In April 2012, barely a week after Queensland had elected a conservative government to office for the first time in twenty-six years, Campbell Newman announced the abolition of the state-funded premier’s literary awards. The decision, despite disingenuous claims to the contrary, was entirely symbolic, coming as it did before Newman’s Liberal National Party had been officially sworn in or had articulated anything approaching a comprehensive fiscal policy. It was an early portent of a regression to a time when philistinism was celebrated and executive power ran uncurtailed. Soon the premier was using his maiden parliamentary speech to pay tribute to his conservative predecessor Joh Bjelke-Petersen, who narrowly avoided a criminal conviction on the back of one of the most infamously tainted juries in Australian legal history. More recently, amid a host of controversies over ministerial nepotism and shady deals, the government has undertaken a sustained attack upon the Crime and Misconduct Commission, the very organisation formed in response to the rampant treachery of the Bjelke-Petersen era. It may be the self-professed smart state, but former Police Commissioner Ray Whitrod put it best in his memoir: ‘Queenslanders are not like other Australians.’
Plus ça change
Laying bare the truth of a state
Three Crooked Kings
by Matthew Condon
University of Queensland Press, $29.95 pb, 346 pp, 9780702238918
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Dean Biron has a PhD from the University of New England and was co-winner of the 2011 Australian Book Review Calibre Prize. He is currently a sessional academic in the School of Justice at Queensland University of Technology.
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