Andrew Bartlett served in the Australian parliament from 1997 – 2008 as a Senator for Queensland from the Australian Democrats party. In 2004, while he was Leader of the Democrats, he became the first federal politician in Australia to start a genuine blog. Since leaving the Parliament, he has been working at a range of activities in the fields of immigration, human rights and animal rights. He continues to blog, both at his own site (www.andrewbartlett.com) and at independent web-based media outlet Crikey.com.au (http://blogs.crikey.com.au/bartlett/).
What made you decide to start blogging?
To see whether it could be a useful means of communicating and conversing with the general public, and to shine some light on some of the day to day realities of politics and on particular issues.
What is your best blogging experience?
I found blogging regularly about my evolving views on the stem cell issue during the months leading up to a parliamentary debate and vote on the topic both interesting and helpful.
And your worst?
Having to deal with commenters who abuse others
What do you regard as your best blog entry?
I quite like some of the ones which put a human face on refugee and Indigenous issues. This one http://andrewbartlett.com/?p=100 from 2006 which tells a bit of a personal story about an Afghan refugee who was separated from his wife and young child as a direct result of Australian government policy is one I’m quite fond of, as it dwells less on political and policy arguments and more on the human impact of those policies.
Some of the economic, environment and law policy blogs such as John Quiggin http://johnquiggin.com/ and Club Troppo http://clubtroppo.com.au/ , and general political / policy blogs such as Larvatus Prodeo http://larvatusprodeo.net/ .
What made you go into politics?
I’ve always been interested in exploring avenues for change. Politics is one such avenue and I got involved to explore whether it is or could be an effective one.
How would you define the Australian blogosphere?
It is diverse and always evolving. There is still fairly limited engagement with the blogosphere by politicians, but there is a developing, high quality range of political / policy sites. Some specialist blogs covering economics, law, education, rights and general politics and policy have valuable content – including from comment threads as well as blog authors.
Can you see yourself running for the Queensland Senate again?
At present I’m exploring the chance to do things outside of party politics, so it wouldn’t really suit what I want to do at the moment and the idea of doing so doesn’t fill me with enthusiasm. But it’s possible that may change down the track. As the Australian Democrat party is now effectively defunct, I’d have to do so either with a new party or as an independent.
Is there anywhere abroad which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?
Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?
I would like to revisit Stockholm, the island of Hawaii (the big one with the volcano), Christmas Island (which is a territory of Australia, but so far offshore it fits the category of ‘abroad)
Do you have a favourite political figure in history?
Ghandi is the standout political figure of the 20th Century for me, although he never ran for elected office. Beyond him, I admire those political figures who persevere in the face of severe political oppression and/or persecution – people such as Aung San Suu Kyi and the many who put their lives in real danger by standing up for basic human rights against seriously oppressive regimes.
Which figure has been your greatest inspiration?
I don’t really have a standout person – I’m not one for idols or heroes. My daughter gives me more reason to live than anyone else, which is pretty good inspiration when I think of it.
Favourite Bond movie?
I’ve ended up seeing a few over the years, but I’d have say I’m not really into Bond. Maybe Moonraker – more because of Jaws than anything else.
Favourite Doctor Who?
I’m quite fond of Peter Davison’s Doctor, but I can’t really go past Tom Baker.
Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?
Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?
In terms of visiting for the weekend, Adelaide, Melbourne, or Canberra?
Favourite national newspaper?
Not a lot to choose from. The Australian Financial Review, somewhat by default.
What would you say your hobbies were?
Music, writing, reading, (mostly watching) sports
And what would you say were your three favourite songs and your three favourite books (Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?
Three is far too small a number to list favourite songs. It would chance from one day to the next. For today, I’ll go withThe Mercy Seat by Nick Cave, Debaser by the Pixies and Eternally Yours by the Laughing Clowns.
For favourite books, I’ll go with The Fall by Albert Camus, Catch 22 by Joseph Heller and The Trial by Franz Kafka.