Saturday, October 24, 2009

Anna Bligh

I think Anna Bligh is the Premier of Queensland.

I might be wrong though.

Let me go check.

I'm right!

I'm so proud of myself. I'm going to give myself a gold star for today.

Anna Bligh has been the Premier of Queensland since 13 September 2007.

Let's rewind ourselves back to her earlier years.

Baby Anna was born on 14 July 1960. Two days after her seventh birthday, my husband was born in South Korea.

I'm not sure where little Anna was born. Lord Wiki says she grew up on the Gold Coast.

Oh wait. Here's her birthplace. It's written in a little box off to the side. Warwick Queensland. That's about two hours south-west of Brisbane, and two hours west of The Gold Coast.

My new favorite toy is Street View on Google Maps. I'm addicted to it. It's like a really cheap way to travel. Right now I'm looking at Dragon Street in Warwick. This is so fun.

I'm not sure when Bligh moved to the Gold Coast. Lord Wiki doesn't say.

Her parents separated when she was thirteen. That was probably tough on her.

Blighwent to Catholic schools. Lord Wiki said she considered being a nun. She had an aunt that became a nun. I guess that inspired her.

But guess what. The Catholic Church does not look fondly upon divorced people. Bligh and her divorced mother were estranged from the church. The nun plans flew out the window.

Bligh went to the University of Queensland for a Bachelor of Arts Degree.

Bligh believes her introduction to politics occurred when she witnessed a protest during her first year at University. The first protest she participated in herself was against the vice-chancellor of the university. He was doing some type of administrative reconstructing. I guess Bligh didn't agree with what he had planned.

Bligh then got herself involved with the pro-choice movement. It seems she had really distanced herself from the Catholic Church. I'm guessing also that she's a Labor Premier, and not Liberal. I'm sure there are so pro-choice Liberal people, but I think that usually goes with Labor. Right?

Bligh became vice-president of the student union. There's some confusing stuff here. I'm struggling to understand. I think basically what Lord Wiki is saying is that people she worked with in the student union later appeared in her government life.

It seems Bligh was trying to oust the leaders in the student union. I may not be getting this right. It was Bligh against David Barbagallo. Paul Lucas was on Barbagallo's team. Lucas later became Bligh's deputy Premier. Bligh had Rod Welford and Anne Warner on her team. They both became politician people too.

Before officially joining the government, Bligh did all kinds of work with various organizations.

In 1987 she became secretary of the Labor Party in Fairfield. There's a Fairfield near Brisbane. I guess that's what Lord Wiki is talking about. Okay. Yeah. He says it's a suburb in Brisbane.

In 1995, Bligh was elected to Parliament via the seat of South Brisbane. I'm guessing this was the Queensland Parliament, or was it Federal?

I'm pretty sure it was local. That's what I'm going to assume.

In 1998, she was promoted to a Ministerial position. She became Minister for Families, Youth and Community Care and Disability Services.

In 2001, she became the first female Education Minister. Well, at least in Queensland. There may have been other female Education Ministers elsewhere.

In 2004, she added the Arts Ministry to her workload.

In 2005, the Queensland Deputy Premier and Treasurer retired. This caused a whole cabinet reshuffle. Bligh got promoted to Deputy Premier. She also became Minister for Finance, State Development, Trade and Innovation. Wow. She was moving up in the world.

By 2006, she became Treasurer as well.

The Premier before Bligh was a guy named Peter Beattie. He was Labor too. I'm really surprised that both Bligh and Beattie are Labor people. I thought Queensland was very equivalent to one of my country's red states. Oh well. I guess I'm wrong sometimes.

Are there any states in Australia with a Liberal Premier? I know Mike Rann in South Australia is Labor. Rees is Labor. What about Tasmania? Let me check....

David Bartlett. He's Labor.

Western Australia?

Ah! There's our Liberal. I'm so surprised. I would picture Western Australia as having the Labor Premier, and Queensland as having the Liberal one.

This has all boggled my mind.

The Northern Territory doesn't have a Premier, does it?

No. Lord Wiki say what they have is chief minister. Right now, the guy with that job is Labor.

