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Monday, 23 February 1987
Page: 567


Mr FREE(10.47) —For almost two months the eyes of the nation have been transfixed by the antics of the Premier of Queensland. As the territorial ambitions and the scope of this man's thrust to power have grown, so too has the media attention which he has attracted. This began as a product of the silly season which the National Times on Sunday so aptly observed on 4 January. It stated:

The seasonal shortage of news leads to some remarkable phenomena. UFOs turn up on the front pages of the tabloids while the broadsheets become concerned with issues that, in normal times, would be treated as minutiae. This year, however, has been remarkable for the credence given by the media to the story that Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen is preparing to lead a national political movement to extirpate the Hawke socialists and bring flat-tax prosperity to the land.

The point is that it is not funny any more, not just because his proposals are being taken seriously by people who should know better, not just because he has succeeded in destabilising the coalition and wrecking the National Party, and not just because he displays a vision as limited as his vocabulary, but because the behaviour patterns of this man, arguably the second most powerful political figure in this country, suggest a serious degree of instability. Accusations and suggestions of instability of his personality are not new. I recall one that was made many years ago by a former Liberal State member from Townsville. He was a medical man and gave a medical, not a political opinion. A second medical opinion was given more recently based on an analysis of the Premier's speech patterns.


Mr Peter Fisher —I take a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. How does one relate the comments that are being made now by this honourable member to the rulings you gave against the honourable member for McPherson just recently?


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Unless the Premier of Queensland has become a member of this House in the last five minutes, the honourable member for Lindsay is quite in order.


Mr FREE —The analysis of the speech patterns suggested that there was something seriously wrong with this man, something beyond the normal run of rustic stupidity. Maximilian Walsh even had a name for it. He termed the disorder `laborphobus paranoidus'. He said:

The characteristic of the LP is that it views each and every action of a Labor government as being part of an elaborate plot to change, in some adverse way, our way of life.

. . . .

Naturally, Joh's remarks are dismissed with ridicule by the Labor people in Canberra but as Henry Kissinger observed when one of the White House staff was expressing concern at the paranoiac behaviour of President Nixon: `Remember, even paranoids have enemies.'

More recent evidence has become available on the Premier's speech patterns. There were some interesting remarks during the South East Queensland Electricity Board dispute. This is what Sir Joh had to say:

These people-

electricity workers-

are terrorists. They threaten people. They threaten to shoot you, threaten to kidnap your kids, threaten to bomb your home, burn your house down.

A journalist asked:

He has been threatened in that manner? It sounds like Beirut or perhaps Sydney.

The Premier said:

Of course they have. Oh my word, they do. They're terrorists. They're thugs and lugs of the highest order.

This quote supports the Walsh paranoia theory. If one looks at Patterns of Abnormal Behaviour by Hutt and Gibby one will see that the paranoiac individual--


Mr Slipper —I raise a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker, and I seek your guidance in relation to it. The House has been treated to a series of outrageous statements and allegations from the honourable member for Lindsay relating to the Premier of Queensland, the Hon. Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —What is your point of order?


Mr Slipper —I am coming to the point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The honourable member for Lindsay has said that during the SEQEB dispute-I am seeking your guidance here, Mr Deputy Speaker--


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —There is no point of order.


Mr Slipper —Mr Deputy Speaker--


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! Resume your seat.


Mr Slipper —Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a further point of order.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —You have not raised a point of order. I call the honourable member for Lindsay.


Mr Slipper —Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a further point or order, and I seek to be heard pursuant to the Standing Orders of this place.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —What is your point of order?


Mr Slipper —The point of order is that the honourable member for Lindsay has raised certain allegations concerning the SEQEB dispute, and I might add that the things he mentioned did happen--


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! There is no point of order.


Mr Slipper —Threats were made; people were threatened; in fact, violence was threatened--


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Fisher will resume his seat. I call the honourable member for Lindsay.


Mr Slipper —And, Mr Deputy Speaker--


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —I warn the honourable member for Fisher.


Mr Slipper —The situation the honourable member for Lindsay has mentioned is wrong.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —The honourable member for Fisher will resume his seat.


Mr FREE —It is a matter of concern to me that an analysis of those speech patterns, suggests that the Premier should be a suitable subject for psychiatric assessment.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.