LNP learns nothing since 1989 gay invasion election

gay invasion
Geoff Pryor in the Canberra Times

Coverage of the LNP’s historic Aston by-election loss gave me deja-vu. It was like watching the Queensland National Party’s 1989 gay invasion election campaign all over again.

Truly, this mob have learned nothing. Election loss after election loss but LNP luminaries still call for the party to move further right. Any further right and they’ll be fighting Mark Latham for a taxi.

Someone remind them Katherine Deves does not represent the views of mainstream Australia. That’s why no one voted for her. Ignore the loud and nasty presence of Deves and her ilk on social media. Bots and sociopathic American trolls do not get a vote in Australian elections.

Peta Credlin of the Sky News angertainment division last night quoted former boss Tony Abbott as she urged the LNP  to move closer to Hanson, Latham, Kelly, Genghis Khan etc.

She’s kidding, right? The guy dumped from the prime ministership by his own party? The guy who then went on to lose one of the safest LNP seats in the country, a seat held by conservatives since Federation?

Yesterday, the endless rightward shuffle saw the government take a seat from the opposition for the first time in over 100 years. But still, the LNP don’t learn.

Joh Bjelke-Petersen

An interesting tidbit from last night’s commentary. A Liberal insider mentioned that the party room is hostage to the whims of LNP parliamentarians. Now that explains a lot. Despite only brief periods in power since their glory days under the tyrannical Joh Bjelke-Petersen, the Queensland LNP still cling to hope that following his playbook will one day yield success.

Even during their first election campaign after prising the despot’s grasping fingers from the levers of power, the LNP relied on his tactic of demonising minorities.

The Canberra Times reported on new Premier Russell Cooper’s battle cry.

A Labor victory would, “open the floodgates and see a sea of sodomites flooding into Queensland.”

A National Party ad showed two ‘Kings Cross homosexuals’ lisping about moving north on the election of a Goss Labor government.

A reporter questioned Cooper about payments to the ‘homosexuals’ featured in the advertisements.

“I beg your pardon? What sort of a question is that? Do you come from NSW, Kings Cross? Sounds like it.”

Joh lives!

The media consequently exposed the ‘homosexuals’ as amateur thespians – a couple of country boys recruited to act out the National Party’s idea of lisping gay stereotypes.

Innocent students of goat husbandry

Ian Warden of the Canberra Times described them as “innocent students of goat husbandry at a Toowoomba educational institute.”

Although the Nats lost their nerve and pulled the ad, they continued to threaten Queenslanders with the homosexual bogeyman. In another ad, an outraged voice-over warned of the danger of a Labor government.

“Labor even plans to make homosexuality legal.”

“That’s a floodgate the Nationals will never open,” vowed Cooper.

As Police Minister, Cooper previously ordered a police crackdown on gays. Cops arrested a gay couple in the minister’s hometown of Roma and another on the Gold Coast.

In an infamous case prosecuted in Mitchell, just down the road from Roma, one gay man actually went to jail in the dying days of the regime for private, consenting, adult same-sex acts.

However, times were changing. A magistrate dismissed the Gold Coast complaint as ‘frivolous’. One of the prosecuted men, Doug McAllan, went public, mocking Cooper’s ‘fixation’ with homosexuality. Cooper’s Labor opponent Wayne Goss began to ridicule him as a ‘gaybuster’. The major churches released a statement warning Queensland voters to ignore tactics designed to distract them from the government’s corruption.

The gay invasion: Nats should have checked closer to home

Ironically, while Cooper fumed about a homosexual invasion, it seemed everyone in the world except him knew one of his senior staff members was gay.

Of course, Russ Hinze, Joh’s ‘Minister for Everything’, knowingly employed a gay man as his press secretary for years. That, despite Hinze’s willingness to wax lyrical on homosexual depravity when it suited his political purpose.

Also, those in the know joked about the proximity of National Party HQ Bjelke-Petersen House to one of Brisbane’s main gay bars, the Alliance Hotel.

Journalist Andrew Fraser bartended at the Alliance while a uni student and remembered the fun times when the finish of a National Party meeting coincided with the bar’s closure.

