdown on the local media has been redoubled, leaving local blogs and other websites as a crucial source of uncensored news from Fiji.  I've done a post on the Crikey website with more details.

What’s COAG doing about housing?

All of the attention on this weekend’s COAG meeting between federal and state governments has focused on funding agreements for health and education. The equally important area of housing seems to have fallen off the public radar.  Click here to read a piece I’ve written at Crikey on this matter.

Will Indigenous communities see any of the infrastructure spending boost?

Everyone knows that billions of dollars are needed to address the third world conditions many Indigenous Australians live in, including horrendously overcrowded housing, poor road access and other infrastructure problems.  But I haven’t seen any mention so far of spending money to address these problems in the flurry of bidding that has started following the federal government’s announcement they are looking at spending $20 billion on infrastructure to ...

Ronan Lee promotes green-ness more strongly than anticipated!

Ronan Lee was due to speak just prior to me at the Love Earth Gathering at the top of Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall yesterday morning.  When I arrived, the organisers told me he had sent them a text message that morning giving his apologies, saying an urgent matter had come up.  I must say that, despite his previous record of being prepared to be a bit outspoken, I’d ...

Campaign against Traveston Dam paddles onward

If you're in Brisbane this Saturday morning, you can lend support to the campaign against the Traveston Dam by farewelling marathon kayaker Steve Posselt as he heads off on another journey to spread the message.  He's leaving around 12 noon from the boat ramp at West End on Riverside Drive, between Jane and Boundary Streets.  Last time he paddled from Brisbane up to the site of the dam, ...

Give Petro a go!

I’ve been pondering the possible makeup of the Malcolm Turnbull’s shadow ministry, likely to be announced tomorrow. With 45 positions from 101 MPs, you think there'd be little trouble getting all the really talented people a spot. But it never works that easily of course. The need to minimise internal unrest probably means there won’t be a huge number of demotions or surprises, even before other factors like factional, ...

Crikey piece on the Senate’s reject pile

Two weeks of the new Senate is enough to show there is a strong likelihood of the government ending up with a large pile of rejected legislation - plenty for a double dissolution election some time next year should Kevin Rudd want one.  There have already been four packages of legislation knocked back so far this year. I've written about it in more detail in this piece over at Crikey.  

Crikey piece on the prompt return of Senate bashing

Crikey has expanded their efforts at giving exposure to the blogosphere, setting up a page displaying a range of bloggers, including some of their existing contributors having a go in the blogging format. I’ll be writing regular pieces for Crikey which will appear on their site. You can read the first of them by clicking here. It’s about the prompt reappearance of the time-honoured tradition Senate bashing, as soon ...


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.