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State Funeral For Lady Flo

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The four children of Sir Joh and Lady Flo at Bethany on Thursday morning ... Ruth Cummins, Helen Folker, Meg Noack and John Bjelke-Petersen

December 21, 2017

UPDATE: A State Funeral for Lady Bjelke-Petersen will be held at the Kingaroy Town Hall on January 4 from 1:00pm. This follows an invitation to the family from Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Federal MP Ken O’Dowd said members of the public would be shown to their seats in order of arrival until the venue is full.

* * *

EARLIER: The Bjelke-Petersen family is pressing ahead with plans for the funeral of their matriarch, Lady Flo, although there has been no word yet from the State Government whether it plans to offer the family a State Funeral.

Speaking at a media conference at ‘Bethany’ on Thursday morning, son John Bjelke-Petersen said he had heard nothing from the government but the family would accept a State Funeral if it was offered.

“She’s a big part (of this State); she’s done a lot for this State,” he said.

“But it is not the be all and end all.”

Opposition Leader and Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington said she believed the community would expect a State Funeral for Lady Flo.

Mrs Frecklington told it would be entirely appropriate and justified but the decision rested with the State Premier.

John Bjelke-Petersen said the plan at this stage was to hold the funeral in the Kingaroy Town Hall, simply to accommodate the number of people expected to come.

His mother would then be laid to rest beside his father at ‘Bethany’.

However, no date for these ceremonies has yet been fixed.

Lady Flo had 14 grandchildren and 12 great grand-children (with one on the way) ... Ashlea and her husband, grandchild Grant Cummins, from Toowoomba; oldest grandchild Anna Noack with Landon and Kahli Brown (the trio has just flown in from Indianapolis - Kahli is the oldest great-grandchild), and Karyn Bjelke-Petersen

A tribute to Lady Flo, complete with pumpkins, at the front gate of Bethany

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Ruth, Helen, John and Meg answer questions from TV reporters

John Bjelke-Petersen said his mother had enjoyed “a great life” up until the last 10 days.

Speaking to reporters, he explained what had happened to his mother.

“It happened in slow motion,” he said. “She suffered a slight bleed on her brain which affected her mobility, then she fell out of bed twice and fractured a vertebra.”

As she could not get out of bed, this then led to further complications.

John said his mother was the disciplinarian in the family and all the children knew their boundaries.

She was also the person who looked after the Barambah electorate during the years that Sir Joh was Premier, including attending the Kingaroy State High School speech night for 42 or 43 years.

John’s sister Meg Noack said her father was a “politician’s politician”.

“Mum was the people’s politician,” she said.

“It was politics without social media and focus groups.”

The press conference inevitably turned to the topic of pumpkin scones, which John described as “Pumpkin Scone Diplomacy”.

It began as a way to greet and feed the media who turned up at Bethany.

Later the scones became useful during a coal strike at Ipswich, John recalled, when miners refused to come to the surface and Sir Joh refused to go down to talk to them. Lady Flo, pumpkin scones in hand, went down and met them half-way to help resolve the dispute …

Another sister, Ruth Cummins, recalled her mother’s strong faith which still inspired her children.

“We told her to say hello to Dad for us,” she said.

The family paid special tribute to Orana, the staff at Orana and their family GP Dr Isabel Jonsson who had looked after Lady Flo.

TV crews prepare their gear at Bethany on Thursday morning

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