Peter Douglas Beattie AC (born 18 November 1952) is a former
Australian politician who served as the 36th Premier of Queensland
from 1998 to 2007 and Leader of the
Australian Labor Party
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.
Before retiring in 2007, he mentored 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.
In February 2018 he was named Chairman of the Australian Rugby League
1 Early life and education
2 Pre-parliamentary career
3 Early parliamentary career (1989-1996)
4 Premier (1998-2007)
4.1 2004 state election
Queensland Health crisis
4.3 2006 state election
6 Federal politics
7 Other matters
8 In the media
8.1 Media commentary career
10 Personal life
12 External links
Early life and education
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
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
In 1974, he joined the Australian 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
In the 1980 federal election, Beattie was the Labor candidate for the
Division of Ryan
Division of Ryan and was defeated by the Liberal incumbent
John Moore, but achieving a 3 percent two party preferred swing in the
Beattie became involved in the campaign led by Dr Denis Murphy to
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
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, and had been
involved in the fight against the Bjelke-Petersen government.
Early parliamentary career (1989-1996)
At the 1989 election Beattie was elected to the
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. His first act as Opposition
leader was to move a motion in Parliament preventing the new Coalition
Rob Borbidge from calling an early election. Labor
feared that an early election could give the
Coalition an outright
majority. The motion carried.
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 leakage of
Coalition preferences. The
balance of power rested with two independents,
Peter Wellington and
Liz Cunningham, and the 11 One Nation MPs. Labor needed the support of
only one crossbencher to make Beattie premier, while the Coalition
needed them all for Borbidge to stay in office. Wellington announced
his support for Labor, allowing Beattie to form a minority government.
A few months later, Charles Rappolt, the One Nation member for
Mulgrave, abruptly resigned. Labor's Warren Pitt, who had held the
seat from 1989 to 1995, won the ensuing by-election, giving Beattie a
majority in his own right. Pitt would have retaken his old seat a few
months earlier, if not for
Coalition preferences leaking to Rappolt.
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, had been engaged in
breaches of the Electoral Act by falsely enrolling people to boost
their faction's strength in internal party ballots. As well a former
State Secretary and newly elected MP Mike Kaiser, and a senior adviser
to Wayne Goss— had been falsely enrolled some 16 years earlier as
part of a factional battle. Beattie acted swiftly, forcing a number of
MPs to quit politics and forcing Elder to resign as Deputy Premier. In
the ensuing campaign, Beattie claimed a Labor win would ensure stable
government. He argued the only alternative was a
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. 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
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".
2004 state election
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
Queensland Health crisis
In the latter part of 2005, Beattie faced potentially his most serious
political crisis: the revelations and inquiries into
and the Bundaberg public hospital after Jayant Patel, an Indian-born
surgeon who performed several botched operations, some of which
resulted in death, fled the country to the United States, where he had
previously been struck off the register. Amid the controversy, the
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.
Newspoll in late 2005 showed support for Labor in
six percentage points to 50 per cent, an all-time low since Beattie
became Premier. Following the retirement of the Premier of New South
Bob Carr in 2005, Beattie became the longest-serving state
Premier among his contemporaries.
2006 state election
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.
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. The campaign of Quinn's replacement
Bruce Flegg was characterized by inexperience and indecisiveness
and lacked an organised, professional approach. 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
William Forgan Smith (1932–1942), the Country Party's Frank Nicklin
(1957–1968) and National Party Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen
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. The Labor caucus
Anna Bligh as its leader on 12 September. 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.
In late May 2010 Beattie announced that he was retiring early from his
position as Queensland's Los Angeles-based trade and investment
commissioner. In June 2010 it was announced that he had accepted a
Clemson University in South Carolina. On 24 August
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.
Beattie with Kevin Rudd, the then-Prime Minister of Australia, during
his unsuccessful campaign for the
Division of Forde
Division of Forde at the 2013
Beattie's popularity often led to speculation that he would enter
national politics, 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". On announcing his retirement he again ruled out a
move to federal politics, saying that he would, politically speaking,
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.
