In 1978, Bernie Dowling and I took this pamphlet down south to emphasise to people how dangerous populists like Bjelke-Petersen in the deep north could be. We went around Trades Hall in Melbourne, the International Bookshop, Australian Union of Students, Radio 3CR and other left wing hang outs trying to flog the pamphlet to anyone who would listen or read. Here is the intro written by Bernie Dowling. Over 40 years have passed, but the situation outlined here remains.
QUEENSLAND: POLITICS, PEOPLE AND INTERNATIONAL CAPITAL
THE BEGINNING OF THE BEGINNING
They do not, by and large, like politicians – I suppose that, by and large, they do not really like anyone much – but they ‘have a certain respect for them the same way they might have for a horse or a gun dog. There is of course, a lot of Texan among this stratum of millionaire. A lot of them are sort of high-class John Wayne’s – enormously rich John Wayne’s who don’t feel it necessary to do their own barroom brawling. – JOHN HEPWORTH on International Capitalists.
THE WORST MISTAKE that people from other States can make about Queensland is that economically politically, and socially it is behind the rest of Australia. The evidence cited is misleading. True, wages are below those of New South Wales and Victoria. True, the poverty rate is the second highest after Tasmania. True, unemployment is very high.
True, politicians such as Russ Hinze and Bjelke-Petersen are unsophisticated. True, the public service has little autonomy. True, the Labor Party is dominated by reactionaries, time servers and dullards. True, organized labour is led by a political, beer swilling, spoil seekers. True, there is a dearth of left-wing intelligentsia. True anti-intellectualism, runs rampant. True, education and the arts are underdeveloped. True, the media a range from the yellow through the mediocre to the jingoistic. True, Queensland University is a backwater of inaction, thoughtlessness and predatory competition for non-existent jobs.
However, truths without perspective are not productive for social critics. They can never be used as a basis for offence against the effective use of lies conceived in the interests of the ruling class is a justification for attacks on the peop1e of Queensland, and rhetoric of the 1eft or right will not determine the result of a struggle which can only be fought in the streets of Queensland.
If Australia were in isolation, then the State of Queensland might well be an anachronism. Queensland unionism might achieve successes against domestic bosses and social and intellectua1 life might advance in a freer political climate. But in a world dominated by transnational capitalism.
Queensland is the centre of the struggle which will determine Australia’s history over the next few decades. In this sense, the first decisive offensive of international capital against the people of Australia is occurring in this State. (War has also been declared in Western Australia as no doubt peop1e in that State are fully aware).
Media has portrayed the struggle in Queensland a battle of ideas.
In one corner is the fundamentalist right wing. philosophy of Petersen. In the other corner is the fundamentalist left wing: philosophy. Scattered around the ring are civil libertarians, middle of the road politicians, union bureaucrats, newspaper editorialists, concerned Christians and sophisticated intellectuals, all striving for a middle course. The irony is that the dogmatists, the Petersen government and the dreaded socialists, are the only ones who understand the severity and simplicity of the fight.