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Friday 25 December 2020

Kaye and I wish all our fellow Queenslanders a happy, safe and relaxing festive season.

Just this past week, more than 7,150 Queenslanders passed through the gates of Government House over five nightsfor the annual Christmas Lights display.

We observed children, in their hundreds, bounding about the estate, smiles leaping off their faces, totally captivated by the festive display.

Their expressions of joy and exultation said it all. They love this time of year. Our pervading challenge, as always as a State, is to translate the wonder and ambitions of all Queensland children into something worthwhile and positive.

We were stretched in this task in 2020.

At various times schools were closed. Children, parents and teachers adapted to online learning. Friends were separated. Family life was disrupted. Graduations and school formals were postponed or cancelled.

But these externally imposed strictures revealed so much positive about the Queensland character.

For their willingness to adhere to restrictions, Queenslanders – children and students especially – have been wonderful.

Such events also shed a light on the extraordinary dedication of our healthcare professionals, educators, administrators and emergency service workers, and on the grit and innovation of industry and the private sector.

As Governor, I thank and applaud them all.

For Kaye and me, the inability from March to June to keep up our pivotal State-wide presence, in person, was frustrating (although our frustration was of course overwhelmed by the distress of so many Queenslanders).

Despite the year being dominated by COVID-19, and accounting even for the forecast La Nina, we simply must not forget about the drought.

Two-thirds of the state remains officially parched. As intrastate travel restrictions eased in June, I at once headed west.

The Mayors in Goondiwindi, Charleville, Mitchell, Winton, Longreach and Birdsville hosted excellent programmes maximising my interactions with drought-affected Queenslanders.

The people in the country I met were characteristically upbeat.

They were also very disciplined and uncomplaining in accepting the COVID-19 constraints imposed by the capital.

This speaks of Kaye’s and my enduring impression of the past six and a half years of this governorship, that Queensland is a very cohesive community.

And after more than 30 years in public life – through my time as judge, Chief Justice and now Governor – we remain convinced that Queenslanders are absolutely wonderful people.

May the enduring themes of the festive season – of love, hope and redemption, grounded in the story of Christ – propel us through another year in this remarkable human journey. Merry Christmas to all, as we look forward, with optimism, to 2021.