Buyers of items owned by controversial Queensland politician Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen may not be able to take them out of Australia due to their historical value.
The estate of the Sunshine State’s longest-serving premier and his wife, Lady Florence, will go up for auction on Tuesday, with more than 800 pieces on offer.
Lloyds Auctions said it had received thousands of bids for the items already, with interest from across the Tasman in Sir Joh’s native New Zealand.
However, the federal government alerted auctioneers at the weekend that many items for sale might not be allowed to leave the country due to their historical significance.
Lloyds chief operating officer Lee Hames said the government was protecting Australia’s history for its future.
“The items in this auction tell many important stories about Australia’s history and in particularly Queensland’s growth and how it came to be the state it is today, so we applaud the government for reaching out to protect it’s history.”
Sir Joh became premier in 1968 and led the Country Party then National Party government for 19 years. He was knighted in 1984.
He was a controversial political figure. He attracted strong support from conservative supporters who praised his tough “law and order” stance and his government’s infrastructure plans, while critics railed against his authoritarian style and later revelations of institutional corruption.
Sir Joh retired from politics in 1987 following damaging findings from the Fitzgerald inquiry into police corruption. He died in 2005 aged 94.
Lady Flo also served in politics, spending 12 years as a Queensland senator. She died in 2017 aged 97.
Their children are selling the collection, which has been held at the Bjelke-Petersens’ home, Bethany, near Kingaroy.
Among the items up for grabs include Lady Flo’s black leather Gucci bag and white gold Mikimoto pearl earrings and Sir Joh’s Stetson Swagger hat and art collection, including original portraits of the controversial politician by Australian artists William Dargie and Pro Hart.
Politics buffs might be interested in the hand-signed campaign posters and Sir Joh’s personal desk and briefcase.
A ceramic spoon inscribed with Lady Flo’s famous pumpkin scone recipe will also go on sale.
The prized item of the night is predicted to be a signed schedule from a 1969 luncheon to honour the successful moon landing, attended by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, and former prime minister John Gorton.