Oh, and I forgot Brumby in Victoria. He's Labor, right? Yeah. Lord Wiki says I'm correct. I was pretty sure about that, but I just wanted to confirm it. Sad that I wrote a whole post on the guy, right?

Anyway, back to Beattie. He announced his retirement, and endorsed Bligh as his replacement.

Here's something interesting. There have been other female premiers in Australia. But Bligh is unique because she's the first who was elected. The other two were put in office without an election. They were quick replacements for men who had resigned. Once elections were done, they were replaced by men.

Lord Wiki wants to me to know though that there have been elected female heads of government....just not Premiers. There have been elected Chief Ministers of the ACT and Northern Territory.

Oh, I forgot to check who heads the ACT now. It's Jon Stanhope. He's Labor. So Western Australia has the only Liberal leader.

All right. Lord Wiki has some personal stuff.

Bligh is going to be a contestant on Celebrity Masterchef Australia. I watched one little bit from the show. I thought the judges were so bitchy. They had such an attitude about this one chef's meal. They gave her major grief. Then they ate it, and were pleased. Wouldn't it be better to start out with a positive attitude? If the food is awful, THEN bring out the bitchiness.

Tim would probably say I'm like the judges though. I admit I do have a negative attitude sometimes when I'm not sure about something. He always brings up the time he bought me high speed internet as a gift. I don't really remember. But I guess I bitched about it. We don't need this!
And now. Yes, Tim. I'm grateful for it. You win. Okay? Happy now?

Bligh is married. Her husband is a public servant. They have two sons.

Oh! This is cool. Some genealogy experts figured out that Bligh is the great-great-great granddaughter of William Bligh. He was the fourth governor of New South Wales, and also one of the main characters in The Bounty story. That was the ship that was overthrown. Bligh was the captain. I should add William Bligh to my list. He might already be on there. I do get double names sometimes. One of my fears is that one day I'm going to end up writing about someone I've already written about. I'll spend hours on the post, and then think....wait. This all sounds very familiar.

Well, I'm done with Lord Wiki. Where should we go next?

Well, here's Bligh's official government page.

Wait. Tim has a flight at 12:30. It's almost 10:00, and he hasn't left the house yet. Maybe I should go check to make sure he's awake. Or maybe he meant he has to leave the house at 12:30?

Okay. I'm back. Tim was awake and ready to go. That's a relief.

Back to Bligh.

Her government page has a little bio.

She didn't become the first elected Premier until March 2009. In February 2007, she had been like those other past premiers...simply replacing a male retired Premier.

She went to Miami State High School. Was that named after Miami Florida? I wonder where the name Miami originated from. There's also a Miami school in Ohio.

Bligh did her last six months of school at Nowra State High School. That's in New South Wales. Ah. So, she didn't spend all her life in Queensland. Nowra is about thirty minutes south of Kiama. I'm playing on Google Map Street View again. Nowra has a Berry Street. We have a Berry Street in Fort Worth. We drive on it to get to the zoo.

Bligh has a journal. Maybe I'll read some of that.

She says there's a new bridge. It's called Kurilpa Bridge. Lord Wiki says it's in Brisbane. It's for walkers and cyclists. That's cool. Bligh says the bridge will change colors for special days. It will be pink for breast cancer month. That's going on now, right? Or does America and Australia have different breast cancer months?

On 10 December, there's going to be a big party celebrating the 150th birthday of Queensland. The celebration will be held at the Botanic Gardens.

Bligh has an entry on school testing. She wants scores to improve. Oh. I'm so sick of politicians and their obsession with school test scores. Was there so much emphasis on testing when they were in schools?

Bligh assures people that taxpayers won't have to pay anything for her appearance on MasterChef. In fact, she gets a small payment for being on the show. Bligh says she'll donate that money to a local charity. That's good.

I'm reading some of her old journal entries now. There's one I like from August Bligh says the Queensland government is working to decriminalize surrogate mothers. I guess it has been illegal. They plan to only legalize altruistic surrogacy. That would be like someone getting pregnant for her friend or sister. It seems like it will still be illegal to do it for a fee.

