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Family & Friends Farewell Flo

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Two of Lady Flo's daughters, Helen Folker, left, and Meg Noack, right, with their aunt, Margaret Gilmour, a much-loved younger sister of Lady Bjelke-Petersen

The Queenslanders for a Constitutional Monarchy were present at the funeral, as was PM Malcolm Turnbull, the former head of the Australian Republican Movement

January 4, 2017

Lady Bjelke-Petersen was described as “a champion for rural women”, “her own person” and part of a “formidable political pairing” at her State Funeral held in Kingaroy on Thursday.

The crowd was less than that which turned out for Sir Joh’s funeral in March 2005, but was still an enormous tribute to a woman who many South Burnett residents regarded as their “local MP” while Sir Joh was Premier.

Lady Flo – as she was affectionately known by just about everyone – died on December 20 at Orana.

Current and former politicians were among the large crowd of mourners who packed into the Town Hall and took shelter from the heat under marquees erected outside.

The list of dignitaries was headed by Group Captain Simon Sauer AM CSC, Honourary Aide-de-Camp representing the Governor-General.

More recognisable to the crowd watching as the official cars pulled up were Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk … and Pauline Hanson, who was surrounded by a number of One Nation representatives as she strolled across Glendon Street.

The large media contingent rushed forward when the white cowboy hat of Member for Kennedy Bob Katter appeared.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington, South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell, former Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and former Kingaroy Mayor Roger Nunn were also in attendance, as were councillors and former councillors.

Other MPs spotted by – and we’re sure we’ve missed a few – included Member for Maranoa David Littleproud, former Premier Rob Borbidge, Member for Gympie Trevor Perrett, former Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg, Member for Gold Coast David Crisafulli, Senator Bridget McKenzie, Senator Matt Canavan and Senator James McGrath …

Rev Mark Doecke, lead pastor at the South Burnett Lutheran Parish, conducted the service.

He highlighted several items of memorabilia which were carried into the Town Hall by family members as they processed down the centre aisle: Lady Flo’s hymn book, her Bible, a plate of pumpkin scones and a packet of Cherry Ripes.

The four children of Lady Flo took turns at reading the obituary, which detailed their mother’s career and strong Christian faith.

“She was a true woman of strength centred around her faith, her family and her community,” daughter Meg Noack read.

“Her leadership and care, proven so often in her public life, was brought to bear when it mattered most in her own home, and we will forever be grateful.”

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce then took the microphone to deliver a tribute to Lady Flo.

“She was her own person in Canberra,” he said.

He said she accepted people for what they were, but never shied away from her own beliefs.

“She didn’t just read a Bible, she wore it out,” he joked.

Mr Joyce also admitted he had spoken to Lady Flo about crossing the floor in Parliament.

“She said you’ve got to be brave enough to do what is right, but you also have to be mature enough to accept the consequences,” he said.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Lady Flo had “helped and encouraged many more Queenslanders than Lady Flo herself could have ever known”.

“Joh and Flo would become a loving couple and make a formidable political pairing,” she said.

“Indeed, their first dinner date was at Parliament House – during a Parliamentary sitting week.

“After their wedding in 1952 – as they honeymooned in New Zealand – Flo, not Joh, received an invitation to open a fete in Murgon in her new husband’s electorate.

“It seems the people of the South Burnett recognised early on that they were getting two Bjelke-Petersens for the price of one.”

Ms Palaszczuk said she would seek permission from the Bjelke-Petersen family to dedicate part of the new 66-bed Kingaroy Hospital in Lady Flo’s honour.

Related articles:

Sam, Karyn, John and Grace Bjelke-Petersen ... Grace made a special card for her grandmother which was placed with the memorabilia

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull arrives ...

... as does Federal MP Bob Katter

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

Qld Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington

The One Nation contingent ... party leader Senator Pauline Hanson with Queensland leader and former MP Steve Dickson, (at rear), West Australian MP Robin Scott, former Senator Malcolm Roberts, (at rear), and Senator Brian Burston

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Senator Bridget McKenzie

Young Nationals Vice-President Damien Tessmann and Senator James McGrath

Member for Gympie Tony Perrett and former Member for Callide Jeff Seeney

Lyn and Warren Truss ... Warren was Deputy PM from 2013 to 2016

A proud contingent from St John's Lutheran School ... Lady Flo's daughter, Helen Folker, is principal at the school

Four early birds eager to get a good seat ... Anne McDonald, Brighton; Elizabeth McLeod, Sandgate; Elaine Madill, Wondai; and Jessie Jenkins, Kingaroy

Former Queensland Premier Rob Borbidge with wife Jenny

Former Senator Bill O'Chee and his son Rory chat with Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff

Lawyer and academic Noel Pearson with St Peter's Lutheran College head Tim Kotzur

Helen Folker, right, greets Dr Isabelle Jonsson, who cared for Sir Joh and Flo Bjelke-Petersen

St John's Lutheran School students Callum Francis, 12, and his sister Bronwyn, 10, patiently waited in the queue to enter the Town Hall

Mourners queue on the steps of the Kingaroy Town Hall before being seated inside

South Burnett councillors Roz Frohloff and Terry Fleischfresser

Council officer Kerri Le Du with former Kingaroy Mayor Roger Nunn

Sky News reporter Jackson Williams interviews Member for Maranoa David Littleproud

SES South Burnett North Local Controller Alan Sage and South Burnett South Local Controller Arthur Dawson had crews of volunteers working all over Kingaroy, manning street corners and barricades

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull delivers a prayer at the funeral service

Bjelke-Petersen family members gather around the rear of the hearse as a farewell prayer is said for Lady Bjelke-Petersen

Official guests join members of the public outside the Kingaroy Town Hall as the hearse departs; moments later the crowd broke into spontaneous applause

A police motorbike heads the funeral cortege away from the town hall ... on foot for the start of the journey were South Burnett Lutheran Parish pastor Rev Mark Doecke, Bishop Emeritus Rev Noel Noack, and Orana chaplain Rev Michael Braunberger

The hearse heads down Glendon Street ... Lady Bjelke-Petersen will be interred in a private ceremony at Bethany

Marquees were erected on the Town Hall Forecourt lawn and on the northern side of the hall to accommodate the crowd ... loudspeakers and TV screens carried the service outside

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One Response to Family & Friends Farewell Flo

  1. John Box

    Thank you SBOnline for the excellent coverage of Lady Flo’s funeral. Especially for those of us who couldn’t be home to attend.

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