The late great Premier of Queensland, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen is regarded as a hero and an anti-hero, depending upon what side of the political fence you sit. For myself, I always sat in the Joh camp and he and Lady Flo were the reason I left my beloved New Zealand to reside in Queensland. Across the ditch, away from my homeland.
Sir Joh was a Kiwi. He and his wife ruled this State with what I call a benevolent dictatorship. Now, I have always believed that the best form of government is a benevolent dictatorship. When the person in charge is only interested in what is best for the citizens, the people, then all is good. Government by the masses is doomed to failure. Too many cooks in the kitchen will always spoil the broth and we end up with something quite inedible, quite unpalatable and not catering to anyone’s taste. At least a benevolent dictatorship satisfies 50% of the people – none of this mumbo jumbo whereby Winston Peters holds all the aces with 7% of the vote.
When I first left my home in the late ’70s, it was for no other reason than because I had to. Pure and simple. My ex-husband had been involved in the prosecution of a bikie gang who gang-raped a young lass. She was a naive and fragile girl who fell prey to a very very unpleasant group of men. I will not say more. She does not deserve to be reminded of the horror that befell her. Suffice to say, we had two wee daughters who ended up having to travel to kindy in a police car because the hate threats were so vile. My little girls were being threatened so we had no choice but to leave. Get a fast stage out of Dodge. Adios Amigos.
On advice, we moved to Queensland. Ruled by Joh Bjelke-Petersen. A man who allowed no pornography in his state. No gambling. The only ‘gambling’ that was carried out was a state lottery, and the beneficiary was the state hospitals.
There were no protests, street marches or demonstrations. I recollect, shortly after moving here, a strike by power workers. Joh held firm and they collapsed. Then, sometime later, his wife, the then-Senator Flo, went down a mine to break a lockdown. She took a thermos flask of tea and a batch of her famous freshly baked pumpkin scones and negotiated the end to the lockdown. Her persuasive words were simply good old fashioned commonsense.
Since Sir Joh was overthrown by Mike Ahern (the day I closed my curtains and declared to my family it was a day of mourning) Queensland has seen pornography, gambling and protests increase.
Mining is now a bad word; transgender is good; abortion is good and coal is bad. Our public hospitals are overloaded and underfunded. Under Joh, Queensland had money in the bank. Now, it is in debt so badly I doubt that it will ever recover.
There are those who will say that Sir Joh was in charge of a corrupt government. I say that Sir Joh was a naive man, a good man who put his faith in people who betrayed him. He was a Christian, a statesman and a man who loved his new home so much that, in order to protect it, he made strong rules.
I would also say that Sir Joh was the kind of leader who lost because of something that we are only now starting to realise: that a good person with a good heart will ultimately lose to the many people with greedy hearts and self-gratification as their goal. Benevolent dictator Lee Kwan Yu in Singapore said, “Citizenship is essentially a question of loyalty. A man is a citizen of a state and has the right to determine the future of the state because he is part of an entity.”
He further said
‘Although our house is small, in our house, how we arrange the tables and the chairs and the beds is our own affair. Not our friends’ or our neighbours’ affairs. No one has the right to say that the bed should be moved over there, the chair should be moved over here. This is our house. Although it is small, it is our property.
And Sir Joh once famously said – in relation to what we now call MSM on news conferences: “I call it feeding the chooks.”
The tragedy is that the chooks are now feeding us.