“On one corner, a collection of National Party heavies, on the other, a collection of moustached men, clad mainly in leather, touching each other on the bottom and camping it up for their unexpected audience.”

Andrew Fraser recalled jokes resulting from the National Party’s tendency to gift each other knighthoods.

Alliance regular Ken, more commonly known as Gladys, called out, “Oh look. They’re all knights on that side and we’re all queens on this side.”

While many in Queensland’s resilient LGBTIQ communities managed to cope with the persecution of Joh’s autocratic regime through dark humour, others suffered terribly.

Nev Warburton, former Opposition Leader and later a minister in the Goss government, said it best.

“Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen was a leader who wrecked, without sympathy, the lives of too many decent Queenslanders, for short-term political ends.”

It appeared Cooper intended to run a government just as reactionary, if not worse, than Joh’s.

Early in the campaign, he agreed with a call from the extreme right-wing Logos Foundation, based in Toowoomba, to bring back hanging.

The homosexual invasion in provincial Queensland: Goombungee

The National Party did not intend their anti-gay advertising for a city audience. They meant it for rural and provincial areas where, under the gerrymander, votes counted for much more.

Despite the mockery their overblown rhetoric inspired in Brisbane, they trusted it to round up votes outside the southeast corner.

Goombungee, outside of Toowoomba, won four Tidy Town awards in the late 70s – early 80s. However, the tidy people apparently died or left town, because the little town notched up no further wins.

Homosexual invasion
Warming up the crowd at an election rally in Goombungee. Image: Geoff Pryor, The Canberra Times

During the 1989 election campaign, the local National Party MP held a rally on the main street. Local National Party president Alex Robertson regaled the crowd with predictions that a future Goss government would build a Berlin-like wall through Brisbane but with “holes in it to let the homosexuals through.”

A GLORY hole, Alex. It’s called a GLORY hole!

Across the length and breadth of Queensland, the Nationals poofter-bashed at every opportunity.

The gay invasion in provincial Queensland: Cairns

I moved to Cairns in late 1987. Besides wildlife shows, I worked part-time compering strip shows. Let me now confess, that not all of those shows were completely compliant with the laws of that time. Or, indeed, of any time.

One notable show took place at a football clubhouse in an isolated part of town. The surrounding sporting fields and bushland ensured no neighbours or passing strangers would see or hear what went on.

I arrived at the venue with the topless waitresses and the strippers. Oh… and the sex worker who would give the night’s raffle winner the time of his life on a pool table at the end of the show. The climax of the evening – so to speak.

Porn, gambling, obscenity, and prostitution

X-rated porn showed on huge screens. You kids today could never understand the excitement generated by porn in an era when the government banned even depictions of nudity.

Those punters able to drag their eyes from the enormous thrusting genitalia on the big screen gathered at green baize tables. There, they gambled on poker, roulette and other games of chance.

In the days before responsible service of alcohol and similar modern inconveniences, we timed the entertainment at such events to maximise grog sales.

So, during the course of the evening, I liaised with the only sober person present, the very pleasant local businessman who organised the whole shebang.

A couple of months later, I saw him again – on television – in a National Party election advertisement.

This thoroughly decent man was now the National Party candidate for the state seat of Cairns.

He walked towards the camera with students swarming around him as they emerged from Cairns High at the end of a day’s schooling.

And he looked into that camera and warned of the waves of homosexuality and associated depravity that would submerge Cairns in the event of a Labor election win.

Furious, I rang an acquaintance, the Cairns correspondent of the Australian newspaper.

She rang him, and being an honest and decent man, he refused to lie.

She printed the story and he lost the election. In truth, he likely would have lost anyway, but it was nice to know that at least one National Party candidate paid even a small price for their hypocrisy.

The election

At the election held on 2 December 1989, a landslide victory handed power to the Goss Labor Government. That government decriminalised homosexuality soon after.

But the Nats, now the most influential faction in Queensland’s LNP, still desperately want to wind back the clock. Their influence on the Federal Liberals condemns the party to a very long spell in opposition, or worse.

The homosexual invasion: for political tragics, here’s an hour of highlights of the ABC’s 1989 Queensland State Election night coverage.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at destinyr@qnews.com.au.

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