Brisbane Club Governor’s Dinner 2017
Kaye and I are delighted and honoured to join you for this, our fourth Brisbane Club Governor’s Dinner since I was sworn in.
I commented to you last year on the sheer variety of our vice-regal experiences throughout the State, from our larger, regional cities, to our energizing, smaller towns.
That has not changed since we last gathered here.
Indeed, speaking of very small towns, since we did last meet in October 2016, Kaye and I visited Jundah in Central West Queensland. The entire School population of Jundah State, which of course we visited, was then just 8 students, though in our honour the numbers that morning were swollen to 12: they brought across the entire School population of neighbouring Stonehenge – 4!
Moving slightly further up the population scale was Port Curtis State School at the southern end of Rockhampton in August. Its total student population was 50.
What memorable and vibrant visits these have been – meeting wonderfully inquisitive, Queensland school children and their dedicated teachers, all so rightly proud of their small country schools! And how proud we all should be as a State community that we support small school communities in these remoter towns which help define and feed the very psyche of our State.
In our State’s very north we also visited Hope Vale, Aurukun, Lockhart River and Cooktown. And just yesterday we were in Gladstone, where I officially opened the 121st Local Government Association of Queensland Conference.
Each visit, each encounter with our wonderful fellow co-citizens, has deepened Kaye’s and my understanding of the character and resilience of our regional communities.
Kaye and I heartily commend the longstanding connections so many members of our uplifting Club maintain with regional Queensland, professionally and otherwise.
While the invigorating pace of Kaye’s and my regional travel may not have changed since our last visit, one theme has begun to take a more and more prominent profile in our official schedules – the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, now less than six months away.
In March this year, in London, we participated in the launch by Her Majesty the Queen of the Queen’s Baton Relay. At the time, the Baton’s arrival on the Gold Coast seemed well into the future – 388 days to be precise – and the Commonwealth countries it was to visit first were far away on the other side of the world.
The Baton is now on our doorstep. In a week’s time, it will be in Singapore and so will we, as part of the welcoming party for the Baton before it heads for the South Pacific. We will be in Singapore, by the way, en route to Beersheba in Israel for the commemoration of the legendary eponymous Battle in which Queensland light horsemen so prominently and valuably featured.
For those of us of a certain age – I speak for myself but certainly not for Kaye – the mention of the Commonwealth Games evokes memories of the Brisbane Games in 1982, memories of a Brisbane almost transformed by the influx of visitors, and of a giant mechanical kangaroo winking at the Duke of Edinburgh.
However, we cannot and should not rely on nostalgia.
The Brisbane Games took place 35 years ago. Around half of Queensland’s current population was born after 1982, with no first-hand memory of a Commonwealth Games in our back yard.
The 2018 Commonwealth Games are a fresh start, in a different time, with a new generation in attendance. These are Games for which the Gold Coast, Australia’s sixth largest city, will create its own set of unique and marvellous memories, along with a legacy for current and future generations of Queenslanders.
Perhaps the only valid comparison with 1982 is that, once again, we Queenslanders are all in this together. Every encounter our visitors experience, whether in a Stadium at Carrara, on a bus or train, or taking in tourism attractions while here for the Games, will reflect on the Games, on every Queenslander, and on our State.
Naturally, the responsibility for making the Games a great success falls heavily on the organisers. But we all have a role to play in ‘doing Queensland proud’.
In that respect, I have no doubt that the distinguished membership of this Club will play a role in supporting the success of the Games… just as you all have in advancing more widely the interests of our State.
There are two things I have long admired about our uplifting Club.
The first is its ability to continually attract such diversely inspirational Queenslanders.
The second are the Club’s positive foundations, so conducive to the recognition and celebration of exceptional personal achievement. I take the opportunity to congratulate successive Committees and Presidents on assuring the Club’s continuing attractiveness to a large and inclusive membership.
My experience, and Kaye’s, in more than three years in this vice-regal role, gives us enormous confidence that Queensland’s organisational flair, natural warmth and friendliness, so evident here tonight, our wonderful climate and stunning natural environment, will work their magic on our visitors.
As I am sure the Games will be a stunning success next April, I am sure our wonderful Club’s enduring success will continue to grow: the Brisbane Club – a beacon of friendly collegiality, mutual public contribution, and a membership reflecting very substantial aggregate achievement, together in the spirit so rightly proclaimed on our armorial badge: ad congregationem hominum!