Mike Ahern was a prominent political figure in the state of Queensland in Australia. Including for a time serving as the leader of the Queensland chapter of the National Party of Australia. And as the state's top official in elected politics.

Ahern succeeded longtime Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, who'd resigned amidst a corruption scandal. Conversely, Ahern had garnered a reputation for integrity. But the damage to the party would prove to be difficult for him to overcome. Nonetheless, his personal celebration has been remembered.

Passed away on August 11, 2023

Mike Ahern has died at the age of 81. The cause of death was bladder cancer. Ahern had also apparently been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. He was at his home in the coastal town of Caloundra at the time. Mark Jamieson, a prominent politician in the region, released a statement following Ahern's passing. In which Jamieson, among other things, praised him for his character.

A number of other high-profile political leaders would say similar things from varying political affiliations. The current Queensland Premier said she "always had the greatest respect for" Ahern. Federal Liberal Party and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton paid tribute to Ahern's centrism and pragmatism.

Federal National Party Leader David Littleproud called him "one of [the party's] greatest."

Ahern had been active in the party, originally known as the Country Party, since his youth. He would become president of the state branch of the Young Country Party, followed by the entire national entity.

He was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of Queensland in 1968.

Ahern represented the no-longer-in-use electoral district of Landsborough. He succeeded former long-serving Premier Frank Nicklin, who'd been his mentor, in the seat.

Ahern and Bjelke-Petersen famously had an adversarial relationship. But even still, Ahern was made a whip in 1972 during the latter's tenure. He would also hold three Cabinet posts while Bjelke-Petersen was the premier.

Ascended to the role of premier

The animosity would eventually become too much, however. Bjelke-Petersen would fire Mike Ahern from the Cabinet. But as it turned out, around the same time, the then-premier was embroiled in significant controversy. He and several of his allies would be accused of corruption. An assessment that would be supported by the famed Fitzgerald Inquiry.

A party leadership election was called in which Ahern handily defeated Bjelke-Petersen. His becoming the new party leader also, as such, made him the new premier in late 1987. He also took on the role of treasurer of Queensland at the same time.

Ahern was personally popular, but many Queenslanders were sceptical of the National Party by then.

Especially after the results of the Fitzgerald Inquiry were released to the public. Polling leading up to the 1989 state election showed the Nationals in a very vulnerable position. Loyalists to Bjelke-Petersen opted to use that to their advantage. They ousted Ahern with one of their own Police Minister, Russell Cooper.

Cooper's time as premier would be short-lived. The Queensland Labour Party still thrashed the Nationals in the election, making Wayne Goss the new premier. For his part, Ahern resigned from the Assembly the following year.

His father was influential in politics

Mike Ahern was a native of Maleny, Queensland. He was educated at Downlands College in Toowoomba to the west. Followed by the University of Queensland, where his studies focused on agricultural science.

Ahern's father, Jack, was a significant player in the Queensland Country Party. The elder Ahern was a World War II veteran and a farmer. Jack held a number of local political offices. He eventually served as Frank Nicklin's campaign manager. During the 1960s, he was the president of the state chapter of the Country Party.

In 1971, Mike Ahern married Andrea Mayer. They would have five children. In 1971, he was appointed to the Order of Australia as an officer by Governor-General Michael Jeffery.