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Andrew Bartlett at his re-election campaign launch in July 2007


Andrew John Julian Bartlett (born 4 August 1964) is an Australian politician who was an Australian Democrats member of the Australian Senate from 1997 to 2008, representing the state of Queenslandmarker. He was the leader of the Democrats from 2002 to 2004, and deputy leader from 2004 to 2008.

Early life and background

Bartlett was born in Brisbanemarker, where he has lived all his life. He is married with one daughter. Andrew is of Irish, Swiss, English and Greek origins, including a great-great-grandfather claimed to be the first Greek settler in Australia, arriving in Adelaide in 1840.. He was educated at the University of Queenslandmarker, where he graduated in arts and social work. Before entering politics, Bartlett was a social worker with the Department of Social Security, and worked with alternative radio station, 4ZZZFM, in roles including announcer and finance coordinator. A big modern music fan, he played in a number of local rock bands, as a drummer and keyboard player. On his personal blog, Bartlett has noted that he is a fan of both Joy Division and Nick Cave. Bartlett is active on animal rights issues, and considers himself an atheist.

In 1990, Bartlett joined the staff of Queensland senator Cheryl Kernot. Three years later, he joined the staff of Democrats senator John Woodley as an adviser and researcher. He was the Democrats' Queensland campaign director for the 1993 and 1996 elections and federal campaign director in 1998. Bartlett was appointed in 1997 to the Senate casual vacancy caused by the resignation of Kernot, and was elected for a six-year term at the 2001 federal election.

Service in the Australian Senate

A consistent and vocal campaigner for refugees and asylum seekers, Bartlett is the only Australian parliamentarian to have visited every refugee detention centre in Australia, as well as those on Christmas Islandmarker and Nauru (detention centres off the Australian mainland, see Australia's Pacific Solution) where he went four times to meet with detainees.

Bartlett initiated the Senate Inquiry into Australia's refugee determination system which produced the "Sanctuary Under Review" report in 2000, and has participated in numerous other committee inquiries into immigration matters.

Bartlett has spoken many times on behalf of those living in poverty, as well as the physically and mentally disabled. He also takes a close interest in the environment and animal welfare. In 2003 he introduced a private member's bill to overhaul the animal welfare system in Australia. His petition to end the live sheep export trade has received well over 100,000 signatures.

Bartlett was a strong opponent of Australia's involvement in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He introduced a private member's bill designed to ensure no Prime Minister of Australia could again send the country to war without the consent of both houses of parliament. When the bill was debated in the Senate, speakers from both major parties indicated their opposition to it, although there was no formal vote taken.

Bartlett has also campaigned strongly for gay rights. In 2004, he cried in the Senate chamber over a proposed law to define marriage as between a man and a woman, which he called an "absolute disgrace".

Bartlett co-sponsored the Cluster Munitions Bill 2006, which was introduced into the Senate on 5 December 2006. If enacted, it would prevent Australia from using, manufacturing or possessing cluster munitions.

Leader of the Australian Democrats

After the resignation of then party Senate leader Natasha Stott Despoja on 21 August, 2002, Bartlett was elected to the Democrats Party leadership in October, supplanting pro tem. incumbent Brian Greig.

To a degree, Bartlett stabilised the Democrats' troubled party room and spoke strongly against the Government's maltreatment of refugees and maladministration of the Department of Immigration. He also oversaw the Democrat senators' use of their potential balance of power role to influence increased funding for Medicare, protection of the welfare payments of sole parents, the unemployed and the disabled, and entitlement of some homosexual couples to superannuation entitlements equivalent to those enjoyed by heterosexual couples.

In December, 2003, Bartlett took leave from his Senate leadership after an incident involving Liberal Senator Jeannie Ferris when leaving the Senate chamber after a vote. Bartlett, who had been drinking at a Liberal Party function held just outside the chamber, was accused of stealing five bottles of wine from the function. Some time after Ferris had retrieved the wine, Bartlett approached Ferris, and was alleged to have gripped her arm and verbally abused her, both inside the chamber and along the way to an outside courtyard. Parliamentary video of part of the incident appeared to show that Bartlett was drunk in the chamber, although did not show him grabbing Ferris's arm. Bartlett's subsequent formal apology was accompanied by a bottle of wine, which Ferris described as "quite inappropriate ... as an apology for drunken behaviour involving abuse and a physical attack." By contrast, Liberal Senator Brett Mason, who witnessed the incident, said "Perhaps a little more was made of the incident than should have been made. I think it was overplayed by the media, and by everyone." Labor Senator Claire Moore was reported in The Bulletin magazine as saying Bartlett had been "unfairly demonized."

Bartlett resumed the party's parliamentary leadership in January, 2004, giving an assurance that he would totally abstain from alcohol, which he appears to have maintained. However, the party's support levels remained at the same low level to which it had fallen at the time of Stott Despoja's resignation. He was unable to exercise a favourable influence in the 2004 election in which the Democrats were defending three Senate seats, and all three were lost—one going to the Greens and two to Liberals. The party polled what was at the time the lowest vote since inception in 1977.

2004 Federal election to present

Following the 2004 election, Bartlett did not re-contest the leadership, instead taking on the deputy leadership under Lyn Allison.

Bartlett was defeated at the 2007 election, polling only 1.88% of the primary vote in Queensland. The Democrat vote was even lower in other states, and the party lost all its remaining Senate seats. He left the Senate at the expiration of his term in June 2008. He has since returned as an announcer on Brisbanemarker's 4ZZZFM radio station, and he writes a blog for Crikey.

On 9 November 2009 the leader of the Greens, Bob Brown, announced that Bartlett will contest the lower house seat of Brisbane at the Next Australian federal election.

References

  1. Subject's First Speech
  2. Online consulting on human rights
  3. Schubert, Misha: Democrat pleads for rethink on gay marriage ban, The Age, 14 August 2004.
  4. Nicholson, Brendan; Debelle, Penelope: Disgraced leader steps aside, The Age, 7 December 2003.
  5. Barrowclough, Nikki: One False Move, Sydney Morning Herald, 9 February 2004.
  6. Senator Andrew Bartlett - personal weblog, "Back on the Zeds"
  7. Crikey (2008). Andrew Bartlett. Retrieved 8 January 2009.
  8. Former Democrat senator goes green - Sydney Morning Herald


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