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.
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. 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
Beattie's self-description as a "media tart" 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
President for Life Mbeattie".
The controversy over the performance of the government-owned
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
Media commentary career
Sky News Live
Sky News Live as a commentator across multiple programs
in 2015. Beattie began co-hosting his own program with Peter Reith
in April 2016, as a replacement format for Richo while that program
was put into hiatus following the ill-health of host Graham
On 1 January 2001, Beattie was awarded the
Centenary Medal for his
contribution to Queensland. On 11 June 2012, Beattie was named a
Companion of the Order of Australia
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."
Peter is married to Heather Beattie, a former professor of nursing.
Mrs Beattie was briefly involved in
Brisbane City Council politics in
her own capacity in 2012. Mr and Mrs Beattie have three adult
children, Larissa, Denis and Matthew Beattie. He is an Anglican; and,
his wife is the daughter of an Anglican clergyman.
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^ a b
^ "Disruptive influences - Griffith Review". Griffith Review.
^ a b Green, Antony.
Queensland election preview. Australian
Broadcasting Corporation, 2012-01-25.
Queensland Premier to receive UQ honour - University of Queensland,
7 Dec 2003
^ "Bulletproof Beattie cruises to fourth victory in a row". Sydney
Morning Herald. 10 September 2006.
^ "Party changes renew Qld election speculation". ABC News. 8 August
^ "Nothing great about debate or the campaign". The Australian. 9
September 2006. Archived from the original on 1 September 2007.
- Media clipping re-published by
Queensland Media Club
^ 'Beattie retires as Qld Premier', ABC News online, 10 September
^ 'Anna Bligh: first woman to be
Queensland Premier' Archived 6 July
2011 at the Wayback Machine., Australian Labor Party, retrieved 12
^ The Australian (2008). Former
Queensland premier Peter Beattie
backflips into government's US trade post. Retrieved 2 August 2009.
^ Walker, Jamie (28 May 2010). "
Peter Beattie bows out, with praise
for Julia Gillard". The Australian.
^ Mitchell, Peter (23 June 2010). "New job for
Peter Beattie in
Sydney Morning Herald.
^ Minister for Innovation (2011). Buy Australian at Home and Abroad
Archived 4 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved 25 August
Peter Beattie Preparing To Leap Into Federal Politics?". The
Sydney Morning Herald. 2 July 2005. Retrieved 4 August 2007.
^ Dickie, Phil (8 February 2004). "Man of the people magic".
Melbourne: The Age.
^ Cosima Marriner (11 September 2007). "Beattie quits and promises to
disappear". Melbourne: The Age.
^ "Making A Difference" Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback
Machine. - listing on publisher Gleebooks' website
^ Beattie an unashamed 'media tart' - AM Archive, ABC Local Radio,
Thursday, 11 May 2000
^ Knox, David (20 February 2015). "
Peter Beattie joins SKY News". TV
Tonight. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
^ Davidson, Darren (4 April 2016). "Mark Latham joins Alan Jones on
Sky News weekly show". The Australian. Retrieved 20 April
2016. (subscription required)
^ "Peter Beattie". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Retrieved 11 June 2012.
^ "Companion (AC) in the General Division of the Order of
The Queen's Birthday 2012 Honours Lists" (PDF). Official Secretary to
the Governor-General of Australia. 11 June 2012. p. 1. Archived
from the original (PDF) on 16 June 2012.
Beattie won his fourth term in office, at a state election held on
Saturday, 9 September 2006.
Beattie's Collection: includes medals, photographs and
papers[permanent dead link] This collection is held by John Oxley
Library, State Library of Queensland
Premier of Queensland
Treasurer of Queensland
Minister for Trade
Minister for Trade
Minister for State Development
Leader of the Opposition in Queensland
Party political offices
Leader of the Labor Party in Queensland
Parliament of Queensland
Premiers of Queensland
Treasurers of Queensland
Keith De Lacy
Leaders of the Labor Party in Queensland