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.

Review of NT Intervention

There are lots of coverage and comment about the report by the independent group reviewing the Northern Territory intervention.  This is one of the more important amongst the many reviews set in train by the federal government. I hope the government is able to ignore the politics and focus on the substance of the report. As I said many times in the various pieces I have written about the ...

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No link between permit system & child abuse

The previous federal government used the spectre of child sexual abuse as justification to scrap the permit system contained in the Land Rights Act, which required people wishing to visit Aboriginal freehold land in the Northern Territory to first obtain permission. It was cheered on its efforts by its ideological fellow-travellers, who were happy to smear anyone who did not support the move as protecting paedophiles and other ...

Suffer the little children

I have been reading a book by Rosemary Neill called "White Out – how politics is killing black Australia". It was published back in 2002 but its core message is even more valid now than it was then – that the desire of people from across the spectrum to use Indigenous issues to reinforce their preferred political or ideological narrative is coming before ensuring public policy assists rather than ...

Some current Senate Committee Inquiries

The federal Parliament is now on a seven week break, and doesn’t sit again until May 13th, the day the Rudd government brings down its first Budget. In the case of the Senate, this will be just the eleventh sitting day for the year. However, there is a lot of work in the Senate that happens outside of sitting days, not least through Senate Committee inquiries. After spending most ...

Liberal Party Campaign Launch

According to the word count on my computer program, the Prime Minister’s speech at the Liberal Party’s campaign launch today contained four thousand four hundred and four words. The only words that referred directly to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people were the following: …. I want to be Prime Minister again so that we can achieve a lasting recognition in our constitution of the first Australians, the indigenous people ...

Intervention Correction

I have got word that amendments to the Northern Territory intervention laws are already being proposed, with some changes likely to appear when the Senate sits from today. The provisions regarding limits on the amounts of alcohol able to be purchased in prescribed areas are proving to be very complex – measuring the total alcohol content of the whole purchase when someone buys a range of different ...

Where to now in the Northern Territory

The Northern Territory government has now produced its response to the Little Children are Sacred report, responding to each recommendation as well as addressing some additional areas. Of course, the federal government used the failure of the NT government to respond quickly enough to this report as its justification for intervening in the Territory and giving themselves a whole lot of extra powers (and taking a lot of ...

Cynical hypocrisy on council elections provides a chance to promote genuine democracy

The Prime Minister has put forward legislation which will allow taxpayers from around Australia to fund plebiscites for people in Queensland who want to express their view on whether they support their local council being forced to amalgamate with others. The Queensland government has already made it clear it will ignore the results of the plebiscites. Not surprisingly, the Prime Minister's stout defence of the right of people to ...

A Grave Mistake – Debate on NT Intervention laws draws to a close

I'm writing this from the Senate chamber, where debate is drawing to a close on the package of laws relating to the Northern Territory intervention (although the laws also include some other matters which affect people outside the Territory). It will pause at midnight tonight, and we'll resume tomorrow morning (Friday) to conclude the debate. The government has refused to consider any amendments. Noel Pearson, normally seen as a ...

Senate Committee examining NT laws not hearing from authors of Little Children are Sacred report

The Liberal government has used its control of the Senate to force two Committees to hold just single day hearings tomorrow (Friday) into (1) the entire pack of legislation relating the Northern Territory Aboriginal intervention and other welfare quarantining measures, and (2) the Water Bill, implementing the government's contentious Murray-Darling Basin measures. In both cases, the legislation being examined was only introduced into Parliament this week. Some of the ...

NT legislation set to be bulldozed through Senate

The federal government's legislation relating to the Northern Territory is finally starting to appear around the place. According to Minister Brough the entire package was only finalised at 1pm Sunday. It started providing copies of the legislation to people on the Monday. It will be introduced into the House of Representatives today (Tuesday) and the government's intention is for it to be passed tonight. I have also been ...

Some impressions following my Northern Territory visit

As mentioned here, I spent most of last week in Darwin and Alice Springs, meeting with and listening to people about their views on the federal government’s intervention into Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. I had eleven formal meetings, plus two informal talks with people over dinner. This involved around 70 people in total. The groups included health organisations, child and family organisations, land councils, health researchers and ...

Northern Territory – Aboriginal Children VII

I'm in the Northern Territory throughout this week, meeting with as many groups as I can to get a sense of the views about the federal government's intervention in the Territory. I'll write some more at the end of the week, but as I noted recently, it is now more than a month since the intervention into Aboriginal communities was announced, so I am interested in what ...

Aboriginal Children VI

Yesterday marked one month since the Prime Minister declared there was “a national emergency in relation to the abuse of children in indigenous communities in the Northern Territory,” in response to the first sentence of the first recommendation of the Little Children are Sacred report. At the time, it appeared the federal government was ignoring the second sentence of that recommendation (not to mention most of the following 96 ...

Aboriginal Children V

In amongst the many words written in many places about the "Little Children are Sacred" report into the sexual abuse of Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory, there is one small point but fairly important point which I haven't seen much mention of. In a way it links to one of the issues I raised in a past post on Aboriginal languages. Part of recommendation 93 of the ...

Aboriginal Children IV

There have been quite a few columns in The Australian newspaper leading the ideological chorus trying to howl down anyone who critiques the detail (or lack thereof) of the federal government's intervention into Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. So it's always refreshing when some common sense on the issue appears in their pages. Mike Steketee wrote in today's edition

Aboriginal Children III

Matt Price in The Australian talks some common sense: Plainly, everybody is in favour of protecting children. It’s how to first patrol and then change behaviour in remote communities that’s problematic and it’s now clear that for all their good intentions, the PM and minister Mal Brough are making it up as they go along.

Aboriginal Children II

I have been one of many people, black and white, who have been calling on governments for a long time to make child abuse and Indigenous issues major, national priorities. As was noted in the Foreward of the recent Northern Territory Report on the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse, it was via my motion that the Senate passed an all-party resolution last year supporting a national ...

Aboriginal Children

Just before parliament rose for a six week break, the Prime Minister announced a major series of proposals to take control of Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory, and significant aspects of their lives, as part of responding to the latest report on sexual abuse of Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory – a topic I spoke on in the Senate earlier this week. Given that the report itself ...

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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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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