Official Re-Opening of ANZAC Square
Premier; former Queensland Governor, Major General Arnison; Senator McDonald, representing the federal Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel; Dr Rowan MP, representing the Leader of the Opposition; Councillor Wines, representing the Lord Mayor; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen. I am pleased and honoured to join you on this important day for Queensland.
I at once acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera peoples, and extend respectful greetings to Elders and emerging leaders.
Almost 90 years ago, on Armistice Day 1930, my predecessor Governor Sir John Goodwin stood in this place and dedicated ANZAC Square.
Sir John was a distinguished military surgeon who had served in the Western Front during World War I. He knew the terrible cost of war at first hand. So did many others who attended that day.
For the veterans and families of the fallen listening to Sir John’s words, the passing of twelve years since the end of the Great War would have done little to dull memories of the horrors of battle, of the loss of mates, of the outpouring of grief in so many homes.
But it must have brought pride and consolation to them to see in the very centre of the State capital a noble, elegant memorial that did justice to the extraordinary service and sacrifice of Queensland’s fallen.
We share that pride today in what remains quintessentially a people’s memorial.
Funds for its design and construction were raised by public subscription even though ordinary Queenslanders were struggling financially in the tough post-war years and then with the onset of the Great Depression.
But Queenslanders’ renowned determination ensured that the funds were raised and a design chosen – a simple, moving, and deeply symbolic design.
Even the stairways have meaning. Count the steps in the two sets of stairs leading to Ann Street and you will find they spell out the year 19-18.
There are moving personal touches too. The sculptor Daphne Mayo included the figure of her brother Richard on the memorial commissioned by the women of Queensland and placed here in 1932. Richard had died in 1924 from the effects of being gassed during the war.
And it is worth recalling that this is not Armistice Square, nor Remembrance Square, but ANZAC Square. For Queenslanders, that name goes right to the heart, evoking the potent and enduring legacy of those courageous Australians who stormed the ridges of Gallipoli on an April dawn in 1915.
More than eight decades after this square was first dedicated, time, weather, and structural challenges had taken their toll.
Now a major project has repaired and restored the Square, further enhanced its powerful sense of place, and created within its boundaries a clearer narrative of our military history.
It has prepared the square for another century of active duty serving future generations.
All this has been accomplished with the utmost care and respect for the Square’s history, heritage, and for the deep connection that Queenslanders have with this place.
On behalf of all Queenslanders, I thank all three levels of Government, the Advisory Committee for the Commemoration of ANZAC, represented today by Chair, Captain Andrew Craig, the Project Steering Committee, State Library curators, the contractors, and all those who poured their heart and soul and substantial resources into this wonderful project.
In keeping with tradition, today’s ceremony will include the laying of wreaths in tribute to those whose service and sacrifice are commemorated in this square.
But there are many other ways to pay tribute to them, to repay, even in the smallest way, the boundless debt we owe them.
Whether amid the hushed reverence of a Dawn Service, or hurrying through the Square on a busy workday, each one of us has the chance to pause and reflect here, to weave our respect, sorrow, pride and gratitude into a tribute of another kind, a wreath that does not wilt or fade.
I celebrate with all Queenslanders the restoration of this deeply-loved, sombre but beautiful place of respect and remembrance, and I now solemnly declare ANZAC Square officially re-opened. Thank you.