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 ...


Peter Black interview + songlist from this morning’s 4ZzZ show

My weekly on-air chat on 4ZzZ FM with Peter Black can be heard at this link.  It covers the flood levy stoush, the Egypt stoush, the advertising stoush at Online Opinion - and suggests checking out a new site, Readability, that makes websites easier to read. You can also have a look at my songlist from the show this morning at this link. My recommended Brisbane band of the ...

Wikileaks : some thoughts on what is happening and where it might lead

The current Wikileaks/'cablegate' affair raises quite a range of issues, not all of which are clear cut.  But I have to say that one thing which should be beyond dispute is that, whatever one's views might be about what Wikileaks is doing or about Julian Assange as an individual, it is not good enough for our government to sit back and say nothing while senior US political figures ...

Peter Black on wikileaks + Brisband of the week: this week’s 4ZzZ show

As usual on my Monday morning radio shift on community radio 4ZzZ-FM (which is celebrating it's 35th birthday this week), I had a prolonged chat with social media consumer, commentator and lawyer Peter Black.  You can listen to this week's talk at this link.  A large part of our conversation this week focused on the Wikileaks issue - a debate with quite a number of aspects to it. ...

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, ...

Nauru redux – it ain’t no ‘boarding school’

The prospect of the refugee detention camps on Nauru being reopened has become very real, with the issue of asylum seekers in boats apparently being of such magnitude to Tony Abbott that he would make it virtually his first priority for action above almost everything else, should he end up being elected on the weekend. Apart from a visit by Philip Ruddock and the then shadow Minister for Labor, ...

Mountains of Coal

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post about mountaintop mining in the USA. All mining has some impact, but the sheer destructiveness of this type of mining is astonishing - and that's before you take into account the greenhouse impact of the coal. This article in the New York Times details the potential impact of a similar project in West Virginia. The significance of this proposal ...

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 ...

First candidate forum for Brisbane

The contest for the House of Reps seat of Brisbane at this year's federal election will almost certainly be the only one which features 3 competing candidates each with over 10 years of experience in the federal Parliament. Those 3 candidates are: - Arch Bevis, who has held the seat on behalf of the Labor Party since 1990; - Teresa Gambaro from the Liberal National Party, who held the seat of ...

Progress in efforts to ban cluster bombs

Last week, the international convention to ban the use of cluster bombs and other munitions was ratified by two more countries, providing the 30 ratifications needed for it to become officially binding international law.  The Convention on Cluster Munitions will now come into force this year on 1 August, little more than two years after it was first adopted in Dublin in May 2008. Since then, movement on this convention ...

Interview with musician Ember Swift: on building bridges with Chinese music, language & ways of acting for change

This week on my regular shift on 4ZZZ FM, (Brisbane’s independent music and news radio station), I interviewed Ember Swift, an interesting Canadian-born musician and advocate for activism.  She recently made her fourth appearance at the Woodford Folk Festival, and is playing her final Australian show this weekend on Saturday night (Jan 23) at The Troubador in the Valley Mall. Her style of music has been labelled as ‘folktronic’, ...

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 ...

Blogging across national boundaries

Blogging across nations A couple of months ago, I started doing a few blog posts a week at a new site called 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, ...

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.

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 ...

It was 20 years ago today.

It was 20 years ago today. On 20 November 1989, the international Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC) was formally adopted.  According to Human Rights Watch, the Convention became “the most widely and rapidly ratified human rights treaty in history.  Twenty years on, only two countries have failed to ratify the Convention – Somalia and the USA. In the USA, Presidential action to ratify an international treaty ...

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 ...


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.

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  • 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.

  • A long time between hits

    In amongst all the politics and policy stuff, I try to make time to do some things that are completely disconnected from that*.  One thing I’ve found myself doing recently is doing a bit of practicing with a band, which has led to me doing a live performance for the first time in a long time.  Readers of this blog with a very long memory for minor matters may recall that I played keyboards in a couple of mini-performances with a band as part of promoting the Rock Against Howard compilation CD prior to the 2004 election.  However, drumming is what I’m better at – although I’m still a long way short of being able to say I’m good at it – which is what I am doing in the band I’m currently doing stuff with.  They’re doing their first full live Brisbane show tonight – which I think will be the first time since 1988 I’ve played drums in a live show.  It’s all nice and low-key, and for peoples’ enjoyment rather with an eye to making money out of it, so will make a nice change. *Actually, I don’t think anything is completely disconnected from politics. By coincidence, today also happens to be National SLAM Day – Save Live Australian Music.  As their website shows,

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  • 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.

  • Stuff from my 4ZZZ shift this week

    Every Monday morning I do a shift on radio 4ZzZ FM102.1 – Brisbane’s longest serving community radio station (36 years old this year). And almost every week I talk with social media expert and lawyer Peter Black about some current political and other issues. You can listen to our talk this week by clicking on this link (it goes for over 30 minutes and has the occasional sweary word, so probably best just for dedicated fans). You can see the songlist I played this week – as usual featuring a sizable number of local artists – at this link, which in most cases also contains further links to other videos, information or photos of the artists.