2016 Christmas Reception
I at once respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Turrbul and Jagera Custodians of the lands around Brisbane. I acknowledge the Elders who play a very important role not only with Indigenous youth, but also with the “reconciliation”, as we term it, of the cultures, which I interpret to mean our living together, as Australians, in the harmony and equality for which we continually yearn.
It is wonderful, ladies and gentlemen, that you have joined Kaye and me tonight – and this year, also our beloved Gavel, the loved and increasingly respected Gavel as he grows larger and larger. The coat he wears tonight is the fourth edition!
Premier, thank you especially for being with us, allowing for your demanding schedule.
Kaye and I approach, next month, the half-way mark of this 26th Governorship. You will I know forgive a natural inclination to some reflection, some very brief reflection.
Unquestionably, our experiences, every day of the past two and a half years, have reinforced, indelibly, our appreciation of the generous, kind-hearted and supportive spirit which imbues our fellow Queenslanders, the spirit which binds and advances us, vitally.
There are statistics – since July 2014, well over 100 regional centres visited, 102 bills Assented to, 637 Queenslanders to whom I have presented honours and awards… and very recently, Regional Government House from Longreach: 8 days, 9 towns, 55 community events, 5000 kilometres travelled.
But even those statistics fail, frankly, to capture the huge numbers of Queenslanders we have met, with whose lives, however briefly, we have intersected, and whom Kaye and I, as best we can, have sought to inspire.
I can report to you that our people harbour an insatiable curiosity about this role, and maintain, for it, a genuine warm regard, which I believe persists irrespective of the identity of the particular incumbent.
This will be evidenced by the many thousands of people who will come through Fernberg’s gates over the next five nights for Christmas Lights.
It was conspicuously on show in the many hundreds who, despite the dreadful privations of drought, lined the platform – with the Town Band playing – to greet Kaye’s and my arrival into Longreach aboard the Vice-Regal Carriage on the ‘Spirit of the Outback’ in June – and I know, ladies and gentlemen, you’ll join me in wishing for further confirmatory Summer rains for our vast West – the drought is not over.
That warm regard was there in the Queenslanders we met in France in July – and there were many – there for solemn commemorations of the Centenary of the War on the Western Front, people often casually approaching us, as fellow Queenslanders, with a warm greeting…
And it was there in the many students at schools we visited all over the State, including ones at which my brothers and I attended in Maryborough, Coolabunia and Longreach… and in Jundah during Regional Government House, Jundah – where Kaye and I were so proud to meet Jundah’s entire school population of 10 children, boosted however to 14 for the day, with the 4 boys who had come over from Stonehenge, its entire student population: what a great State this is, where we acknowledge and support such small communities, recognizing that they are, notwithstanding, communities so amazingly definitive of our psyche as Queenslanders.
There are many others, interactions with thousands of Queenslanders, all of whom have buoyed us: including Mrs Gladys Gerchow, with whom we shared a wonderful morning tea earlier in the year at her home in Buderim soon after she reached the grand age of 100 years.
Mrs Gerchow is here with us tonight: and I now realize too late that I have committed the cardinal sin of disclosing a woman’s age!
Welcome Mrs Gerchow, we are all so pleased you are with us here this evening! You are a great example of the enduring Queensland spirit.
And so, two and a half years on, Kaye and I continue to look forward with optimism… indeed with increasing optimism.
There is no doubt this role affords a Governor unique insights into what makes Queensland and its wonderful people “tick”. Two and a bit years ago, I felt I had a fair appreciation of that.
Now, I can assure you, Kaye’s and my appreciation of our fellow Queenslanders has grown exponentially!
And we look forward now in the glow of the support of all of you, a vibrant cross-section of uplifting Queensland life, all of you very much emblematic of that wonderful spirit which so defines our people, and the spirit which denotes this season as festive: a spirit characterised by renewal, support for one another, and the inspirational pursuit of a better future for all.
On that uplifting note, it is my extraordinary privilege now, on behalf of all Queenslanders, and with Kaye, to wish you all a very happy and fulfilling Christmas, and a most invigorating New Year.
 Longreach, Jundah, Windorah, Muttaburra, Ilfracombe, Boulia, Winton, Bedourie, and Birdsville.