June 27, 2004 | Unknown

Happy Anniversary Pete

Yesterday marked the sixth anniversary of the Beattie Government’s ascension to power (gee, it only felt like five years and three hundred and sixty-five days). There would be few people who would argue that Beattie hasn’t be a good leader; his ability to meld populism with socially progressive policies has been quite skilful. Although some claim he has wasted a large majority and could have done more, I suspect most Queenslanders are happy with his leadership. In honour of the occasion here is my, no doubt historically inaccurate, tribute to the man someone has called “the greatest Premier we’ve ever had” (Beattie 2004 – no just joshing, he didn’t say that).
It has been argued that former Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen was the “Father”, or “Pop” for the young ‘uns, of Queensland. Joh’s parenting style was of the “children should be seen and not heard” variety and managed to inspire demonstrations, membership of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and cries of “fascist” from his more rebellious offspring. “Big Daddy” was known to punish ‘delinquency’ with the aid of baton-wielding police, name calling, and investigations by the Special Branch.
“Tell me what Uncle “Shady” wrote about me or I will move to a hippy commune”, perennial first-year University of Queensland Arts student Chris demanded sometime in the early 1970s.
“Now, don’t you worry about that you young pinko commo. Do as you are told before you turn into one of those homosexual weirdo type people from the South”, is my translation of Joh’s reply.
“It’s totally not fair. I hate you!” retorted Chris before being led away by the coercive arm of the state.
In contrast to Bjelke-Petersen’s tyrannical old fart leadership, the Premier since 1998, Peter Beattie, is Queensland’s ‘cool’ baby-boomer parent who acknowledges same-sex partners, promotes the advancement of women in the judiciary, parliament and the public service and gets cheers from ‘greenies’ (sometimes) for his stance on tree clearing.
Indeed, you can tell your smug relatives from New South Wales, who might be members of the Labor Party, that our Premier helped get rid of the Walking with Cavemen extras that used to run the ALP in this state more than twenty years ago.
Once all a woman joining the ALP in Queensland could wish for was a decent teapot and the chance to meet a monosyllabic ‘mate’ in a blue singlet and King Gee shorts. But recently ‘progressive Pete’ sat the boys in a circle and explained to them why they had to let the girls play too.
Today women make up 23 of the 63 Labor parliamentarians and were around 1/3 of the party’s candidates at the 2001 election. The word ”Sheila” is now only used when the Premier is criticising American cultural imperialism and not in caucus, state conference, branch meetings, parliamentary question time or the Party’s women’s policy.
However, before you invite your Sydney chums for a visit you should know that ‘Papa Pete’ sometimes brings out his Queensland made safari suit for special occasions. Before your guests have the chance to ask, “where do you live?” over the hors d’oeuvres they may find themselves being told, “I am not being party political here; I am speaking for all Queenslanders”.
“Queensland is the greatest state in the greatest nation on the earth”, Beattie might declare to no one in particular during a discussion about whether Jesus preferred blokes.
“I was born in Sydney but I had the good judgement to leave”, Beattie will possibly tactlessly add (please note the Premier made this remark after a State of Origin series loss and thus it probably reflected temporary, and understandable, bitterness on his part).
“Bravo for including transgender people in the reforms to Queensland’s anti-discrimination laws”, would be the interruption from the fashionably late Michael from Manly.
“Queensland (is) the most desirable place to visit in the world, Michael”.
Fortunately, when the Premier teams his safari suit with Armani accessories he creates a singularly appealing ensemble that would clash like checks and tartan on most political leaders. Most of us are only interested in specific items of attire anyway and are quite content if he just achieves some sartorial balance.
It is unlikely any get-up would please the sort of constituent who thinks “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” is the height of poetry or who prefers ideological purity and political impotence but his individual leadership style is still in vogue with most voters. Of course, only time will tell how long Peter Beattie will remain on the political What’s In list.
“Shady” was a dodgy police officer turned crooked politician and should not be confused with the rap artist who shares almost the same nickname and about the same amount of talent.

Posted by Unknown at 2:00 pm | Comments Off on Happy Anniversary Pete |
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