Russell Cooper

Interviewed by
Danielle Miller & Rae Wear
Jul 18 2011
Russell Cooper
Time Summary Keywords
00:00:15 Russell Cooper describes his early childhood in Brisbane, schooling in Toowoomba and Parramatta (NSW) and his time as a jackeroo. He moved to the family property in Texas and then to his own place in Wallumbilla where he stayed until his retirement.
00:02:39 Russell Cooper details his strong interest in politics from a young age and the influence of his family. He notes his twelve years in local politics and his subsequent move into state politics. He describes the turbulent period he entered politics with the split between the Liberals and Nationals. Ken Tomkins, Liberal-National Party split, Terry White
00:07:06 Russell Cooper describes the Labor Party at the time he entered parliament. He describes his involvement with his party when he joined parliament and the learning process that introduced him to understanding policy formation and the workings of parliament. He notes that he was largely thrown in at the deep end. backbench
00:10:55 Russell Cooper recalls his maiden speech when he was spoken to by Kevin Hooper. He notes the good relationships he had with members of parliament not in his party and recalls an anecdote attributed to Margaret Thatcher. Kevin Hooper, maiden speech
00:12:45 Russell Cooper notes the changing attitude towards women parliamentarians as more women began to become members. women
00:13:57 Russell Cooper discusses his impression of the Joh for Canberra campaign. He notes all the support that came from around Australia and the conferences that rallied support. He describes how the campaign died out. He notes his good relationship with the federal National Party, although he states they always helped if there was something in it for them. Bill Gunn, Fitzgerald Inquiry, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Joh for Canberra
00:17:12 Russell Cooper discusses the lead up to the Fitzgerald Inquiry and that the revelations in the media that were not much of a shock to him. Fitzgerald Inquiry
00:18:36 Russell Cooper describes the period when Joh Bjelke-Petersen was deposed as Premier. He describes the disagreements within the National Party before this, the removal of five ministers by Joh Bjelke-Petersen and the election of Mike Ahern. He discusses the flow-on impact this had on grass roots supporters of the National Party, and its subsequent roots in One Nation. Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Mike Ahern, One Nation
00:22:33 Russell Cooper describes the end of the Bjelke-Petersen era and his experience from within the party. He describes the beginning of the Ahern Government and the stability it created in the National Party. Ahern Government 1987-89, Bjelke-Petersen Government 1968-87, World's Tallest Building
00:23:47 Russell Cooper describes receiving the corrective services ministry and the immediate reforms he encouraged. He recalls Mike Ahern wanting the black hole at Boggo Road gaol shut. He tells of his decision to shut the black hole and eventually the prison. He notes the decision behind the privatisation of prisons. Boggo Road Gaol, Corrective Services, Kennedy Report, privatisation, Tom Barton
00:28:26 Russell Cooper describes the lack of input into policy creation by public servants at the time. He describes his contact with some of the prisoners he met while minister and relates a story about Carl Mengler. Kennedy Report, Mike Ahern, prisons
00:33:49 Russell Cooper describes the support he received from Premier Mike Ahern while he was Minister for Corrective Services. He describes some of the difficult experiences in his relationship with Ahern, in particular the lack of strength of Ahern as a leader which motivated him to challenge. He describes the support he received when he challenged for leadership. gun laws, leadership, Mike Ahern
00:37:02 Russell Cooper describes his time in Police and his role in Emergency Services. He notes the resilience that is needed to be in politics and his opinion that you must not cry. Emergency Services, Police
00:39:40 Russell Cooper relates an incident when he stayed in the parliamentary family annex with his daughters and a National Party member spread the rumour that he had prostitutes in his rooms. Rob Borbidge, Robert Sparkes
00:45:02 Russell Cooper discusses the importance of Robert Sparkes to the National Party. Robert Sparkes
00:45:55 Russell Cooper discusses his role as Premier and Treasurer for seventy-three days. He notes the important developments in that time, in particular the Fitzgerald Report and how he responded to its recommendations. He describes his surprise at some of the broader recommendations from Fitzgerald. He discusses some of the other issues in the short period he was Premier. He notes his reliance on the department when he became Treasurer. Criminal Justice Commission, Fitzgerald Inquiry
00:50:37 Russell Cooper describes the 1989 election campaign and describes the reaction to the campaign launch. 1989 election, campaign strategy
00:53:36 Russell Cooper describes the move to Opposition and the need to refresh the party. He describes his removal as Opposition leader after the travel rorts affair. He gives details on his trip to Hamilton Island and his subsequent confrontation with the CJC. Criminal Justice Commission, leadership, Max Bingham, media, Opposition, travel rorts
00:59:30 Russell Cooper describes returning to power in the Borbidge Government. He details his experience of the affair surrounding the memoranda of understanding with the police union. Borbidge Government 1996-98, Carruthers Inquiry, police union
01:03:55 Russell Cooper discusses his relationship with the CJC after the memoranda of understanding affair. Bob Gotterson, Brendan Butler, Criminal Justice Commission, Kenneth Carruthers, Kevin Ryan, Peter Connolly, police union
01:07:09 Russell Cooper describes the time of the Borbidge Government. He tells of his experience of the Port Arthur massacre and gun laws in Queensland. He goes on to note how this led to the One Nation phenomena. Borbidge Government 1996-98, gun laws, John Howard, One Nation, Pauline Hanson, Port Arthur massacre
01:11:41 Russell Cooper talks about gun laws and his meeting with John Howard where he convinced him to keep some guns for sport. gun laws, John Howard, Michael Diamond, One Nation, Pauline Hanson
01:14:24 Russell Cooper describes the relationship between the parties as a coalition government. Coalition, gun laws, Terry O'Gorman, Tom Barton
01:17:41 Russell Cooper describes the political climate around the 1998 election. He notes the effect caused by gun laws and economic rationalism. economic rationalism, gun laws, One Nation
01:18:11 Russell Cooper describes some of the significant people he met in Queensland. He also describes his role in Expo '88. Expo 88
01:19:57 Russell Cooper describes the role of premier and the leadership charasteristics that are needed. leadership
01:22:05 Russell Cooper discusses the increased workload of being premier and how to manage political and personal life. In his opinion making full use of the cabinet is important. Cabinet, Mike Ahern
01:23:45 Russell Cooper reflects on the possible regrets from his time in politics. He notes that he could have resigned from the police ministry before implementing the gun laws. He also notes that possibly he shouldn't have challenged Mike Ahern. And he notes the handling of the Memorandum of Understanding issue. gun laws, leadership
01:24:56 Russell Cooper describes his work in the corrections portfolio as his greatest achievements. He also notes that gun laws and police powers laws were challenges at the time. Corrective Services, gun laws, Police
01:25:53 Russell Cooper describes his long history of campaigning and how this has changed. He describes the differences between camapaiging in his electorate compared to campaigning on issues decided upon by the party. He notes the importance of grass roots influence upon National Party policy creation. campaign strategy
01:28:12 Russell Cooper describes his relationship with directors general and how they were appointed. He describes the changes to the ministry he made when he was premier. directors general
01:30:25 Interview ends.