Anyone who read The Australian

yesterday was left in no doubt that the national broadsheet regards Joh
Bjelke-Petersen as one of the worst premiers Australia ever had. All
the best-informed Joh critics such as Evan Whitton, Phil Dickie, Ross
Fitzgerald and Tony Koch were wheeled out in an impressive and
comprehensive demolition of the hillbilly dictator.

If you’d like to sample it, we highly recommend the following:

Editorial: The man whose career changed politics forever
Obituary: the man who sold Queensland
The proxy vote dodgy Joh never had
Phil Dickie: Iron hand, heavy rule
Counting the cost of a mean-spirited opportunist
A corrupt and vicious regime
Wild card crippled Coalition
John Stone: inside the campaign for Canberra

And today TheOz

followed with this column

by Phillip Adams,

in which he recalls the era of “brown paper bag time” when Adams was
chairman of the Australian Film Commission and Joh ran Queensland.

Treasurer Peter Costello would no doubt have learnt a thing or two
about Joh’s misdeeds over his 18 years in power after reading all of
this, and it’s a fair bet he might regret calling him “the outstanding
premier of the 20th century” on Insiders,

as you can see from the transcript here.

You
would think one of Costello’s Liberal colleagues such as Sir Henry
Bolte, Charles Court, or even Jeff Kennett or Nick Greiner would rate
more highly than a crooked Nat like Joh, especially if The Australian’s

demolition is to be believed.

Cossie
presides over the highest taxing Federal government in history which
still can’t manage to make any sort of impression on unfunded
Commonwealth superannuation liabilities, yet what is it that Costello
told Insiders

he most liked about Joh?

I would say the abolition of death duties changed
Australia. When Queensland abolished death duties, every state was
forced to follow and, as you know, a great deal of southern money came
into Queensland and fuelled the tourist growth and the property boom.

The
other thing that I pay great tribute to him for was they funded their
superannuation. Queensland is the state with the strongest finances and
that is a direct legacy of Sir Joh. So he will be seen, I think, as the
outstanding premier of the 20th Century, somebody who put in place some
decisions which set Queensland up for opportunities over the decades.

Costello has allowed unfunded Commonwealth super to blow out by $15
billion to $90 billion since 1996 and for this reason alone several of
his claimed surpluses have actually been deficits. If Costello
genuinely thinks funding super made Joh the greatest premier of the
last 100 years, why on earth hasn’t he moved to fund federal super?

Costello’s
fawning praise for a dictatorial crook is perplexing. Then again, maybe
he admires the old peanut farmer’s glass jaw and the way he intimidated
the media and critics with an avalanche of defamation writs that saw
him in the medals for all-time Australian defamation profits, sharing
the podium with two other great libel exploiters, Bob Hawke and Kerry
Packer.

Peter Fray

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