Reception in Support of Drought Affected Queenslanders
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. It is Kaye’s and my absolute honour to host you here at Fernberg for tonight’s highly significant occasion.
As your Governor, I have important ceremonial and constitutional duties – the latter very evident to me over the last 12 days.
However, during the first seven months of this governorship, it is the community role – seeking to unify, and promote cohesion, goodwill and mutual respect, in our communities – that Kaye and I have found deeply rewarding. It is in this capacity that we are so honoured to have you here tonight – to offer, on behalf of the people of our State, support for our fellow Queenslanders affected by this shocking and prolonged drought.
Kaye and I have, since July last year, visited Charleville, Goondiwindi and various parts of North Queensland.
In April we head to Winton and Boulia. For the first time – despite growing up in Longreach – I get to glimpse the vast landscape west of Winton.
We have been deeply moved by the plight of those people of the West we have met, especially those affected by the drought. Their resilience is compelling. Many appear to survive on hard work and hope, and are nourished by connectedness to family and community.
We have also been moved by the generous material and psychological support provided by organisations and individuals from metropolitan areas. Many of you are present tonight.
You foster that much needed sense of connectedness. Your concern for your peers is organic and genuine. It ought to be applauded.
I wish to acknowledge tonight the presence of the three farming families staying here as guests at Government House. They are John and Katrina Paine from near Winton, Martin and Kerry Lloyd from near Blackall, and Rick and Patricia Gurnett from near Charleville. I do not want to be thought to be treating them like exhibits in a court proceeding. But if they would be good enough to raise their hands, I am sure you would all with me want to acknowledge them tonight, for they present very much as representatives of the Queenslanders whose plight we particularly recognise tonight, and the courage and tenacity they bring to bear.
I should also now acknowledge the valuable role of the Honourable Bruce Scott MP, Member for Maranoa and Deputy Speaker in the Federal Parliament, in putting this reception together. I recall the Official Secretary and I raising the possibility with him as we travelled together to Charleville for the opening of a new hangar for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
It was Bruce Scott who kindly nominated the western families who are with us tonight – which I imagine, has been a matter of some delight to them! And I believe he was moved by the dedication of our guests as being somewhat younger pastoralists, determined not only to survive financially, but to progress and develop the industry.
It has certainly been a very pleasant experience for Kaye and me to have them with us at Government House. We happen to believe that offering hospitality in that way can be a very important and beneficial way of using these wonderful facilities, and engaging uniquely with our fellow citizens.
Fernberg may be Kaye’s and my residence for the time being, but it very much remains the ‘peoples’ house’. We are very honoured to have you as house guests.
Your staying here is one small way that Kaye and I attempt to convey to all those affected by drought, the heartfelt message of so many Queenslanders: your plight has not been forgotten.
Kaye and I are profoundly optimistic about our State’s future. Despite recent falls across some parts of Queensland, the drought, sadly, continues; our hope alone won’t bring the required rain. But we have confidence in the strength of the Queensland spirit – which you all so wonderfully embody. We hope tonight’s occasion will provide you with some respite, however brief, from your challenges. Thank you.