Our best ever export to Australia is dead

Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen was often jokingly referred to as New Zealand’s best ever export to Australia. He died over the weekend, aged 94.

He won an amazing seven Queensland elections in a row, admittedly with some help from a gerrymander where there were more rural seats per capita. But that was not the sole reason. In 1974 the coalition won 69 seats compared to 11 for Labor. It is also worth noting that the rural gerrymander used to exist is basically all states as a deliberate step to protect rural populations. To a degree the existing Senate arrangements where all States have the same number of Senators regardless of population can also be seen as a gerrymander.

But great corruption happened under his reign, which is one of the reasons why it is good to change Governments relatively often.

Bjelke-Petersen hated the media (and the feeling was pretty mutual). But that could make for entertaining TV. I will never forget the time when a young female reporter asked him, as he was standing for PM, what his foreign policy was. His reply was “Now, now girlie, don’t you try any of those trick questions on me”. The hilarious part is he was probably being serious.

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