Saturday, May 14, 2011

People: Russ Hinze

For the younger generation, the name Hinze probably brings to mind images of model Kristy Hinze. Older Byters will recall the name as that of Russ Hinze (1919-1991), a Queensland politician who was a member of the Queensland State Government between 1966 and 1988. Between 1974 and 1987, he was Minister for Local Government and Main Roads, from 1980 to 1987, he was Minister for Racing and between 1980 and 1982, he was Minister for Police, a portfolio allocation which earned him the commonly known title of 'Minister for Everything'. Hinze resigned from State Parliament in 1988 due to his being mentioned in the Fitzgerald Inquiry conducted into the corruption scandal of the Bjelke-Petersen era of politics.

He was a large man and was dubbed the Colossus of Roads after he was made Minister for Roads. He was also unashamedly politically incorrect and bogan. It was not uncommon for him to stir his coffee with his finger, saying why get a perfectly good teaspoon wet when God gave each of us 10 fingers.

Asked about his conflict of interest in owning racehorses while acting as Minister of Racing, he replied "It's not a conflict of interests, it's a convergence of interests."

Michael Parkinson has recounted on his first trip to Queensland and ended up at the Magic Millions sitting besides Russ Hinze, who was Minister for Racing at the time. Parky described big Russ as a great host and fantastic companion, but his admiration for the Minister for Everything reached new heights by day's end.
``When I arrived he asked me if anyone had marked my card, and he then proceeded to go through the race book and marked five horses for the day,'' said Parkinson. ``They all duly won and I can tell you it was a pleasure to meet a government minister who was truly on top of his portfolio.''
According to journo Brendan O’Malley, Hinze was “the closest Queensland politics ever got to a Sir Les Patterson”.

The following item is illustrative. It comes from Barry Cohen’s book “Whitlam to Winston”:
So many stories circulated about Russ that many believed that the more bizarre were in fact apocryphal.

One story that gained circulation was of his being pulled over by a traffic cop on the outskirts of Brisbane. The policeman informed him that he had been exceeding the speed limit and was about to be booked.

Russ. It was alleged, looked at the traffic policeman quizzically, leaned over, opened the glove box and withdrew a road map of Queensland. Then he slowly extricated himself from the car, opened the map and spread it across the bonnet.

“Now,” he was reported to have said, pointing at the map, “which particular outback country town would you like to be posted to?”

It was discovered that the story was true when Russ was asked on a television current affairs program whether he had been guilty of such outrageous behaviour. He looked amazed that anyone would see anything wrong with what he had done.

“Well,” he replied, “you’d think he’d have enough bloody brains to know his own Minister, wouldn’ya?”

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