Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Peter Beattie

Peter Beattie is probably yet another Premier of a Australian state.

But maybe not.

Maybe he's in a different category.

Let me go see what Lord Wiki has to say......

He IS a former Premier. This time we're dealing with Queensland.

You know, I've written about Premiers from South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. I've yet to write about one from Western Australia and Tasmania. Nor have I written about any of the Chief Ministers of the Territories. Maybe someday.....

Peter Beattie was the last Premier before the cooking show woman, Anna Bligh. He had the job from 1998 until 2007.

Baby Peter wasn't born in Queensland. He was born in Sydney on November 18, 1952. His birthday is a few days before mine.

Lord Wiki says the young Peter was raised by his grandmother. She lived in a small town in Northern Queensland called Atherton. I wonder why he didn't stay with his parents. He had six older siblings. Did the family not have enough money to feed yet another child? Maybe his parents died? If so, did his siblings also come to live with his grandmother too?

I'm going to look at Google Maps and find Atherton. Okay. I see it. It's inland. The closest city I've heard of is Cairns. That's very close. It's about an hour and a half south-west....more south than west.

When I write these entries, I speak aloud what I'm writing. I know that's very weird. Anyway, while reading aloud just now, my voice sounded like Eartha Kitt. I thought that was kind of funny.

Anyway. Yeah. Back to the program.

Actually, Jack wants breakfast. I would LOVE a hot chocolate right now. I'll be back in a jiffy.

Okay. I'm back.

Lord Wiki doesn't say too much about Beattie's childhood. He eventually moved to Brisbane, and went to the University of Queensland. There he obtained a degree in law, and he had the honor of being the the President of a student club for St. John's College. This college thing is a residence program at the University of Queensland. I've read about one of these things before while doing my research. It sounds really neat. It's more than just a dorm. It has a library, fitness rooms, computer facilities, and music practice rooms. I don't know if we have anything like that in America. Well, I know my university didn't. But then I didn't go to a fancy Ivy League School. Those may have it.

After the University of Queensland, Beattie went to Queensland University of Technology. He got a Masters of Art Degree. Then he entered the law career world.

In 1974, Beattie joined the Labor Party. He would have been about twenty-two at the time. I'm guessing he was still at University then.

Lord Wiki reminds us that at the time Beattie joined, Queensland's Labor Party had been in opposition for seventeen years. It wasn't doing too well.

Beattie joined a group trying to reform the party. At that point, the party was made up of elderly conservative men. I'm guessing Beattie and his friends wanted to drive it more towards the left. It's kind of like how these days, Tony Abbott is trying to make the Liberal party much more to the right.

Here's something I don't understand. Lord Wiki says that in 1981, Bill Hayden led a Federal Intervention in Queensland. What is that? And why did it happen? Well, I guess that somehow led to Beattie becoming State Secretary.

I'm lost.

Let's just skip ahead eight years. Queensland finally got a Labor Premier. They hadn't had one since 1957. This Labor guy finally in power was Wayne Goss. He took office in 1989, and had the job until 1996.

With Goss as Premier, Beattie became the Member of Parliament for Brisbane Central. That district has been Labor since 1977....over thirty years.

Lord Wiki says Beattie wasn't exactly popular in Parliament. He wasn't loved enough to get a Ministry job. He and Gross didn't quite see eye to eye.

Although Beattie didn't have a Ministry job, he did have another role that looks kind of important. He was Chairman of the Crime and Misconduct Commission. Interesting. It looks like only Queensland has this entity. Although maybe other states have it, but they call it something different.

Their website says they fight crime and misconduct in the public sector. I'm not quite sure what's included in public sector. Would that be people in government? Police?

Here. This website has a pretty good definition...well, at least I understand it. They say the public sector would include people working in the police force, military, public roads, public transportation, education, government healthcare, etc. I guess it would be anyone employed by the government rather than a private business.

Anyway, when Beattie worked with this group (which was then actually called Criminal Justice Commission), there was sometimes conflict between the Commissioner and the Goss Government. Beattie would more often take the side of the Commissioner. Goss wasn't too happy about that. However, I guess he put his ill feeling aside by 1995. At that time, Goss gave Beattie the job of Minister for Health. Soon after that though, Goss stopped being Premier. The Liberal Party got back in. So I guess Beattie was the Shadow Minister of Health. Do they use the term Shadow Minister in the state governments?

