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.

Climate Change package and the Senate

Barack Obama's visit to Canberra this week has generated a lot of attention.  But I was much happier being  in Canberra last week for the Senate’s historic vote to pass the package of legislation that will finally start moving Australia towards a clean energy future. I partly wanted to be there as a way to bear witness to the efforts of so many members and MPs of the Australian ...

Interview with McKisko

One of the best things about doing a weekly show on local radio station 4ZzZ-FM is getting the chance to find out so much about the huge number of local performers producing such a wide variety of fabulous sounds these days - and sometimes I get to talk with some of them on air as well. I had such a chance with my show this week, talking with ...

Lies, Damn Lies and really really Big Lies

With the carbon pricing legislation passing the House of Representatives, the complaints have got ever louder about Julia Gillard's 'lie' on that matter just before the last election. Coming from the party whose former leader coined the phrase "non-core promise", this might seem a bit rich. But as I was reminded tonight when I found a brief clip on YouTube, for a really world-class example of a monstrous ...

The decline (or re-defining) of blogging?

This piece in the SMH details some of the reasons why the breadth of blogging has reduced in recent times. I basically agree with the reasons it outlines, not least because it goes to some of the same reasons I've expressed on this site previously. Ironically, I read the SMH piece because it was linked to in the first post on a new blog by Annabel Crabb, which ...

Industrial relations & productivity

The Australian newspaper has been running one of their not-very-subtle campaigns for 'reform' of industrial relations laws, blaming the current laws (which partially rolled back Workchoices) for declining productivity. Today's they've made it the main front page story, with a headline saying - Lucky to lazy country: review industrial relations laws to stop decline, says Glenn Stevens - drawing from commentary to a Parliamentary Committee yesterday by the ...

Downsides of the mining boom

I'm MC at a free public forum in Brisbane tomorrow (Tuesday) evening on the topic of Can Queensland Afford the Mining Boom? The forum is organised by The Australia Institute, whose Executive Director, Dr Richard Denniss will be speaking. It will explore the economic and social downsides of the mining boom. (I imagine some of the environmental downsides will get a mention too).  I did a brief interview ...

Voiceless animal law lectures happening this week

Voiceless is an Australian organisation dedicated to alleviating the suffering of animals, and each year they hold a lecture series focused on animal law.  This year's lecture features Peter Stevenson, the chief policy advisor for Compassion In World Farming in Europe.  Among other things, he will drawing attention to the potential health impacts from the overuse of antibiotics on animals in factory farming situations. The lectures are happening around ...

Detention Insanity

There is a well known definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  The current humanitarian disaster unfolding in Australia's immigration detention centres is a classic - and disgraceful example. If there was one unequivocal, indisputable fact that arose from government policy and management of detention centres during the Howard era, it was that it was an incredibly expensive way ...

Questioning Question Time (again)

There have been many comments made about how badly Question Time in the Australian Parliament looks in comparison to the Question Time in the UK House of Commons recently shown on local television. This piece by Katherine Murphy in The Age is a good example. Its opening paragraphs state that "there is no more grinding and time-wasting ritual in federal politics" than the "pathetic", "banal and pointless spectacle" ...

Peace Convergence against war games in Yeppoon

I wrote on this blog four years ago about going to Yeppoon to participate in the Peace Convergance, protesting against the Talisman Sabre military exercises, which are held nearby in the beautiful Shoalwater-Byfield area. This weekend I went to Yeppoon for the same purpose, speaking at a rally held on the beachfront. I speak at and support such events because I believe it is important to encourage more ...

Interview with Greens’ Senator Scott Ludlam on this week’s 4ZZZ show

This week I had the privilege of having Greens' Senator Scott Ludlam in the studio for an interview.  Together with my regular interlocutor, Mr Peter J Black, we spoke about the recent carbon pricing announcement, the internet filter and the NBN, and nuclear waste, nuclear power and Fukushima. You can listen to it all by clicking on this link - (unfortunately due to copyright laws I have to edit out ...

Quandmooka Native Title claim recognised … at last

In my very First Speech to the Senate back in 1997, I praised the Native Title negotiations then taking place between the Quandamooka people, the Traditional Owners of Stradbroke Island, and what was then the Redland Shire Council.  I mentioned it as a positive example of what Native Title could deliver for our entire community, as those negotiations seemed to be progressing well at the time.  I never ...

Greens, Democrats and the Senate balance of power

Today marks the day the Greens officially gain sole balance of power in the Senate. It also marks the thirtieth anniversary of the day the Democrats first gained the Senate balance of power back in 1981. Many people focus on the difficulties and disappointments of the Democrats declining years, and it reasonable to consider how the Greens might best avoid this fate. But it is equally important to remember ...

The future of the Bookshop – interview with the owner of one of Brisbane’s older book outlets

Nick Sherry drew a lot of media coverage (and opprobrium from bookshop owners/representatives) this week for his suggestion that in five years time, the traditional book store as we know it will barely exist outside of major cities.  By total coincidence (or as an example of my uncanny ability to tap into current stories even before they've happened), I interviewed Hamish Alcorn, the proprietor of Brisbane bookstore Archives ...

Improving our country’s Constitution

The moves to recognise Australia's First Peoples in our nation's Constitution are starting to gather pace.  The federal government has pledged to hold a referendum on this by the time of the next election - that is, within 2 years - which is not a lot of time to build community awareness and understanding of the issues. The Panel established to engage and seek community views has set up ...

Time to remove mandatory sentencing of ‘people smugglers’

The groups of people who have suffered most from Australia's long-standing absurdly politicised, disproportionate and irrational debate around asylum seekers are the asylum seekers themselves. But another group who have been subjected to disproportionate and unjustified punishment who get very little attention are the hundreds of impoverished Indonesian fishermen who are subjected to mandatory jail sentences for participating in transporting asylum seekers to Australia. Of course, if we just ...

This week’s shift on 4ZzZ

My regular talk with Peter Black this week covered the NSW election result, some of the criticisms of the Greens from Julia Gillard and regarding Israel policy, plus the LNP, Libya and the Logies.  You can listen to it by going to this link. The playlist for this week's show is here, and my suggestion for a Brisbane band to check out is electronic duo Edge of Colour, who ...

Interview with Natalie Pa’apa’a from Blue King Brown

I was fortunate enough this week to be able to do a live interview with Natalie Pa'apa'a, the singer of Blue King Brown on my weekly show on 4ZzZ FM.  I find Blue King Brown to be one of the more vibrant and interesting amongst what is admittedly a very large, diverse and multifaceted range of Australian outfits. They also aren't shy in singing about social and political ...

Qld LNP’s Campbell Newman breaks new ground

I am happy to be corrected, but I can't think of an equivalent circumstance in Australian politics at state or federal level where a major party has had their Opposition 'Leader' and alternative Premier/Prime Minister being outside the Parliament. Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman's announcement that he is seeking to run for state Parliament as the alternative Premier at the next Queensland election is an interesting - some would ...

The growing shift from blogs to Facebook

This article in the New York Times about more people shifting away from 'long form' blogs to sites like Facebook and Twitter details pretty well why I've been doing less and less stuff on this blog, and more stuff just on Facebook or Twitter. I remember when I first started this blog (now waaaay too long ago to think too much about) I was determined to just try it ...

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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