Andrew Bartlett

Andrew John Julian Bartlett (born 4 August 1964) is an Australian politician, academic, and social campaigner who served as a Senator for Queensland from 1997 to 2008 and from 2017 to 2018. He represented the Australian Democrats in his first stint in the Senate, including as party leader from 2002 to 2004 and deputy leader from 2004 to 2008. In November 2017, he returned to the Senate as a member of the Australian Greens, replacing Larissa Waters after her disqualification during the parliamentary eligibility crisis. He resigned in August 2018 to allow Waters to return.

Andrew Bartlett
Andrew Bartlett Greens 2019.jpg
Senator for Queensland
In office
10 November 2017 – 27 August 2018
Preceded byLarissa Waters
Succeeded byLarissa Waters
In office
30 October 1997 – 30 June 2008
Preceded byCheryl Kernot
Leader of the Australian Democrats
In office
5 October 2002 – 3 November 2004
DeputyLyn Allison
Preceded byBrian Greig
Succeeded byLyn Allison
Deputy Leader of the Australian Democrats
In office
3 November 2004 – 30 June 2008
LeaderLyn Allison
Preceded byLyn Allison
Succeeded bynone
Personal details
Andrew John Julian Bartlett

(1964-08-04) 4 August 1964 (age 56)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Political partyGreens (since 2009)
Democrats (to 2009)
EducationSt Columban's College, Caboolture
Alma materUniversity of Queensland
OccupationSocial worker
(Department of Social Security)
ProfessionPublic servant

Early life and backgroundEdit

Bartlett was born in Brisbane, where he has lived all his life. He is of Irish, Swiss, English and Greek origins – his great-great-grandfather, who is claimed to be the first Greek settler in Australia, arrived in Adelaide in 1840.[1]

He was educated at the University of Queensland in the 1980s, 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, 4ZZZ FM, in roles including announcer and finance coordinator. He played in a number of local rock bands around this time, as a drummer and keyboard player. The bands were I Am Vertical, The Cutters and Too Green For Summer (who years later had a song appear on the Rock Against Howard CD).[citation needed]

Political careerEdit

Entry into politicsEdit

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.

A campaigner for refugees and asylum seekers, Bartlett was at one time the only Australian parliamentarian to have visited every refugee detention centre in Australia, as well as those on Christmas Island 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 received well over 100,000 signatures.

Bartlett was an 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 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".[2]

Bartlett co-sponsored the Cluster Munitions (Prohibition) 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 DemocratsEdit

Bartlett speaking as Deputy Leader of the Democrats in 2007

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 the temporary leader 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.[citation needed]

In December 2003, Bartlett resigned his Senate leadership. Accused by Liberal Senator Jeannie Ferris of physical and verbally abusing her when she confronted him upon leaving the Senate chamber after a vote, Bartlett gave her an unreserved apology. He admitted to abusing and manhandling the Senator. 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.[3] 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. 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."[4] 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."[5] 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. However, the party's support levels remained at the same low level to which they had fallen at the time of Stott Despoja's resignation. He was unable to increase the party's support leading up to the 2004 election in which the Democrats were defending three Senate seats. All three seats were lost—one going to the Greens and two to Liberals. The party polled what was at the time the lowest vote since their inception in 1977.

Departure from the Democrats and Greens candidacyEdit

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.

Bartlett addressing the 2014 March in May rally in Brisbane.
Video: Patrick Gillett

In November 2009, Greens leader Bob Brown announced that Bartlett would contest the lower house seat of Brisbane at the 2010 federal election as a candidate for the Australian Greens.[6] Bartlett came third in the seat in the 2010 election, gaining 21.3% of the vote with a swing to the Greens of just over 10%.[7]

In May 2012, Bartlett ran for the Lord Mayoralty of Brisbane for the Greens, receiving 10.7% of the primary vote, a 2.3% increase on the previous election.[8]

In 2015, years after the Democrats' parliamentary oblivion, the party was deregistered by the Australian Electoral Commission. Speaking as a former Democrats leader, Bartlett reflected that the party's support of the Howard Government's introduction of the GST was "politically catastrophic", but the "last straw" for the party was the demise of Stott Despoja as leader in 2002:[9]

Even though the Democrats eventually disappeared from parliament in 2008, basically our political support crashed and burned in 2002.

