2015 Royal Queensland Show Official Opening
A speech delivered by His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC as Administrator of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia: Thank you, Mr President. I acknowledge all our distinguished guests here tonight, and particularly all the enthusiastic show-goers, as we gather on the lands traditionally tended by the Turrbal and Jagera peoples, for whom I at once also express great respect.
Kaye and I are delighted to join you this evening at the twenty-fifteen Royal Queensland Show.
I am particularly pleased that this official opening coincides with a period in which Queenslanders are honoured their Governor is Administrator of the Commonwealth, in the absence overseas of the Governor-General.
That is why the Standard of the Governor-General flies proudly over main arena today.
Now it is fitting, in this centenary year of Gallipoli, that I begin by thanking the Australian Federation Guard and the Australian Army Band Brisbane for their salute.
Their presence here tonight, and their splendid dress and bearing, remind us of the service and sacrifice of Australia’s armed forces over more than a century; and that service and sacrifice are, lest we forget, enduring, with many Queenslanders currently under deployment overseas. Our thoughts must be with them, and their families.
I thank also the Police Mounted Unit for providing such a wonderful ceremonial escort. These horses are not, by the way, just ornamental: they are highly trained operational units and it is a privilege to have their support, and the support of the fine police officers who lead them.
The approach of Ekka time in Brisbane is usually signalled, as it was for a time this year, by the onset of the first chilly westerlies whistling down Brisbane streets – though we have generally been spared them so far, and the forecast is good.
We have however been assured of changes to the skyline of Bowen Hills as the Sideshow Alley rides have gone up, and before we knew it, broad-brimmed hats made their appearance in Brisbane’s streets and the showgrounds have been filled with the distinctive Ekka aromas of freshly cut wood, warm fairy floss, and livestock.
The enormous affection felt by Queenslanders for the Ekka has made it a Brisbane icon, a core part of Brisbane’s identity, for almost 140 years.
The Show has been cancelled only twice over its long history – once during a deadly influenza epidemic in 1919, and once because of the exigencies of World War Two.
In other words, those who plan and run the Ekka, and who exhibit and compete in it, have always been a dedicated and resilient group of Queenslanders.
For those of us from certain generations, the Ekka is a precious and vivid piece of our childhoods. Those of us with young children or, in the case of Kaye and me, young grandchildren, take great delight in seeing them discover anew the joys of the Show we have for so long known so well.
The Show’s importance grows every year as a vital connection between city and country. It is an opportunity, not only to have great fun, but also to understand the enormous contribution made to our lives and lifestyles by our State’s agricultural and pastoral industries.
It is our chance to appreciate how much we owe to the big-hearted Queenslanders in the far-flung regional areas of the State.
These great Queenslanders have warmly welcomed Kaye and me wherever we have travelled over the last 12 months. It has been an absolute privilege for us to meet with them.
It is now more important than ever that we support them, and keep them in our thoughts, as the current drought continues to put enormous strain on their livelihoods, and their resilience.
These remarkable fellow Queenslanders appear to survive just on hard work and hope. Yet they are essential to the very psyche of this State. We must not forget them, but support them, however we can.
Queenslanders are by nature big hearted people, supporting and caring for each other. With the plight in the West, that spirit of compassion and generosity now matters more than ever.
I thank the RNA Executive, Council, members and staff led by the able Mr Brendan Christou, for their dedication to keeping the Show fresh while retaining its essential character. The more permanent changes to the surrounding skyline, more evident even than last year, demonstrate the progress of their longer-term strategies to ensure a long and successful future for the Ekka.
I thank the marshals and judges, ringside commentators, exhibitors, competitors, entertainers and sponsors who make the show possible. Many of them are volunteers: volunteers are really the heart and soul of the Ekka.
Kaye and I thank you, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, in the arena today, for continuing to support this wonderful ten-day event.
And it is with very great pleasure, that I now declare the twenty-fifteen Royal Queensland Show, officially open.