The Null Device

The hillbilly dictator

John Birmingham's eulogy for Joh Bjelke-Petersen, former despot of Queensland:
As long as there is a spark of life in Australian democracy, the mid 1980s, when Bjelke-Petersen ruled alone, at the very zenith of his powers, should be studied in civics courses as an object lesson in what happens when untrammelled power is gathered into the shaky, liver-spotted hands of a stuttering, proto-fascist brute with just enough rat-bastard cunning to mask his true nature behind a carefully constructed facade of endearing bumpkinry.
Should his legacy be the flight of thousands of Queenslanders to safer, less contested lives in those states where politics did not threaten to become an intimately personal matter, something that could, in the worst case, reach out and touch you, shrivelling your options to fight or flight? And, really, only to the latter.
His state funeral should be an appropriate ceremony. Perhaps a pack of dingoes could be starved for a week before being sooled upon his corpse in the mudflats down by the Brisbane River. Or he could be buried at sea with the worst of his cabinet ministers, all of them dipped in chum and fed to the hammerheads and reef sharks off the Great Barrier Reef which they were so keen to open up to mining.

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