April 29, 2005 | Graham

Life before politics

In an earlier post I drew attention to the fact that all the commentary about Joh Bjelke-Petersen, favourable and unfavourable, concentrated on his contribution to politics, and not on his pre-political career in farming.
Off the top of my head I knew about his contribution to brigalow scrub clearing, but this morning Radio National’s Breakfast programme further redressed the deficit in an interview with Greg Borschmann, one of the show’s producers taking a turn on the other end of an interview.
In 2001 Borschmann recorded a series of conversations with Petersen for the National Archives, and the interview is well worth a listen for an insight into Petersen’s character and interesting errata for your next trivia night. For example I knew Joh had health problems because of childhood polio, but I didn’t realise he suffered lung damage from peanut dust caused by one of his first business successes – threshing peanuts.

Posted by Graham at 10:24 am | Comments (1) |
Filed under: Australian Politics

1 Comment

  1. This is an interesting point. The interview with Joh in the Magazine of today’s Weekend Australian (I think done by the guy you mention) was interesting from a historical point of view.
    I’ve been fairly scathing of Joh’s legacy as Premier and expect I will stay that way. I also think the environmental damage as a result of his innovations in farming is huge.
    However, the interview is very interesting as piece of oral and social history. There is very little about politics in it, and you certainly get an insight into what a very different world it was in the 1930s and 40s. Very harsh and VERY hard work, which most people would find very hard to cope with now (and many probably did then)
    The interview even has Joh briefly recognising that the methods used to clear land were fairly damaging and he would do it differently now. Despite my antagonism towards him, I don’t think one can be too harsh on his environmental practices at that time, given the mindsets nad views that were common.

    Comment by Andrew Bartlett — April 30, 2005 @ 8:24 pm

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