, leader of the Australian Democrats
, is believed to be the first ever Goth
to lead a major political party
in a modern Westminster democracy
He achieved his political success despite the fact that Goths are rare on the ground in Australia (too hot). Yet with a broad constituency and political base Andrew needed to be more mainstream. In fact, he removed his mascara and other trappings of Gothic life, with the only tell-tale signs being a purple and black colour schemed wardrobe, and a trademark sullen look in the Senate. But with that look and his glasses, he looks no different to an owlish patent attorney.
Andrew was also motivated by other causes, including animal liberation, vegetarianism and tenant rights.
Andrew Bartlett was born in Brisbane, Queensland in 1964, and was educated at St Columban's College and the University of Queensland where he majored in sociology, English and social work. As a youth he was a champion rugby player, before becoming a drummer for two local bands. He also worked at a community radio station as an announcer and financial controller.
Andrew was Secretary of the Queensland division of the Australian Democrats from 1990 to 1993. His public life started in 1991 when he was elected to the Brisbane City Council. The following year he got a seat in the state parliament, and in 1996 he finally moved into federal politics, winning a seat in the Senate representing Queensland.
In the late 1990s the Australian Democrats, under the youthful Natasha Scott-Despoja, shifted its ideology from being a strictly centralist, libertarian party (which had voted for a regressive consumption tax under the previous leader Meg Lees), to a centre-left party, devoid of trade union influences, motivated by social justice issues but ultimately not as extreme as the Greens Party. This alienated some of the older baby boomer members of the party who were concerned that under Natasha the democratic foundations of the party were being eroded, such as provisions to allow its politicans to exercise conscience votes. Eventually the party split and Natasha resigned. The party was run by a caretaker leader called Brian Greig, the first openly gay leader of a political party in Australia, before being taken over by the first openly Gothic leader.
His term in office was largely uneventful. His departure wasn't. After the 2001 federal election, where instability cost the Australian Democrats votes, the Australian Greens became the main political voice for left-wing causes in Australia. Hardly anybody paid attention when Andrew discussed maternity leave or Iraq, leaving him even more dark. Eventually, his undoing was his own, when leaving a Christmas party in December 2003 in an intoxicated state, he manhandled a female Liberal Party politician who challenged him for nicking a few of their bottles of wine.
Thus ended the legacy of Australia's first openly Gothic parliamentary leader. You may be able to read more about him at www.andrewbartlett.com, which includes blood-red writing, Nordic runes and details of his Gothic life.