Reception to Celebrate the 2016 Royal Queensland Show
Minister Donaldson, representing our Premier; the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Tim Nicholls; Your Honour, Justice Thomas; ladies and gentlemen. Kaye and I are delighted to welcome you all to Fernberg tonight for this annual reception in support of our much loved Ekka.
We also enthusiastically welcome back this evening our Miss Showgirl winner, Kaitlyn Shultz and runner-up, Chloe Maxwell: and we congratulate them – they were here with us last Wednesday, but then as entrants, along with their impressive co-entrants! We also welcome Justin Matthews and Toby Worley, Rural Ambassador winner and runner-up – all of them, excellently epitomising our rural youth!
It has been a source of considerable pride for me, with Kaye, to have attended and officially opened the past three consecutive Royal Queensland Shows, and over the past 12 months, numerous regional milestone shows including the Gatton and Malanda centenary shows – all of them graphic illustrations of regional pride.
This year it is the 139th Ekka which is taking place, however it has been 140 years since the fourth Governor, Sir William Cairns, opened the first ‘Intercolonial Exhibition’ on the twenty-second of August, 1876.
(Incidentally, there is an image of Governor Cairns’ arrival via horse-drawn carriage in the new Government House publication, ‘A Portrait of a Governor’, launched in this very room last week and available online.)
The Brisbane Courier captured the sentiment of the first day of the first Ekka:
From an early hour yesterday morning a general stir was perceptible throughout all parts of the city. From all the southern suburbs groups of people in holiday attire were wending their way towards Fortitude Valley… As the hours passed, the groups increased to continuous streams of people, all moving with their faces in one direction.
As we approach on Wednesday the People’s Day public holiday – and we will be arriving at ‘Exhibition’ station in the QR Heritage train, where I am told I will have the privilege of meeting Borobi, it is a reassuring nod to the RNA that that 1876 description of fervent anticipation will I am sure apply equally to this Wednesday’s Ekka as it did to the ‘Intercolonial Exhibition’!
That is so because the Ekka continues to fulfil so well the RNA’s charter of celebrating the essential role the agricultural and pastoral industries play in the everyday lives of all of us Queenslanders, and in deepening our mutual understandings.
I said at the official opening on Friday night that in this week and a half, “the country really comes to the city”; and, as I added, “the city welcomes the country”. And CEO, in such magnificent attendance numbers. Thank you, as always, to the “niche” organisations, many present tonight, like the QCWA and BUSHKids.
And so consistently, our metropolitan and State newspapers and broadcast bulletins have seen this week a veritable cornucopia – images, sounds, and Tweets and Instagrams! – of country Queenslanders and their magnificent livestock and produce converging on the city – including that beguiling photo in last Monday’s Courier Mail of our RNA President serving ‘King’ the bull a jug of beer! Lots of media here tonight: thank you, you do a great job of letting the sometimes disparate parts of our State know about one another.
In defence of our Queensland children, by the way, I tend to reject the claim sometimes made that a lot of them think milk originates in cartons. But for those who may, a trip to my namesakes’ stalls in the dairy pavilion, thanks to the RNA, will soon dispel any misconception: though I’m disappointed the dairy farmers were unable to be here tonight to hear me say that!
I am the first to acknowledge however the significance of the beginning of the day, and the end of the day, for our wonderful dairy farmers… and I was privileged to talk to some of them very recently in Malanda… our dairy farmers who certainly need our support these days in spades – or no, I should better put it in their own lingo, in bails… b-a-i-l-s!
As we rejoice in the recent good rains in some areas – achingly close for others – and as we hope for more, Kaye and I thank the representatives here tonight from the RNA, our industrial and agricultural organisations, governmental spheres, agribusiness, the community organisations, our regional media; and if I may be excused, as their Patron, with special mention of the wonderful Royal Flying Doctor Service, Queensland Section.
You all do so much for the people of our State, and Kaye and I are so pleased you could join us tonight, supporting our Ekka. Our Ekka, this wonderful, cherished, enduring emblem of an amazingly diverse State.