Peter Beattie

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Peter Beattie
AC
Peter Beattie, BYCC, August 2013 (cropped).jpg
36th Premier of Queensland
Elections: 1998, 2001, 2004, 2006
In office
20 June 1998 – 13 September 2007
Deputy Paul Braddy
Terry Mackenroth
Anna Bligh
Preceded by Rob Borbidge
Succeeded by Anna Bligh
Member of the Queensland Parliament for Brisbane Central
In office
1989–2007
Preceded by Brian Davis
Succeeded by Grace Grace
Leader of the Queensland Labor Party
In office
1996–2007
Deputy Anna Bligh
Preceded by Wayne Goss
Succeeded by Anna Bligh
Leader of the Opposition of Queensland
In office
1996–1998
Preceded by Rob Borbidge
Succeeded by Rob Borbidge
Queensland Minister for Health
In office
1995–1996
Premier Wayne Goss
Personal details
Born Peter Douglas Beattie
(1952-11-18) 18 November 1952 (age 61)
Sydney, New South Wales
Nationality Australian
Political party Australian Labor Party
Spouse(s) Heather Beattie
Alma mater University of Queensland
Queensland University of Technology
Profession Lawyer
Trade Unionist
Politician
Religion Anglican

Peter Douglas Beattie, AC (born 18 November 1952) is an Australian politician who served as the 36th Premier of Queensland from 1998 to 2007 and Leader of the Australian Labor Party in that state from 1996 to 2007. His sweeping victories in the 2001, 2004 and 2006 state elections confirmed him as one of the most electorally successful politicians in Australia.

He retired electorally undefeated in 2007. In his later years he groomed and was then succeeded by his Deputy Anna Bligh, who became the first female Premier of Queensland. He was the unsuccessful Labor candidate for the seat of Forde at the 2013 federal election.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Beattie was born in Sydney as the youngest of seven children. He was raised by his grandmother at Atherton, a small town in North Queensland. At school, he met Heather Scott-Halliday, whom he later married. They have three adult children and live in Wilston, a suburb of Brisbane.

After Beattie moved to Brisbane, he graduated with a law degree from the University of Queensland, earned a Master of Arts degree from Queensland University of Technology, and then entered the legal practice. During his studies at the University of Queensland, Beattie was President of the Student Club at St John's College, University of Queensland.

Pre-Parliamentary career[edit]

In 1974, he joined the Labor Party, which had been in opposition for 17 years and had just suffered the worst defeat in its history at the hands of the dominant National Party Premier, Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

Beattie became involved in the campaign led by Dr Denis Murphy to reform the Queensland branch of the party, which was dominated by elderly and conservative trade union leaders. In 1981 the federal Labor Party leader, Bill Hayden, led a federal intervention in Queensland, and Beattie became Queensland State Secretary. Eight years later, Wayne Goss became Queensland's first Labor Premier since Vince Gair in 1957.

Prior to his election to Parliament and in addition to State Secretary, Beattie was a solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland and secretary of the Railway Stationmasters' Union.

Early parliamentary career (1989-1996)[edit]

At the 1989 election Beattie was elected to the Queensland Parliament as MP for Brisbane Central. Something of a maverick within the parliamentary party during his early term, Beattie was mistrusted by faction leaders and kept out of the ministry. His main post was as chairman of the parliamentary committee overseeing the Criminal Justice Commission (now the Crime and Misconduct Commission), a role in which he frequently took the side of CJC Commissioner Sir Max Bingham against the Goss government, earning Goss's ire. Beattie also publicly criticised Goss for being out of touch. Goss did not appoint him to the ministry until Labor's near defeat at the 1995 election, where Beattie became Minister for Health. He was only in office for three months before the Goss government lost office following defeat in the Mundingburra by-election.

Goss then stood down as ALP leader, and Beattie was elected in his stead, thus becoming Opposition Leader.

In his first act as Opposition leader he moved a motion in Parliament that was passed preventing the new Coalition government under Rob Borbidge from calling an early election. Labor feared that an early election could give the Coalition an outright majority.

Premier (1998-2007)[edit]

At the 1998 state election Labor won 44 seats out of 89, and was only denied a majority when One Nation won six seats that otherwise would have gone to Labor if not for Coalition preferences.[2] Beattie succeeded in forming a minority government with the support of independent MP, Peter Wellington. Later following a by-election the Labor Party achieved a majority in its own right.

Shortly before the 2001 election, he faced a crisis when a CJC inquiry - the Shepherdson inquiry - revealed that a number of MPs and party activists—including Deputy Premier Jim Elder, a former State Secretary and newly elected MP Mike Kaiser, and a senior adviser to Wayne Goss—had been engaged in breaches of the Electoral Act by falsely enrolling people to boost their faction's strength in internal party ballots. Beattie acted swiftly, forcing a number of MPs to quit politics. In the ensuing campaign, Beattie claimed a Labor win would ensure stable government. He argued the only alternative was a Coalition government propped up by One Nation and former One Nation MPs—an argument that gained particular resonance when Borbidge's own party room reneged on Borbidge's promise to not give preferences to One Nation.[2] Beattie was rewarded with a smashing victory, winning 66 seats out of 89—the biggest majority Labor has ever won in an election.

