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). http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/no-excuse-for-beastly-behaviour-towards-pigs/story-e6frg6zo-1226674775633

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 Minister rather than a retiring MP”? Sometimes I think that cynicism is justified (For example, I find it hard to fully accept Bob Hawke’s lamentation on his final day in office that he wished he’d been able to do more for Aboriginal people, as he was in a direct position to deliver more – ideally on a Treaty, which he shouldn’t have promised if he couldn’t deliver, but especially on national Land Rights laws where he undoubtedly had the power and the capacity to get such laws through Parliament, but chose not too)

But I also know from my own experience that when you hold a senior position in a party (or many other organisations) you can’t always publicly say everything you really think on every issue, which is fair enough as (unless you’re elected as an Independent) you’re there to represent large groups of people who have had input into party policies and decisions and/or supported them so to some extent you are speaking for them too.

It’s quite common when you finish up in a role to wish you’d been able to achieve more, and I was no exception in that regard (although there are always plenty of other ways to try to make a difference apart from being in Parliament). In hindsight, I could have stopped the Democrats supporting the GST, or if there actually had been genuine support for it within the party, had the party actually campaign in favour of it rather than devoting all our energies pointing out what was wrong with it. On the other hand, even in hindsight I can’t see how I could have helped stop the calamitous collapse of the Democrats from 2002 onwards (even though there’s a few things I’d have done differently, I still can’t see any way it could have been prevented – as has been shown in other contexts in recent years, if you have someone(s) inside your party who is basically prepared to go to any lengths to tear someone down and have qualms about chucking an endless supply of hand grenades, there’s not a lot you can do about it.

Anyway, whilst I did raise animal rights issues fairly often while I was in Parliament, I still felt at the end that I could have done more on this – although having said that, it was and is an area where it is hard to make major gains, and a lot of extra work on my part might still not have produced many great advances.

It is always good to see a public figure speaking out unequivocally about major, regular, institutionalised cruelty suffered by animals. I’d love to have seen it as loudly when he were Minister for Trade (and in Cabinet in general), but I know the reality is that constraints on expressing individual opinions way outside the norm (and outside your portfolio) can be pretty strong. But I hope he did get the chance to make an impression on some of his colleagues in other Ministries at the time. Maybe once the election is over there might be scope for more to be done on the issue.

Advertisement

No Comments, Comment or Ping

Reply to “Former Trade Minister highlights common cruelty to pigs”

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. I don’t suggest it means the end of independent commentary online – as the last post on LP indicates, many of those involved will continue to do similar things in other ways. But, whilst not quite the end of an era, it is a significant signpost in the evolution of independent political blogs.

    (I know my headline to this post does say it’s the end of an era –  was going to say it’s the end of a blogging phase, which is probably more accurate but frankly makes a pretty lame looking headline)

    http://larvatusprodeo.net/archives/2012/04/10/larvatus-prodeos-last-post/
  • 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.