At the 1998 election, Labor won 44 out of 89 seats. That's not a majority. But they had the support of one of the independent Members of Parliament. That led to Beattie becoming Premier. I guess somewhere along the line he had become leader of Labor Party.

Lord Wiki says that Beattie did lots of traveling as Premier. He went around the state...showed his face, and got to know people. Things were going well with him, but then something happened just before the 2001 election. Labor Ministers and people active in the party did some naughty election stuff. I don't really understand it. They were falsely enrolling people? What does that mean? Well, let's just say there was some kind of voter fraud going on. That's not good.

Beattie responded by forcing the Members of Parliament (and others involved) to resign. That's good! Hopefully he himself wasn't involved. I mean it would be bad if he had been secretly involved, and then saved his own butt by punishing others. Although I'm guessing it wouldn't happen that way. People he pushed out of politics would probably come forward to try and prove Beattie had been involved as well.

Anyway, I'll assume Beattie was innocent.

Lord Wiki says that one of Beattie's main goals was to increase the intellectual quality of Queensland. He worked towards a better school system and smarter workforce. He encouraged research, and all that fun stuff.

More controversy appeared in 2004. This dealt with Queensland's child protection program. A report came out that was quite negative. Beattie responded by taking full responsibility for the problem. Somehow he turned it all into a positive. It sounds interesting, but Lord Wiki isn't exactly forthcoming with details here. Let me see if I can find an article.

This article from The Age has a little bit about it. They say that in January (of 2004) the Crime and Misconduct Commission released the results of a five month inquiry. It didn't have much good news....if any. They pretty much said that Queensland failed to protect its children from sexual abuse.

In response, Beattie and his government started a child safety department and appointed a Child Safety Minister. This Minister then reported that a month after the department was established, reports of sexual abuse went UP....thirteen percent. That SOUNDS bad, but they say it's likely a matter of more people reporting abuse, and not an actual rise in abuse.

Here's the department's website. It's around five-years-old now. I hope they've had some success in helping children.

Beattie managed the crisis fairly well. He made it through the 2004 election. Then he faced even more crisis! Poor guy.

In 2005, we run into the Jayant Patal drama. This was that killer doctor guy. I actually found a book on Powells regarding the story. I added it to my wish list, but I didn't buy it in my most recent shopping spree. I'm not sure I'm emotionally stable enough to read such a story. I already have enough fear and mistrust of medical professionals (both Western and alternative). I don't need to feed myself even more paranoia.

I will scare myself and read a little bit right now. Lord Wiki's brief description in the Beattie entry is confusing. I'm going to head to the entry on Patal.

Okay. He worked at a hospital in Bundaberg....the place that makes that rum.

He was born in India, and trained in the United States. There he caused some problems...failed to examine patients before surgery. He was slapped with a fine and three years probation. This was in New York. He headed off to Oregon. There'd he come in on his days off and perform surgeries that weren't necessary. Sometimes these killed the patients.


This is so creepy.

Those in charge got involved. They told Patel he was no longer allowed to perform certain surgeries, and he had to get a second opinion before performing other surgeries. Then finally they dismissed the guy. Well, they forced him to give up his license. What did Patel do? He moved to Queensland!

The hospital in Bundaberg didn't do so good with the whole check references and background thing. Oops. Not only did they hire Patel, but they allowed him to become director of surgery. My goodness.

Nurses started to notice things were not quite right. Basically, Patel was gross. He had poor hygiene. He'd refuse to wash his hands. When a nurse complained, he said, doctors don't have germs. Yeah.

Lord Wiki says Patal was linked to eighty-seven patient deaths.

Here's something crazy. Lord Wiki says that the Queensland Department of Health PAID for Patal's air fare so he could leave Australia and return to Oregon. If that's not bad enough....they bought him a business class seat. What the hell? I hope this is one of those times where Lord Wiki has his facts mixed up.

EVENTUALLY, folks decided that Patal needed to be arrested. They brought him back to Australia where he was charged with manslaughter, bodily harm, and fraud.

Anyway, Beattie was Premier during all this. So I guess he was partly responsible for the mess... maybe not directly, but it did happen under his watch. In response, he asked the Minister of Health to resign.

This Brisbane newspaper confirms that Queensland health paid for the plane ticket. I really shouldn't say confirm. Two websites agreeing on something doesn't guarantee it's true. What would be a better word?

Corroborate! I think that would work. I actually had that word in my head, but I had no idea how to spell it. I had to do some major Google searching.

