A Senator for Queensland since 1997, and currently
Deputy Leader and Party Whip of the Australian Democrats, Senator
Andrew Bartlett was born August 1964 in Brisbane Queensland where
he has lived all his life. He is married with one daughter.
Senator Bartlett has a strong record on human rights and social
justice issues, animal rights and the environment.
A consistent and vocal campaigner for refugees and asylum seekers,
he is the only Australian parliamentarian to have visited every
refugee detention centre in Australia as well as those on Christmas
Island and Nauru, where he went twice to meet with detainees.
He has also been by far the most active in the Senate on refugee
and immigration issues, initiating the Senate Inquiry into Australia'
refugee determination system which produced the "Sanctuary
Under Review" report in 2000, participating in numerous
other Committee Inquiries and being the most consistent and
vocal opponent of the many law changes which have continued to reduce
the rights of refugees and migrants. His ongoing leadership
role in this area was recognised in 2004 with an award from one
of Australia’s peak Human Rights organisations, A Just Australia.
A strong voice in the senate for the poor and disadvantaged Senator
Bartlett has spoken many times on behalf of those living in poverty,
and the disabled. He has helped ensure the success of amendments
which protected the entitlements of sole parents and dramatically
reduced the numbers of unemployed people having their payments cut-off
for failing activity tests. He also has a strong background
in housing, serving on the Tenants Union of Queensland Executive
for ten years.
Senator Bartlett was instrumental in enabling legislation establishing
the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, to pass the Australian Parliament
ensuring historic sites, including Cockatoo Island, remain protected
and accessible to the people in the future. He has been a strong
voice for the protection of the fragile Daintree Rainforests and
in 2003 highlighted the risks to the Great Barrier Reef by producing
evidence and documents which pointed to the oil industry and Geosciences
Australia (GA) engaging in systematic deception of the Australian
people while they moved inexorably towards an offshore oil industry
that would directly threaten the GBRMP.
A former State President (Queensland) of Animal Liberation, Senator
Bartlett has a long standing commitment to Animal Welfare issues
and continues to actively work in this area both within the parliament
and out in the broader community. In 2003 Senator Bartlett introduced
a private members bill to overhaul the animal welfare system in
Australia. His petition to end the live export trade has received
over 100,000 signatures.
In 2003 together with his senate colleague, Senator Stott Despoja,
Andrew introduced the Defence Amendment (Parliamentary Approval
for Australian Involvement in Overseas Conflict) Bill (2003) to
the senate, legislation designed to ensure no Prime Minister of
Australia can ever again send the country to war without the consent
of both houses of parliament.
Before moving to politics, Andrew worked as a social worker with
the Department of Social Security and spent many years working with
community radio station 4ZZZFM in roles including announcer and
finance coordinator. He achieved his tertiary qualifications in
social work at the University of Queensland, where he also completed
a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English and Sociology.
In 1990 Andrew joined the staff of then Party Leader Cheryl Kernot
following her election to the Senate in July that year. Three years
later he joined the staff of Democrats' Senator John Woodley as
an adviser and researcher after Senator Woodley's election in 1993.
He was the Democrats' Queensland Campaign Director
for the 1993 and 1996 elections and Federal Campaing Director in
1998 – all succesfull campaigns for the Party.
Andrew was appointed to the Senate in 1997 to fill a casual vacancy
caused by the resignation of then Leader Cheryl Kernot. He went
on to win the seat in his own right at the 2001 Federal election.
After the resignation of then Party Leader Senator Natasha Stott
Despoja in 2002 Andrew was elected to the Democrats Party Leadership
in October that year.
In December 2003 he stood aside as leader for one month after an
incident involving Liberal Senator Jeannie Ferris in the Senate
chamber. The media frenzy following this was particularly vicious,
with many people voicing opinions on this incident and
on the man – some more far fetched than others. However
Senator Bartlett himself chose not to comment on the various
allegations surrounding the incident or any of the other stories
which circulated in the press and behind the scenes , simply
repeating his original apology for causing offence and stating
he would demonstrate his commitment to staying focussed on the important
issues that affect the community by making a public commitment
to abstain from consuming alcohol whilst he remained in the
Parliament. Senator Bartlett resumed the Leadership in
January 2004 after receiving strong support form the Party membership
as well as the majority of the Democrat Senators.
At the November 2004 election there was a swing to conservative
parties and a substantial drop in the Democrat vote. Three sitting
Democrat senators - John Cherry, Aden Ridgeway and Brian Greig were
not returned, leaving four Democrat senators in the Parliament from
After the election Bartlett did not comments on questions about
whether or not he would resign, stating that the
party's membership would decide the leadership, which is the
party's standard practice. He subsequently decided not
to nominate for the leadership, allowing Senator Lyn Allison
to be elected unopposed. Senator Bartlett was elected Deputy Leader
Many thanks to Yulia Onsman for writing this
page for us.
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