— Andrew Bartlett, 2015

Bartlett was again endorsed by the Greens as a Senate candidate for Queensland at the 2016 federal election.[10] While he did not meet the quota for election, his colleague Senator Larissa Waters resigned her position on 18 July 2017 after discovering she held dual Australian and Canadian citizenship. She was ruled ineligible on 27 October 2017.[11] As the second person on the 2016 Australian Greens Senate ticket, he replaced her after a recount. After his election was announced on 10 November, Bartlett was sworn in as a Senator for Queensland on 12 November 2017.[12] Despite stirrings of a pre-selection showdown between himself and Waters for the next Senate election, Bartlett announced on 9 February 2018 that he would not seek to remain in the Senate, opting to seek pre-selection for the Queensland seat of Brisbane in the House of Representatives instead.[13] On 16 June 2018, Bartlett announced that he would resign from the Senate at the end of August, to be replaced by Waters.[14] The resignation was formally submitted to the Senate President Scott Ryan on 27 August 2018.[15]

As announced, Bartlett contested the Division of Brisbane in the House of Representatives at the 2019 federal election receiving 22% of first preferences. Despite not winning the seat, he brought the Greens vote to its highest ever percentage in the Brisbane electorate, falling short of entering the two-party preferred vote behind Labor in second place, at 24.49%.

Bartlett contested the Electoral district of Clayfield in the Legislative Assembly of Queensland at the 2020 Queensland state election and received 17.61% of the vote.

Personal lifeEdit

Bartlett is active on animal rights and human rights issues.[16] After departing parliament, Bartlett took up a position as a part-time Research Fellow with the Migration Law Program at the Australian National University.[17]

Bartlett has since returned to being an announcer at 4ZZZ,[18][19] and was also Chair of the Board of Directors of 4ZZZ from 2014 until 2017. He occasionally writes pieces for websites such as Crikey,[20] New Matilda, The Drum and Online Opinion. During Mental Health Week 2013, Bartlett wrote an article for the Courier-Mail about his being hospitalised for depression in 2012.[21]

He has one daughter, Lillith.[3]


  1. ^ Bartlett, Andrew (11 November 1997). "First Speech". Hansard. Australian Parliament. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  2. ^ Schubert, Misha (14 August 2004). "Democrat pleads for rethink on gay marriage ban". The Age.
  3. ^ a b Seccombe, Mike (8 December 2003). "Bartlett faces pressure to quit as leader". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  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. ^ Gray, Steve (9 November 2009). "Former Democrat senator goes green". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  7. ^ "QLD DIVISION – BRISBANE". Election 2010 Virtual Tally Room: The Official Election Results. Australian Electoral Commission. 2010. Retrieved 27 August 2010.
  8. ^ "Brisbane City: Mayor results: Summary". Electoral Commission of Queensland. 2012. Archived from the original on 22 May 2012.
  9. ^ "Australian Democrats lose party status". Courier-Mail. Brisbane. Australian Associated Press. 17 April 2015. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  10. ^ Atfield, Cameron (6 May 2016). "Greens senator for north Queensland? Andrew Bartlett promises move north". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  11. ^ "Barnaby Joyce disqualified by High Court". ABC News. 27 October 2017. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  12. ^ "Ryan elected as Senate President". Sky News Australia. 12 November 2017. Queenslanders Andrew Bartlett from the Greens and Fraser Anning from One Nation also joined the Senate's ranks. The trio replace Scott Ludlam, Larissa Waters and Malcolm Roberts, who were disqualified by the High Court on the basis of their dual citizenship.
  13. ^ "Andrew Bartlett won't re-contest Senate". SBS News. 9 February 2018. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  14. ^ Gribbin, Caitlyn (16 June 2018). "Andrew Bartlett to quit as Greens senator to make way for Larissa Waters' return". ABC News. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  15. ^ Scott Ryan (27 August 2018). "I have received a letter of resignation from Senator Andrew Bartlett as a senator for Queensland. The resignation takes effect immediately". Twitter. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  16. ^ Online consulting on human rights
  17. ^ "Our people: Andrew Bartlett". ANU College of Law. Australian National University. 4 June 2016. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  18. ^ "A Burst of Brisbane". 4ZZZ. 2018.
  19. ^ "Back on the Zeds". Bartlett's Blog. 3 July 2008. Archived from the original on 17 September 2010. Retrieved 27 August 2010.
  20. ^ "Andrew Bartlett". Crikey. 2008. Archived from the original on 22 December 2008. Retrieved 8 January 2009.
  21. ^ Bartlett, Andrew (11 October 2013). "OPINION: Mental health awareness has improved but stigma lingers". Courier-Mail. Brisbane. Retrieved 3 June 2016.

External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by
Brian Greig
Leader of the Australian Democrats
Succeeded by
Lyn Allison