North Queensland Club Past Presidents' Gala Dinner
State Member for Hinchinbrook, Mr Nick Dametto; North Queensland Club Presidents and committee members past and present; ladies and gentlemen.
It is a great pleasure for Kaye and me to join you in these convivial surroundings once again, this time on my 18th visit to Townsville in the four years since I was sworn in as Governor.
It seems improbable that four years could have gone by already, but the inexorable march of the calendar confirms it.
Nevertheless, I am pleased that I have been able to make regular visits to a city that occupies such an important place in the life and well-being of our State.
Townsville is a major population centre, boasts a diversified economy and a major port, hosts one of Australia’s largest military bases, and is a major educational and research hub.
It is a city renowned for its sporting prowess and, as I know as Patron of the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, for its significant place in Australia’s cultural life.
And I add, without the slightest need for prompting, that Townsville is simply a great place to be.
Among the many highlights of my visits to Townsville so far have been four Australia Day celebrations and four investiture ceremonies at which I presented Australian honours and awards to North Queenslanders who have made outstanding contributions to their communities.
I have also had the pleasure of watching a Cowboys game here – against the Warriors a couple of years ago.
The Cowboys won by a large margin.
I was reminded then of just how passionate North Queenslanders are about their rugby league, and how loyally they support their team, through good times, and not so good times.
On that subject, I will say only that great teams always rebound and that, whatever the circumstances, we have had the privilege this year of farewelling one of rugby league’s greats, Johnathan Thurston.
I am to be at the game tomorrow – the Titans defending – at the Gold Coast.
I wish JT well in his retirement, and in his marvellous ongoing work off the field with Queensland’s indigenous communities.
And we must not be too gloomy when the Blackhawks are in the top four of the Queensland Cup ladder, with the finals about to get under way.
In another sporting context, Townsville made its own special contribution to the 2018 Commonwealth Games in April.
Kaye and I attended the basketball here, adding our voices to the home crowd’s vocal support for the Opals.
The community of Townsville has been active, resilient and forward-looking from its proclamation as a municipality in 1866, right through to the present day.
This Club’s history mirrors that of the city.
The Club began modestly, as an organisation for literary and professional gentlemen, with facilities to tether the horses outside.
It is now a thoroughly modern institution whose members hail from all walks of life including, I am sure, many with literary talents.
And though I didn’t see any horses tethered outside, there is instead plenty of automotive horsepower in the car park.
The Club is also a fine upholder of tradition, and I was delighted, as the 26th Governor of Queensland, to follow the example first set by the fourth Governor of the State, William Cairns, by becoming Patron of the Club.
As Patron, I pay sincere tribute to the Club’s current President and past Presidents here tonight.
The Club’s ongoing success through many decades has been won by your vision, hard work and dedication, to your great credit and to the benefit of the community of North Queensland.
I congratulate you on that marvellous achievement, I thank you for your warm welcome and generous hospitality tonight, and Kaye and I wish the Club every possible success in the future.