Joh Bjelke Petersen – A Fair Assessment

Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Don’t you worry about that! North Ryde, 1990, Angus and Robertson

Joh Bjelke-Petersen served as Premier of Queensland, Australia, from 1968 to 1987, making him one of the most successful politicians in Australian history.

Having gone to university and high school in South East Queensland (well after his 19 year reign as Premier), I recall the mere mention of his name would still draw howls of disapproval and laughter from lecturers, teachers and students. Criticisms of his deep religious faith would often soufflé alongside charges that he was intensely corrupt and a mostly wicked man.

Over the years, however, I’ve learned to grow suspicious of such knee-jerk assessments of democratically elected leaders. ‘Take the risk of thinking for yourself,’ said the late Christopher Hitchens, ‘much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.’

My 2013-2014 summer reading list was then, most likely, the only one on the planet to feature Joh’s oddly titled memoir Don’t You Worry About That!

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