Bligh says the law will cover homosexual couples wanting to have children. Good.

She has a bunch of speeches on the site. The only one that I'm interested in reading is the one she did on Sorry Day.

Bligh says, Again it struck me that the pain being acknowledged today is not ancient history – it is a raw and ever present reality for so many Queenslanders who live in our neighbourhoods and whom we represent as part of our electorates.

People often say, don't dwell on the past. The thing is, I don't think people would dwell on the past if there wasn't still shit in the present. If life for current Indigenous Australians was equal to that of non-indigenous Australians, I really don't think they'd care so much about the past.

In my own life, I've had strenuous relationships with certain people. I had so much anger at them....for past and present stuff. Lately though, I've been getting along very well with these people. I'm not sure if it's because I've become more tolerant, or they've changed in a way that is pleasing to me. It's probably a combination of both.

Anyway, because we're getting along so well now, I rarely think about negative things from the past. I actually have sit there sometimes and think. Wait. Why was I so mad at them before? Sometimes I can dredge up some negative stuff, but I don't feel anger about it.

So I really think people only dwell on the past when they're still being hurt in the present.

Of course, it can be a bit circular. People are angry about the past. Those they're angry with get defensive. There might be some guilt. This causes anger and fights to continue.

So reconciliation really takes BOTH groups making an effort. The white folks need to apologize, but if the Indigenous Australians refuse to accept the apology (and some have) that's going to be a hindrance. Although I think most people haven't rejected the apology. I think it's more about feeling the apology is a start, but not enough.

Ah. This is interesting. Queensland did it's own formal apology way before. They gave an apology to their stolen children in 1999.

Bligh says.....And importantly Mr Speaker – a future where all Australians, whatever their origin, put to rest the pain of yesterday and work together to create a tomorrow of equality, respect and mutual responsibility.

What comes first, putting the pain of the past to rest or having the happy equal tomorrow? It's like the chicken and egg thing. Can the pain be put to rest with just an apology...even though life is so incredibly unequal for Indigenous Australians? But can things become equal if people are so distrustful and angry with each other?

I say we're all up a creek without a paddle. I think it's POSSIBLE for things to get better, but I think it's going to take a LOT of work. I say we here....not because I've forgotten I'm not Australian. But as you all know, my country has it's own similar issues.

Anyway, I think I'm going to quit early today. I want to get my stuff done, so Jack and I can go visit his grandma.


  1. Well, I'm back commenting. I've still been enjoying the posts but I'm now addicted to commenting.

    I actually don't think pro-life is anything other than a fringe idea in Australia. Most every major politician here on either side recognises the adverse public health implications of prohibition of abortion and won't come at it. We would all prefer less abortions, probably, but prohibition is generally recognised as not the answer (partly because of the likelihood of the return of dangerous 'backyard abortions').

    That said, you may have heard of an interesting abortion prosecution case that is actually occurring in Queensland now:

    It was more about irregularly procuring abortion pills from overseas, though, as legal abortion is available in Queensland. Abortion is the decision of the doctor here and most states have allowed them to abort fetuses when not aborting would interfere with the mental health of the woman concerned. In practice, this makes abortion easy to obtain legally. I don't know about late term ones, though. I'm guessing something similar must be allowed in parts of the US. A difference may be that the cost of abortions are either born completely or subsidised by governments in Australia in line with our more health oriented health system in Australia.

    It's ironic that you were thinking of Queensland as a "red" state because Liberal colours are traditionally blue and Labor's used to be red before they wanted to seem less Communist. The conservative Nationals (their colours used to be green) actually did corruptly rule for two decades in Queensland from the 60s to the 80s (I hope they won't sue) and using a gerrymander (mostly under Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen) after a long period of mainly conservative Labor rule. The Labor Party there is probably more conservative than in many states (as southern Democratic politicians often are in the US).

    You asked an interesting question about school testing because it made me think about Australia's testing history. I think there is a pendulum of testing a lot and then not testing and then testing a lot again because my parents were tested several times a year but I wasn't really seriously tested in any comparative way until the end of year 12 (in 1981) and now we are having a lot of testing again. Make of that what you will.

