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.

The Liberal’s compulsion to turn public assets into private wealth – and get the public to help fund the process

The LNP in Queensland have been softening up the public for a privatisation binge pretty much from the day they got elected in 2012. In recent times, they’ve kindly made the public pay millions for a prolonged wide-ranging advertising campaign – badly disguised as a pretend consultation process called Strong Choices. Naturally, any input from the public that didn’t back privatisation was ignored and the recent ...

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Political donations: buying influence and outcomes.

The furore in New South Wales over developers and resource companies seeking to buy influence through political donations has died down a bit as focus has turned to the federal Budget. Whilst no one is linking Budget decisions to specific donations, it is pretty obvious the Coalition has brought down a Budget which favours many of their major financial backers, whilst a very large number of less ...

On War and Remembrance

Since I took up studying teaching, all that half-silly/half-sinister commentary that happens from time to time alleging Australia’s school children are having their brains filled with left-wing propaganda – especially when it comes to history – has become a bit more directly relevant for me. Although it’s pretty clear that fact-free fumigating by some random politician – even a random Education Minister – has little direct effect ...

Time to restore an Upper House in Qld’s Parliament

Calls to bring back the Upper House - or Legislative Council - in Queensland's Parliament appear with fairly regular frequency. Like every other state Upper House at the time, when Queensland's Legislative Council voted to abolish itself back in 1921, all its members were appointed rather than elected - something which certainly needed addressing. However, every other state (eventually) dealt with this through the obvious mechanism of requiring ...

Dead Blogs

As anyone passing by this site in recent months would know, this blg has basically been dead for some time. But perhaps it's just been resting. When I saw a piece towards the end of last year by Jason Kottke called The Blog is Dead (long live the blog) - http://kottke.org/13/12/rip-the-blog-1997-2013 - it seemed apt. He, and others who responded, such as John Scalzi - http://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/12/19/the-death-of-the-blog-again-again/ - made ...

More on Senate Preferences

The possibility of people getting elected to the Senate with virtually no public support has been greater coverage, with a piece in today’s SMH and Antony Green letting fly about it on the ABC this morning. http://youtu.be/xT7t8Xt7qms Given this is how the Senate voting system works, it’s probably idealistic to hope that people wouldn’t try to game it. And it’s certainly very common for parties of all sizes to look ...

Senate preference mayhem: 0.2% of the vote could be enough to win

This election sees a record number of parties contesting the Senate and a record number of candidates. Even people like me who enjoy filling in all the squares below the line on the Senate ballot paper might balk at having to fill in 82 squares (if you’re in Queensland), 102 (if you’re in NSW) or 97 (if you’re in Victoria). I tend to start with my top few, ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Interview with Peter J Black: Racial vilifaction vs freedom of speech

A recent controversy over a blatantly racist page on Facebook - and Facebook's delay in taking the page down - raised the issue of how best to address cases of blatant racial vilification. Similar issues were raised with the trial of Andrew Bolt for columns he wrote which were found to breach the Racial Discrimination Act. I recently spoke about these issues with law lecturer Peter J Black, who ...

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 ...

Bob Brown’s retirement – what next? Discuss

Large amounts have already been written about the surpise decision by Bob Brown to retire from the Senate and as Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Greens. I did a fair bit of media commentary on Bob Brown's announcement, so to get some idea of my views on the immediate context, you can read this piece from the Brisbane Times, listen to this interview with Kelly Higgins-Devine on 612 ABC ...

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 ...

Anita Heiss – positive messages in the face of negative attacks

A few weeks ago I interviewed author Anita Heiss about her new book Am I Black Enough For You?  The book is partly a personal memoir and partly explores the issue of Aboriginal identity.  You can listen to the interview at this link. Anita Heiss was one of a number of people who took columnist Andrew Bolt to court for making a range of false claims which in effect ...

From state election to Brisbane City Council election (with a by-election on the side)

I was so focused working on the Queensland state election campaign, (relieved by the occasional brief break of feeling despondent about the Queensland state election campaign), that I didn't get around to blogging about it. Now that that election is over - although counting is still being completed - it's straight into the local government election campaign, with an extra serving of unexpected by-election happening in the seat ...

Stolen Wages stay stolen – WA’s turn

It's hard to know what to say on this issue that hasn't already been said, but the blithely blatant injustice is still hard to stomach - I can only imagine the fury many Aboriginal must feel about this. Almost five years ago I wrote here about the report of the Senate Committee Inquiry I helped establish in 2006  into wages and other entitlements stolen from Aboriginal people. I also ...

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 ...

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 ...

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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.