Official Opening of the 2016 Royal Queensland Show
Thank you, Mr President. I acknowledge all our distinguished guests here tonight, as we gather on the lands traditionally tended by the Turrbal and Jagera peoples, for whom I at once also express my great respect.
My dear fellow Queenslanders…
Kaye and I are delighted to be back in these unique, heritage-listed showgrounds for the official opening of this, the 2016 RNA Show – showgrounds wonderfully unique, of all State capitals, for their close proximity to the central City. Queensland scores yet again!
We warmly welcome all those enjoying the Ekka around this arena today. We extend a special welcome to those families who have travelled from other cherished parts of our vast State, ensuring that, once more, the country really does come to the city; and the city welcomes the country.
As you know, there has been good rain in parts of Western Queensland, bringing some relief to places where the drought has hit hardest. The rain is welcome, but we should bear in mind that it does not mean the end of the drought. And that even if there have been drought-breaking rains, it will take a number of seasons for the livelihoods of people on the land to recover.
Let us continue to keep them in our thoughts, just as we maintain our admiration for their extraordinary strength and resilience. The agriculturalists, the pastoralists: they are critical to the mix which goes to define “Queensland identity”, that identity of which we Queenslanders are so proud and which I suggest others may secretly envy!
In this place which was used during World War Two as a military staging depot, let us also remember that we are now engaged in centenary commemorations of Australia’s involvement in World War One.
Kaye and I have not long returned from a visit to France where we took part in centenary commemorations of the World War One Battles of Fromelles and Pozières on the Western Front. Our visit provided a salutary and humbling reminder of the enormous sacrifice made on our behalf by Australians, from the city and the country, men who fought and died so long ago in those far-off fields, and so significantly for the life-style from which we benefit so much today. “Lest We Forget.”
Respect for a different kind of history and heritage is evident at this 2016 Ekka.
Thanks to the RNA, this year the beautiful ‘Old Museum’ building, of which as a Queensland child and regular visitor I hold treasured memories, once again plays a role in the Show. That has not happened since the 1890s, so it is marvellous to see history coming full circle as that magnificent “exhibition” building opens for Show-goers to enjoy.
Tradition remains of the greatest importance to the Ekka.
Who could imagine the Show without the sounds of razor-sharp axes biting into wood, and the shrieks and screams in sideshow alley? Or the taste of strawberry sundaes, which we can eat without the slightest pang of conscience, because we know that the profits go to worthy charities?
Now heritage and tradition, on their own, don’t guarantee excellent attendances. This year, once again, the RNA Council led by Justice David Thomas and the Executive led by Mr Brendan Christou have worked hard to ensure the Ekka retains a broad appeal to all ages and interests.
They have ensured our RNA Show is exactly what it says “on the label” – Queensland’s largest annual event, a tempting smorgasbord of exhibits, competitions and entertainment that is great fun, yet also reminds us of the enormous contribution made to the lives of all Queenslanders by those who live and work in regional and rural parts of our State.
I thank the RNA Executive, Council, members and staff for their commitment, all year round, to maintaining the traditional heart of the Ekka while refreshing and renewing it for new generations: and in terms of “refreshment”, what transformation we have witnessed here over the last 5 to 10 years or so.
They know, as Kaye and I do, that all that hard work would come to nothing without the small army of marshals and judges, exhibitors, competitors, volunteers, entertainers and sponsors who provide the Ekka’s heart and soul; and that the visitors who make their way here every August in their hundreds of thousands form the strong current which brings the Show to bustling life.
I warmly and sincerely thank everyone involved in this year’s Show for their generous community spirit and their marvellous contributions to this energizing Queensland event.
And so it is with very great pleasure, that I now declare the 2016 Royal Queensland Show officially open.