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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Don't you worry about that « Previous | |Next »
August 26, 2003

I'm just catching up with the weekend newspapers. In the Weekend Australian I noticed an old interview with Joh Bjelke Peterson, the former Premier of Queensland, by a Fitzgerald commission investigator around 1988. Bjelke Peterson was an ex-Premier by then.

Bjelke Peterson ruled Queensland with an iron fist in the 1970s and 1980s with a style of heroic leadership who proclaimed that he was doing something good for Queensland. He did so in the name of developmentalism---a develop at all costs mentality that damaged the environment. This era is known for the abuse of power, political chicanery, blindness to institutionalized corruption and an overlooking of the dirty history of the state's police. Queensland became as "The Moonlight State".

I'd always wondered how he understood democracy---The Westminster system of parliamentary democracy. Not in the sense of procedure to elect politicians through majority voting but in the more substantive terms of citizenship. In response to a question about police brutality the Gray Street demonstrations during the Springboks tour Bjelke Peterson says:

"And I could see then that we were running into some very very turbulent times ...I said that's going to be the biggest problem Australia have because that's the tip of the iceberg, there'll be a lot of blood shed on that one for sure. That's further down the road, but I warned them right in he beginning and tried to Stop it. Just as I tried to stop this business of going soft and all these demonstrations and street marches because I could see ahead leading to. complete anarchy. I used to say to these mobs, the characters, I said 'I can't walk up against Queen Street at knock off. time and block the traffic, neither am I going to let you people do it."

There is nothing about civil disobedience, rights, freedom of speech, freedom of information and the citizen's right to know. We have an authoritarian regime that sees things in terms of the rule of law and does not allow for democracy determining what the law will be. Democracy is only tolerable if it remains in strict bounds.

The words 'bloodshed', 'complete anarchy', 'mobs' are all anti-democratic ones. Democracy was seen as a threat despite the undemocratic gerrymander. Couple that with his favourite lines , such as "feeding the chooks" "southern socialists and "you're not going to stop us" and "Don't you worry about that!", then we have democracy in name only.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:04 AM | | Comments (0)