The Honourable Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen



Each quarter century, on the occasion of its jubilee celebrations, the University of Queensland has recognised the contribution to education and to cultural activities of the executive and legislative arms of Government by the award of an honorary degree to the Premier of the State. At each earlier jubilee, an honorary degree was conferred early in the career of the Premier. Each recipient went on to create an individual record for length of service in the Premiership.

On this occasion, the University recognises the contributions of a Premier whose period of service has far surpassed those of the earlier premiers who were recipients of this award. Sir Joh, in diverse ways, has had a major impact on the development of this State and on the political life of Australia. While best known as a successful politician, it is important to note his early involvement with the mechanisation of agriculture, including his imaginative use of large machinery and his pioneering work in aerial seeding and spraying.

As a member of the Legislative Assembly since 1947, a member of Cabinet since 1963, and Premier of Queensland since 1968, Sir Joh has shown himself to be imaginative in policy-making, perceptive in his assessment of policy options, and sceptical of decisions based principally on precedent or on orthodoxy - characteristics which are themselves intrinsic to university life.

During his Premiership, Queensland has entered into an era of unprecedented economic development. New towns have been created, hundreds of miles of railways have been built, and both population and capital have been attracted to the State. Neither have education and the arts been neglected. An early example was the creation of Griffith University; more recently the development of the magnificent Queensland Cultural Centre.

The Commonwealth Government's assumption in 1974 of responsibility for university funding has not meant the end of State support for the University of Queensland. The present State Government provided nearly two million dollars to clad the Michie Building with Helidon freestone and to complete the cloister in the Great Court. Substantial sums have been made available to provide continuing support for the Solar Energy Research Centre and other innovative developments. State Cabinet also led the way with the first and most generous donation to inaugurate the University of Queensland Foundation.

The qualities which have enabled Sir Joh to become Queensland's longest-serving Premier include courage, determination and unrelenting hard work. He has never wavered in his advocacy of the rights of this State, never declined to tackle difficult and unpopular problems, and never hesitated to enunciate his beliefs and values.

Mr Chancellor, I present to you The Honourable Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen, Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, Premier and Treasurer of Queensland, for the award of the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, to which he has been admitted by the Senate of the University of Queensland.


Doctor of Laws honoris causa