Beattie’s key agenda was to transform Queensland into Australia’s "Smart State" by restructuring the education system, skilling the workforce and encouraging research and development and high tech biotechnology, information technology and aviation industries to locate in Queensland. In 2003, the Premier was awarded an honorary doctorate of science from the University of Queensland "in recognition of his leadership and commitment to higher education through Smart State initiatives and his support for research in the fields of biotechnology and nanotechnology".[3]

2004 state election[edit]

In February 2004 Beattie again went to the polls, and again a crisis blew up shortly before the election, with a highly critical report on the state of Queensland's system of child protection. Beattie accepted full personal responsibility for the issue, and paradoxically turned the issue into a positive for the government. At the 7 February elections Beattie won 63 seats, a net loss of only three, losing four seats to the National-Liberal Opposition but gaining one from them. This made him one of the most successful state politicians in Australian history.

2005/2006 Queensland Health crisis[edit]

In the latter part of 2005, Beattie faced potentially his most serious political crisis: the revelations and inquiries into Queensland Health and the Bundaberg public hospital after Jayant Patel, an Indian-born surgeon who was struck off the register in the United States for malpractice, performed several botched operations in the hospital, some of which resulted in death, and then fled the country to the US. Amid the controversy, the health minister Gordon Nuttall resigned his portfolio, the Speaker, Ray Hollis, resigned after controversy associated with his use of Parliamentary expenditure, and the Deputy Premier and Treasurer, Terry Mackenroth, retired, forcing by-elections in the safe Labor seats of Redcliffe and Chatsworth on 20 August. The ALP suffered major swings against it and both seats were lost to the Liberal Party, the first serious electoral setback for Beattie since becoming Premier.

A Newspoll in late 2005 showed support for Labor in Queensland down six percentage points to 50 per cent, an all-time low since Beattie became Premier. Following the retirement of the Premier of New South Wales, Bob Carr in 2005, Beattie became the longest-serving state Premier among his contemporaries.

2006 state election[edit]

Despite this, Beattie went on to win the September 2006 election convincingly, with a slight swing towards the ALP in terms of its primary vote, and two party preferred result.[4] Coalition Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg stepped down. Before the election Liberal Leader Bob Quinn was forced by his party colleagues to step down a fortnight before polling day.[5] The campaign of Quinn's replacement Dr Bruce Flegg was characterized by inexperience and indecisiveness and lacked an organised, professional approach.[6] Premier Beattie therefore was never challenged by the opposition and was able to secure a fourth consecutive term in office. This result puts Beattie in the realm of iconic political figures. He is the only state Labor leader since Neville Wran, NSW Labor Premier from 1976 to 1986, to do so and is Queensland's fourth longest serving Premier after Labor's William Forgan Smith (1932–1942), the Country Party's Frank Nicklin (1957–1968) and National Party Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen (1968–1987).

Retirement[edit]

Beattie announced on 10 September 2007 his decision to retire from politics. His resignation as Premier officially took effect on 13 September 2007. At the time of his retirement, he was the longest-serving state premier in the country.[7] The Labor caucus elected Anna Bligh as its leader on 12 September.[8] In 2009, Anna Bligh led her party to a state election victory, thereby becoming the first Australian female to be popularly elected as a state premier.

He officially stood down as the Member for Brisbane Central on 14 September 2007. Beattie then served as Queensland's Trade Commissioner to North and South America based in Los Angeles, a position he was appointed to by Anna Bligh in March 2008 after previously stating that he would not accept a federal or state government role.[9]

In late May 2010 Beattie announced that he was retiring early from his position as Queensland's Los Angeles-based trade and investment commissioner.[10] In June 2010 it was announced that he had accepted a position with Clemson University in South Carolina.[11] On 24 August 2011, the Gillard Government appointed Beattie as Australia's first Resources Sector Supplier Envoy charged with promoting a Buy Australian at Home and Abroad program for supplying products to the Australian resources industry.[12]

Federal politics[edit]

Beattie with Kevin Rudd, the then-Prime Minister of Australia, during his unsuccessful campaign for the Division of Forde at the 2013 federal election.

Beattie's popularity often led to speculation that he would enter national politics,[13] particularly after federal Labor's defeat at the 2001 federal election. But Beattie resisted such suggestions, saying that he loved Queensland too much to leave, and anyway Canberra was "too cold".[14] On announcing his retirement he again ruled out a move to federal politics, saying that he would, politically speaking, disappear.[15]

However, in August 2013, Beattie announced his intention to run in the 2013 federal election in the Queensland federal seat of Forde. He was defeated by incumbent Liberal National Party MP Bert Van Manen.[16]

Beattie's candidacy in Forde is not the first time that he has made a run for Federal Parliament. His first attempt was for the safe Liberal seat of Ryan at the 1980 election in which he was easily defeated by Liberal John Moore.

