03 May 2005

Goodbye to Joh Bjelke-Petersen

Former Queensland Premier, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, died on 23 April at the age of 94. He was Premier for 19 years, from 1968 to 1987, including the time I lived in Townsville, North Queensland (1974 to 1977). In the early and mid 1970's he was (in)famous for not tolerating dissent; many protesters -- of many issues -- were arrested during his time in office. I wasn't one of them, but I easily could have been, given my involvement in feminist and environmentalist issues at the time. Joh did a lot for modernising the state and making it a place attractive to investors and business, but much of that involved selling off prime bits of coastline, approving development in environmentally sensitive areas, and other things many of us found distressing. And, no surprise, eventually he and many members of his cabinet were found to have been taking kickbacks. (Not that this makes him all that unusual.) His funeral was today. I was delighted to read that protestors had turned out for the occasion.