August 21, 2019
To a remarkable degree, the decline of old style politics coincided with the demise of traditional rugby league
How the Brisbane Broncos rose out of the political mess that was 1980s Queensland | Joe Gorman
By the end of July 1987, cracks were beginning to show in the premiership of Joh Bjelke-Petersen. For six months he had embarked on the infamous “Joh for PM” campaign, succeeding only in splitting the Liberal–National Party coalition vote at the federal election. The bluster and hubris that had once made him a folk hero of the political right had finally caught up with him, and for the conservative movement he was now a kind of King Midas in reverse: everything he touched turned to shit. As Labor was elected to a third successive term in office, the federal leader of the Liberal Party, John Howard, declared that Bjelke-Petersen “must carry an enormous share of the blame”.
Within weeks of the humiliating result, in which Labor actually gained four seats in Queensland, a probe into police misconduct began. Prompted by an investigation by the ABC’s 4 Corners program, as well as months of reporting by the Courier-Mail, the Fitzgerald Inquiry raked through a vast web of official corruption – an open secret known in Queensland as “the Joke”. According to Matthew Condon, author of a true-crime trilogy of books about corruption during the Bjelke-Petersen era, “the Joke” was an “elaborate, multi- million dollar scheme of kickbacks from illegal gambling, SP bookmakers, brothels and escort services”.
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