    When you were talking about Australian territories I thought of Norfolk Island which was coincidental because you then mentioned the mutiny on the Bounty. Many of the residents of Norfolk Island are descendents of the mutineers.

    Joan Kirner and Carmen Lawrence actually didn't replace retiring premiers. The men they replaced were unpopular premiers who were forced out and then the women were voted out partly because of the faults of the men (but not completely - the women made some mistakes, too).

    Miami is one of many Floridian names borrowed in Queensland usually to name resort-style locales.

    It is Breast Cancer month here. That's probably one of your rhetorical questions but I thought I'd answer (because I'm a comment addict after all).

    You mentioned Premier Barnett being the only conservative Premier. We had an interesting few months about a years ago when the most senior conservative government office holder was the Lord Mayor of Brisbane.

  2. Martin,

    I'm glad you're back to commenting! And my rhetorical questions=I want to know, but am too lazy to do the I'll just hope a nice person answers for me.

    I think in America, pro-life is much more than fringe. So our countries would definitely differ there.

    I wish people here would realize prohibition is not the answer.

    I haven't heard about the abortion case. I'll go read it now.

    Well, that link didn't work for me, but I found the story.

    VERY sad. The woman was going through enough agony as it is. She didn't need to be passed under, over, around, and through all the red tape.

    The article confuses me a bit. What is the definition of medical abortion? Would that be like any abortion that is induced...rather than a natural miscarriage?

    So, it's illegal in Queensland...or just illegal at government hospitals?

    From what you say, it seems legal...

    I'm so confused.

    Wait. Maybe I'm reading the wrong story. I just found another one.

    I was reading one about a woman who wanted an abortion because her fetus had a fatal abnormality. She couldn't find a hospital to do the abortion.

    But maybe you're talking about the people who are in trouble for inducing their own abortion at home.

    What color is Labor now? I have no idea why Republicans are red, and Democrats are blue. But I do see the irony of calling Queensland a red state. It might have been a bit ethnocentric of me...assuming everyone labels their political parties the same color as we do.

    I can't remember how much I was tested in school. I do remember taking some standardized tests. But I don't remember it being a huge deal. I don't remember practicing the test, or anything like that.

    Thanks for the info about the kicked-out premiers. I think I was unsure of that...retirement, or forced exit.

  3. Actually, both Liberal and Labor use red, white and blue today (because they are the colours of the Australian flag, I'm guessing). I follow US politics a bit and it amuses me that the Republicans are the reds. I didn't think you were being ethnocentric.

    Here's the latest news report on the 'abortion couple', Tegan Leach and Sergie Brennan (yes, they did it at home and the police happened to find the empty blister pack while they were looking for something else - I don't know what):

    I hope this link works for you. It IS a confusing legal situation because there are anti-abortion rules in most states but it IS basically legal and paid for by the government as long as a doctor decides it's in the woman's medical/health interests. Why they chose to import drugs from Ukraine is anybody's guess as they certainly could have got a legal abortion (in any state), AFAIK.

  4. She was on Celebrity Masterchef last week and seemed to do really well, we let the kids stay up and watch it-- we were all rooting for her, but that may have been because she was the only female.

    I have tons of photos from the Gold Coast when we went thru the "Miami" area, I was cracking up, especially when I saw like the miami hearing aid clinic, being that that is something sooo Miami, FL. I think I did a blog post a long time ago with all the Miami photos because I was so amused.

    Hope you're having fun in FL!

  5. You mentioned the most interesting thing about Anna Bligh, as far as I'm concerned: Anna Bligh is the great-great-great-great-granddaughter of William Bligh, who was the fourth Governor of the colony of New South Wales.

    It's terrific a Labor premier hails from autocratic origins. That's a triumph of Australian democracy.

  6. Martin: Well, at least Australian political parties can agree on a color to share ; ). We Americans are even divided by that!

    You probably follow American politics more than I do. But I have learned a little more...actually I learn about American politics by learning about Australia's.

    The abortion stuff is quite interesting. Is it difficult to get a doctor's consent for the abortion? Maybe the couple felt it would be easier to just import the drugs. I don't know....