Other matters[edit]

In May 2005 Beattie released his autobiography "Making A Difference", in which he described his upbringing, political life and his views on key issues, including health, education and social reform. The book is part memoir, part manifesto.[17] Beattie says that the reason he released the book while he is in office, rather than when he is retired, is because no-one would want to read about him if he was not in the public arena. This is Beattie's third book after his earlier autobiographical piece "In the Arena" (1990) and the thriller "The Year of the Dangerous Ones".

In the media[edit]

Beattie's self-description as a "media tart"[18] as well as his political successes have led to a love-hate relationship with The Courier-Mail, Brisbane's daily newspaper. Columnist Peter Wear, for example, ran a long-running satire on Queensland politics in general with the major role played by "President for Life Mbeattie".

The controversy over the performance of the government-owned electricity supplier Energex during the severe 2003-2004 storm season in South East Queensland resulted in the characterisation of Beattie as "Power Point Pete" by Courier-Mail cartoonist Sean Leahy, with the location of the drawing's eyes and nose designed to replicate the holes of a power point.

In August 2007 the Beattie government proposed to reduce the number of councils from 154 to 72, which would result in the merger of a number of regional and extra-metropolitan councils into larger Regional Councils. This proved particularly unpopular in the affected regional areas.

Honours[edit]

On 1 January 2001, Beattie was awarded the Centenary Medal for his contribution to Queensland.[19] On 11 June 2012, Beattie was named a Companion of the Order of Australia for "eminent service to the Parliament and community of Queensland, through initiatives in the area of education and training, economic development, particularly in biotechnology, information technology and aviation industries, and to the promotion of international trade."[20]

Personal life[edit]

Peter is married to Heather Beattie, a former professor of nursing. They have three adult children, Larissa, Denis and Matthew Beattie. He is an Anglican; and, his wife is the daughter of an Anglican clergyman.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-08-08/election-blog-august-8/4872560
  2. ^ a b Green, Antony. Queensland election preview. Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2012-01-25.
  3. ^ Queensland Premier to receive UQ honour - University of Queensland, 7 Dec 2003
  4. ^ "Bulletproof Beattie cruises to fourth victory in a row". Sydney Morning Herald. 10 September 2006. 
  5. ^ "Party changes renew Qld election speculation". ABC News. 8 August 2006. 
  6. ^ "Nothing great about debate or the campaign". The Australian. 9 September 2006.  - Media clipping re-published by Queensland Media Club
  7. ^ 'Beattie retires as Qld Premier', ABC News online, 10 September 2007.
  8. ^ 'Anna Bligh: first woman to be Queensland Premier', Australian Labor Party, retrieved 12 September 2007.
  9. ^ The Australian (2008). Former Queensland premier Peter Beattie backflips into government's US trade post. Retrieved 2 August 2009.
  10. ^ Walker, Jamie (28 May 2010). "Peter Beattie bows out, with praise for Julia Gillard". The Australian. 
  11. ^ Mitchell, Peter (23 June 2010). "New job for Peter Beattie in America". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  12. ^ Minister for Innovation (2011). Buy Australian at Home and Abroad. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  13. ^ "Is Peter Beattie Preparing To Leap Into Federal Politics?". SMH. 2 July 2005. Retrieved 2007-08-04. 
  14. ^ Dickie, Phil (8 February 2004). "Man of the people magic". Melbourne: The Age. 
  15. ^ Cosima Marriner (11 September 2007). "Beattie quits and promises to disappear". Melbourne: The Age. 
  16. ^ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-08-08/election-blog-august-8/4872560
  17. ^ "Making A Difference" - listing on publisher Gleebooks' website
  18. ^ Beattie an unashamed 'media tart' - AM Archive, ABC Local Radio, Thursday, 11 May 2000
  19. ^ "Peter Beattie". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  20. ^ "Companion (AC) in the General Division of the Order of Australia - The Queen's Birthday 2012 Honours Lists". Official Secretary to the Governor-General of Australia. 11 June 2012. p. 1. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Rob Borbidge
Premier of Queensland
1998 – 2007
Succeeded by
Anna Bligh
Preceded by
Terry Mackenroth
Treasurer of Queensland
2005 – 2006
Succeeded by
Anna Bligh
Preceded by
Jim Elder
Minister for Trade
2000 – 2005
Succeeded by
Anna Bligh
Preceded by
Anna Bligh
Minister for Trade
2006 – 2007
Succeeded by
John Mickel
Preceded by
Jim Elder
Minister for State Development
2000
Succeeded by
Terry Mackenroth
Preceded by
Rob Borbidge
Leader of the Opposition in Queensland
1996 – 1998
Succeeded by
Rob Borbidge
Party political offices
Preceded by
Wayne Goss
Leader of the Labor Party in Queensland
1996 – 2007
Succeeded by
Anna Bligh
Parliament of Queensland
Preceded by
Brian Davis
Member for Brisbane Central
1989 – 2007
Succeeded by
Grace Grace