Thu. Oct 5th, 2023

Former Queensland Premier Mike Ahern, a dedicated advocate for the betterment of his constituents, has passed away at the age of 81 after bravely confronting cancer. Surrounded by his devoted wife and five children, Ahern peacefully breathed his last at his Caloundra residence.

A statement from his family expressed, “Mike held a fervent dedication to enhancing the lives of all Queenslanders. He fearlessly stood against prevailing opinions when it meant advancing the greater good of the populace. A poignant example of this was his resolute stance to safeguard the Indigenous community from the AIDS virus during his tenure as Health Minister in the 1980s.”

“Despite opposition from his contemporaries, he took a bold step to instigate blood tests within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, effectively thwarting an epidemic and saving numerous lives,” the family acknowledged.

Throughout his political career, Ahern demonstrated exemplary leadership, particularly evident when he assumed the role of Premier during the tumultuous period of the Fitzgerald report. His family emphasized, “Mike’s sense of accomplishment always stemmed from his conviction that he had improved the state’s conditions for all its citizens. He was an exceptional father – affectionate, benevolent, and endowed with a vibrant sense of humor. His towering stature was matched only by the size of his heart, and he served as an unparalleled role model for us all.”

His family hailed his greatest triumph as being a devoted husband for 52 years, a testament to an unwavering and enduring love. “A love that remained steadfast till the very end,” they affirmed. “Mike often reflected on his time as Queensland’s Premier, underscoring his commitment to ‘cleaning up corruption within the state.’ Mike, your mission is accomplished.”

Born in 1942 in the rural Sunshine Coast town of Maleny, Ahern hailed from a family deeply rooted in local politics, with his father eventually assuming the presidency of the Country Party, now recognized as the National Party. Ahern’s own engagement in political activities commenced during his university days at the University of Queensland, where he became a member of the Young Country Party. In 1968, at the age of 25, he secured the position of Member for Landsborough.

Ahern’s opportunity to ascend to the position of Premier arose in the late 1980s, following the waning of then-Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s career due to the ill-fated “Joh for Canberra” campaign. The damning Fitzgerald inquiry, delving into police corruption involving illicit gambling and prostitution, further strained the government’s standing. Bjelke-Petersen declared his intention to step down on the 8th of August, 1988, following the Expo 88 event that propelled Brisbane onto the global stage. Nonetheless, the cabinet did not delay the transition.”

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