    Laura: What did she make on Masterchef? I'm glad she did well!

    I remember seeing your Florida photos from Queensland. I'm not sure if I saw them on your blog...or Ofoto/Flickr. Did you ever use ofoto? Now I can't remember!

    Thanks about Florida. We're not there yet though : ) Right now I'm still in Texas!

    Micheal: Yeah. It's pretty cool!

  7. I don't think it would be difficult but I've never tried. They may have not wanted to discuss it with anyone (except the Ukranian mafia that they probably got the drugs through). It seems a little nutty to me.

  8. I love Anna! My ex actually ran against her in an election. I still have his flyer for that.

    I have worked in State Government for a few years (not at the moment though) and it is quite an interesting work environment, I think I worked under Beattie though. You've got old Govt and new Govt employees, old refers to the people that have been around since Sir Joh days (which if you're interested in knowing about there's a book called Pig City by Andrew Stafford - the book talks about the music scene in Brisbane and why it had a political edge to it). Sir Joh Qld and current Qld are two different things. And then another thing about Qld is you've got City, Surf and Country Qld and the people around those places are very different.

    Qld is conservative in the sense that it's a bit old school. Like most businesses are closed on Sundays. But read up on the 'Fair Go' ideal of Australia and you'll understand why our conservative is different to America. Your confusion about the 'colour' of our state is something I have to deal with in speaking to my father in law who is heavily Republican. He always calls me a Liberal and I always have to correct him. Which is another funny thing I was more Liberal (Aus) until I lived in the States! After that experience I really saw the value in Govt supported higher education, Health Care, Family payments and support, Unemployment Benefits, Unions and all the other things.

    The whole abortion issue is a big argument with me and my inlaws. It really disappoints me that a nation of the 'free world' still refuses to take a secular stance on this issue and my Christian inlaws wonder at how I can be so sinful to think that. I can talk knowing about it in Brisbane Qld that the abortion practise isn't exactly easy (a decision like that is never easy for one to make) but it's not out of reach if you're in need. It's under Family Planning/Sexual Health clinics (Govt) and you have to go through a counselling process before a Dr decides. Sexual Health also does a lot of work at education and prevention with schools/uni's. There is also the issue of time - there is a limit before a medical reason is needed.

    About the Indigenous and Aboriginal Australians, I've worked State Govt, I've seen the efforts people have put into programs aiming for a better quality of life. The problems are still there because it's a complex issue that requires a lot more attention than what it receives. Programs are put into place but follow up is dropped because the world economic situation drops overnight, an idiot who doesn't have the right investment is put into power over department or some stupid newspaper with a political agenda wants to call out on something to expose an issue and a Govt spends all it's time/funding scurrying around fixing the seen problem rather than working on proactive programs for bettering the quality of life.

  9. Amy Michelle,

    Funny about your ex! Who won?

    I'm looking up this Sir Joh guy now. It's totally thundering here. I feel like I'm in a horror know where they're researching the indestructible villain on the Internet. Except I'm just looking up a Premier. He was in office for a pretty long time. Maybe that's why I had that idea of Queensland being conservative.

    I can see why you have trouble discussing the political stuff with your father-in-law. I think it's so confusing. My husband and I were talking about it yesterday, and we were stumped. If we talk about Australia politics in terms of left and right, we're okay. Or we can say "Liberal" and "Labor" But my husband said "Conservative" and was looking for the opposite word...and we were stumped because we didn't want to say liberal.

    I'm probably not making any sense.

    It's so fascinating how being in America changed you politically. I'm fascinated by people changing sides. My ex-aunt did that. She was LEFT (I wanted to say Liberal...but trying to avoid that). And then she turned totally right-wing.

    My brother-in-law is totally right-wing. Then he told me he used to be a Democrat. I was shocked.

    I read a book about a 9/11 widow. They and their husbands had been Republicans, but after the whole ugly fiasco, the widow became a democrat.

    Did something in particular change you, or was the change gradual? Do you still feel somewhat Liberal. Are you more in the middle, or have you gone fairly far left?

    As for the Indigenous Australians, you probably have a good point. It's so complex.

    Same with abortion.