Why would Queensland Health pay for the ticket? Now I can understand, it wasn't proven he was guilty yet. But he was at least under suspicion. He had been slapped on the wrist several times by the medical bosses. It ALMOST seems like Queensland wanted him simply out of there. Let's hide the mess...sweep it under the carpet.

As Shakespeare might say....Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
Despite all the problems, Beattie still managed to win the 2006 election. Wow. Was the Liberal Party candidate incredibly stinky or something?

In 2007, Beattie retired. Anna Bligh took his place.

Lord Wiki says he's written a book. It's called Making a Difference. It's an autobiography type thing. I say he should write another book called What to Do When Bad Stuff Happens in the State and You're the Premier.
I'm sure none of the Patel stuff is actually his fault. It's probably just bad luck. I mean he could be blamed indirectly. I'm sure he's the one who appointed the health minister. All in all, the main villain in the story is Dr. Patel. But then you have people whose negligence allowed it to happen.

I think it's best to follow the advice we learned on X-Files.


And just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean there aren't crazy evil murderous doctors out there.


  1. Love it ... you're in full detective mode here ... excellent post and love your quirkiness too ;)

  2. Redness,

    Thank you : ) That's a very nice compliment.

  3. I think the intervention was where the Federal Labor Party told the Queensland Labor Party what to do and how it should be run. In other words they got rid of the old unionist running the party and brought in young members of the party.

    The premier before Goss, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen was one of the most despised people in Australian politics and was as close to a dictatorship we have ever had in Australia and for some reason they loved him in Queensland. He is someone who you should do a post on very interesting character with some hilarious quotes that just dont make any sense.

    I lived in Queensland when Wayne Goss was premier and Kevin Rudd was his chief of staff. I think the state Labor parties is on the nose in Qld and NSW and they are only there until the next election

  4. Matt,

    Did I know you lived in Queensland? Well, I probably did, and forgot. I seem to be forgetting everything these days.

    The name Joh Bhelke-Peterson has been mentioned to me a few times. I finally added him to my list.

    I'm not sure I understand your last paragraph. Maybe you're using Australian terms??? I hope! Or it could also be my political ignorance.

    Anyway, where in Queensland did you live? Did you like it? Were you there long? Other than that, have you spent most of your life in Sydney?

  5. I think it must be an Australian term, 'on the nose' means they stink. People don't like the smell of them.

    I lived in Caloundra, which is on the Sunshine Coast about 1.5 hours north of Brisbane. My mum and brother still live there but i didn't like it as it was like one big retirement village back then but it is a lot better now. I returned to Sydney after 3 years. Other than that i have spent my entire life in Sydney or Western Sydney to be exact (Blacktown, Toongabbie and Penrith) but now i live in Petersham

  6. Matt,

    I remember now...We have the term "On the nose" in America. It's totally different though. It's a writing term for unrealistic dialogue. Writers will sometimes use unnatural-sounding dialogue to reveal information.

    Maybe you'll like Caloundra after you've become one of the retired people ; )

    We talked about going to the Sunshine Coast. We wanted to see the Australia Zoo. Jack and I had a short-lived passion for the Irwins. I still would like to go one day. But there are WAY too many places I want to visit. I hope my reincarnation belief ends up being true because there is no way I'll be able to see all these places in this one lifetime.

    I've heard of all your west Sydney places except for Toongabbie. That was new to me.

    The one thing I know about Petersham is that Fort Street High School is there. Well, and now I know that's where you live ; )

  7. I went to Australia Zoo when it was still a reptile park and meet Steve and Terry Irwin this was back i think around 1993 so it was before they were famous but they were just starting to get onto TV shows in Queensland. I haven't been back though so i don't know what it is like now but i assume it is a lot bigger.

    Toongabbie is classed as the 3rd settlement of NSW (Sydney, Parramatta, then Toongabbie) and was where the farms were that supported the settlements. So there are still some old historic buildings in the area and is the sight of the Irish Rebellion

  8. Matt,

    Very cool that you met the Irwins. Was the park nice? I like reptiles...although not crocodiles so much. Well, they're fine if they're very far away from me.

    Sad that I had not heard of Toongabbie before. From what you say of it, it would be unlikely that I've never encountered the name of the place. It probably just went through my eyes, but never reached my brain.

  9. It was very nice but it was very small it had Crocodiles, Snakes, Lizards, and they had just got Kangaroos, Koalas and a Cassowary which is the only time i have ever seen one.
    Don't worry, Toongabbie is not very well know in Australia or even Sydney and because it is so close to Parramatta people have forgotten about it.