Thursday, 3 May 2018

How It Took 30 Years To Move From 1900 to 2018

On Monday evening, I had the privilege of attending the launch of the latest Jackie Ryan book, "We'll Show The World" held at The Ship Inn.

The book outlines the details leading to the staging of World Expo 88 on the Southern Bank of the Brisbane River.

By the time formalities commenced, it was standing room only and the bar had been doing a roaring trade.

The attendees included a former Premier, former Lord Mayor and former Head of Treasury.

I am yet to finish reading the book however, it has rekindled many memories of a time when Queensland operated to the beat of a different drum enthusiastically assisted by a Government's unique interpretation of democracy and the separation of powers.

For all the criticism about this unique interpretation, those in favour of Expo and those against all agree it could not have been staged if the usual rules had been applied.

Books such as these are important records of times past, although in this case, a not too distant past.

Many of the traits attributed to the then National Party Government are recognisable in other Governments in various parts of the world today.

For example, law enforcement was for executing Government Policy, an investigative or critical press was seen as the enemy and conflicts of interest and favours for supporters were a part of normal process.

Perhaps one of the most concerning aspects of Queensland for the first 85 years of the twentieth century was the lack of attention to and the lack of value accredited to education.

The majority of parliamentarians on both sides of the house were self-described, self-made people (in reality, Men).

Premier Joh Bjelke - Peterson left school aged 14 as had most Members of Parliament at the time.

Their common view was that they did not suffer from a lack of education and therefore money spent in this area was essentially a waste.

This was also a Government that allowed laws to be introduced or maintained that afforded more rights to Flora and Fauna than it did to Indigenous residents.

If the Government of the time had realised the impact Expo would have on Brisbane and Queensland, I wonder if they would have gone ahead with it.

Brisbane at the time closed at 6pm on weekdays and at midday on Saturday. You could not easily purchase fuel for your car. There were no 24 hours convenience stores and the local radio stations closed down for 5 hours from midnight.

By way of clarification, this was not much more than 30 years ago.

Expo opened the eyes of Queenslanders to a world of experiences they had never imagined and unleashed a lust to learn, discover, create and educate.

Expo was the making of a modern City and expanded the horizons of Queensland as a whole.

Ironically, if not for a Government elected with just 19% of the votes operating in an allegedly corrupt manner, Brisbane and Queensland may have remained locked in the 1930’s.

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