My parents owned a newsagent in north Queensland for a time when I was a teenager. They hated Joh and all he stood for. One week the Sunday newspapers arrived – hundreds of them – all with a “Joh For Canberra” sticker in them. I remember my mother keeping the shop shut, with customers waiting outside, while she removed every sticker from every paper and binned them before putting the papers out the front for sale.

The regulations we worked under were used in an interesting way then. One month we got a letter telling us the coming edition of either Playboy or Penthouse (can’t remember which) was banned as it was too offensive and all had to be returned or pulped with threats about fines underscored.

When the magazines arrived they seemed no more offensive than usual and all the black squares over the naughty bits were there as was the normal case for the Queensland run of the publication. My folks were puzzled until they found a large feature on the Lwasaki land deals and how much of Queensland was being sold off and how much Joh was in the frame. They stood the letter on the counter, the magazines next to it and had a display copy open at the feature. It sold out that day.

CRIKEY: And this is the bloke that Peter Costello reckons was the best Australian premier of the 20th century. Like hell.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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