The Lion and the Fox: Whitlam, Bjelke-Petersen and the Queensland Electorate 1961–1975

Megarrity, Lyndon (2022) The Lion and the Fox: Whitlam, Bjelke-Petersen and the Queensland Electorate 1961–1975. ANU Historical Journal II, 3. pp. 23-52.

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Abstract

Queensland played a significant role in Gough Whitlam’s political career as a federal politician. Whitlam’s electioneering in the Sunshine State during the 1960s helped secure his reputation as a forward-thinking, progressive leader with both a national and regionally focused agenda. As a leading figure within the federal Labor Opposition, he skilfully employed a specific notion of ‘Queensland difference’ based on local resentment of perceived ‘southern’ neglect to enhance his appeal to Queensland voters. However, as prime minister (1972–75), his failure to maintain a strong connection with the Queensland electorate undid much of the political capital Whitlam had accumulated in the state during the previous decade. This was compounded by his increasingly toxic relationship with a state rights–oriented Queensland premier, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, who, energised by his own version of ‘Queensland difference’, obstructed key aspects of Whitlam’s national political agenda. Whitlam and Bjelke-Petersen’s individual approaches to the political issue of ‘Queensland difference’ are compared and contrasted in this essay, and it is argued that, ultimately, both were reliant on the same emotional message to Queensland electors: the idea that Queenslanders wished to be noticed, respected outside the state and to be perceived as good as, and to have the same material advantages as, other Australians. The paper concludes with a brief reflection on the continuities and discontinuities of federalism in Australia since the period under review.

Item ID: 74389
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2652-0281
Keywords: Whitlam Government; Queensland Politics; Queensland Political History; Bjelke-Petersen Government; Queensland History
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Copyright Information: © 2022 ANU Press. This title is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercialNoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence.
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2022 23:37
FoR Codes: 43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4303 Historical studies > 430302 Australian history @ 50%
43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4303 Historical studies > 430303 Biography @ 50%
SEO Codes: 13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1307 Understanding past societies > 130703 Understanding Australia’s past @ 100%
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