Saturday, February 6, 2016

Why Peter Beattie?

As readers of this blog will know, Murdoch's Israel fanzine The Australian routinely and relentlessly campaigns against any and every manifestation of public support, however small, timid or symbolic, for the rights of the Palestinian people.

The latest such manifestation, of course, is a proposal by NSW Labor Friends of Palestine to call for the adoption at this month's NSW Labor conference of a ban on party members joining Israel lobby-sponsored propaganda tours (aka rambammings) of Israel.

An integral feature of these campaigns is the trotting out of a handful of Zionist spear-carriers (so far we've heard from Vic Alhadeff, Michael Danby, Warren Mundine & Michael Forshaw) to 'slam' or 'blast' - the preferred terminology - the pro-Palestine initiative as 'misguided' or 'divisive' or 'counter-productive,' and/or smear the offending party as 'anti-Semitic' or 'verging on the anti-Semitic.'

Which is where Peter Beattie now comes in:

"Former Queensland premier (1998-2007) Peter Beattie says the Labor Party risks becoming politically irrelevant over its 'Stalinist' approach to Israel, which he argues has become obsessive." (Beattie blasts ALP's 'Stalinist' stance on Israel, Sharri Markson, 4/2/16)

Now let's not get too excited over what Beattie says - 'Stalinist' is just another smear in the arsenal after all. What's far more interesting is what kind of public figure in this day and age, when the verdict is well and truly in on the matter, is still prepared to go into bat for Israeli apartheid?

If Wordsworth's principle that 'The Child is father of the Man' is any guide to an individual's conduct in later life, maybe we should be examining Beattie's childhood for signs which might herald a future going over to the dark side.

Fortunately, Courier-Mail journalist and novelist, Matthew Condon,* has sketched Beattie's early years. It seems that the lad had, as they say, a few issues:

"Beattie targeted the humanitarian stream in his final two years in school. One classmate recalled: 'He used to say to me - why are you studying those subjects? He would only study what would get him the best results. Peter Beattie was always for Peter Beattie. He always did everything so he looked the best. He wasn't very popular. We always thought he was up himself. He was a crawler that's for sure, and he always knew who to influence and who to make friends with.' Another classmate said Beattie was almost addicted to trophies and tangible symbols of achievement. 'In the scouts he had so many badges on his sleeves they were actually curling underneath the sleeve hem,' he said. 'In his bedroom at the house in Robert Street you couldn't see the walls for all the ribbons and pennants he'd put up. There was everything there on display; even those little minor ribbons you wouldn't think twice about, going right back to primary school. He loved to surround himself with symbols of success. Another student recalled a young myth-maker already at work: 'He used to say he was related to (Otto von) Bismarck (founder of the German Empire), or had some German aristocratic background. It was ridiculous. He'd make up the most fantastic stories'."

And now he's calling NSW Labor - not the Qld mob, note - 'Stalinist'.

"In 1970 - his final year of high school - two issues involving Beattie left a sour note amongst his fellow students, and are still heatedly debated amongst them today. The first was a question of loyalty. Peter Beattie was school captain, and his female counterpart was Jenny Whebell. In the middle of that year a young boy was ordered by a prefect to pick up some papers he had dropped in the schoolyard. He refused. The boy was the son of the principal Morrie Harnell. When the matter was brought to Mr Harnell's attention, the prefect was stripped of her badge. Jenny Whebell and the other prefects felt the principal's actions were unjust. They all resigned their positions until a meeting of the school council could be held. The only one not to turn in his badge was Peter Beattie. 'Peter wouldn't hand his badge in,' one source said. 'Being a small town, the whole thing hit the fan over the weekend. He had his gold medal and he wouldn't let it go. He lost a lot of face over that. The rest of them were prepared to put everything on the line, but not Peter Beattie. Jenny Whebell, now Jenny Butler, confirmed the incident but declined to comment. Another contemporary of Beattie also said the story was accurate. She added: 'I never had much to do with him. I didn't associate with him outside of school. I do know he was interested in himself. That will stick in my brain forever.'

Me, myself & I. So telling that.

"The second issue was the awarding of School Dux to Peter Beattie. His name is painted in gold on the wooden honour board at Atherton State High School today. Some contemporaries still believe the award was granted to Beattie 'by default.' The 1970 Barrinean records that the only academic awards Beattie was granted in that final year were for English and Geography. As is custom, Beattie's final year results as Dux were published in the following year's school magazine. He achieved a single 7, three 6's, one 4 and one 3. In the senior exam at the end of the tear, several former students claimed Beattie was only third or possibly fourth in the class. The School Dux honour was awarded by Principal Harnell, as was tradition, prior to the final senior exam. 'He was very ordinary, academically,' one former student said 'We always felt he was Dux by default'." (Peter Beattie: The Atherton Years, Moo Ink,, 25/11/05)

Very ordinary, academically? Sounds about right. Take Beattie's grasp of history, for example.

Markson quotes him in her 'report' thus:

"Mr Beattie said Australia had played a crucial role in the formation of Israel and should continue to play that constructive role."

This, of course, is a reference to Labor's 1945-49 foreign minister, 'Doc' Evatt, who, as head of the United Nations Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestine Question in 1947, was instrumental in recommending the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state as opposed to referring the matter to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for an opinion. The resulting UNGA partition resolution emboldened the Zionist movement in Palestine to embark on a campaign of ethnic cleansing that reduced the Palestinian majority to a minority and led to the Palestinian refugee problem which is still with us 67 years later.

And that, according to the Dux of Atherton High, was constructive?

Next post: Beattie's Obsession with Israel

[*Matt Condon is the author of a 3-volume (2013-15) study of the corrupt former Qld Police Commissioner, Terry Lewis.]

1 comment:

Vacy said...

Terrific article with its valuable insights into Beattie's ego- ego is such a slut.