OPINION: Premier Joh and my first lesson in politics

"THAT Premier Joh is a real peanut." It was 1984 and, on my first day on the job as an apprentice fitter, I was trying desperately to "fit" in.

To my genuine surprise I wasn't carried around the workshop at shoulder height by cheering tradesmen. Instead, the elder statesman of the mechanical group, TC, smiled and asked quietly, "And why would you say that?"

At this point, several workers picked up their toolboxes and exited the shed; the smarter villagers had heard the warning rumble of the nearby volcano.

"Well, a bloke down the pub…" I stammered as the remaining villagers fled.

The volcano erupted.

"A bloke down the pub? Some drunken expert on politics, horse racing and women! Don't come in here spouting half-baked rubbish. Facts, boy. Facts! Your opinions are worthless. Right, tomorrow morning you'll come in here and tell me three good things Premier Joh has done for Queensland. Now, get out of my sight."

The next morning, I nervously announced, "Rail lines to the coal mines. Boosting Queensland's alumina industry, and rigging the voting system."

TC rubbed his eyes and sighed, "Well, that's a start".

Encouraged, I asked, "Do you like Joh?" That earnt me a clip around the ear; the first of many.

"No. But 38% of Queenslanders do and half-truths, insults or mockery will not win over the swinging voters we need to oust the old goat. Facts and calm logic are the tools you'll learn to use, boy."

He looked at me again and added, "Possibly."

TC eventually taught me a trade, but shortened his life considerably trying to educate me politically. Nowadays, as I watch the spin, lies and abuse that pass for political debate, I wonder what my old mentor/tormentor would have made of the latest batch of political peanuts.

Greg Bray blogs at http://www.gregbraywriter.wordpress.com. Find him on Facebook: Greg Bray - Writer.