Garden Reception to Celebrate Christmas
Ministers, including Minister Farmer representing the Premier, Mr Speaker, Judges, Heads of Churches, ladies and gentlemen, and our younger Queenslanders…
Kaye and I welcome you all most warmly this evening, as we celebrate the forthcoming Christmas 2019.
I acknowledge now that we owe a great debt to our Indigenous fellow Queenslanders – for their predecessors’ custodianship of these lands over tens of thousands of years; and they have tonight my expression of profound respect and support – as we live together. I particularly acknowledge the Turrbal and Jagera traditional owners of the lands on which we gather. The Indigenous flags have been proudly present here at Fernberg for many years; and they are now also in the Governor’s Study.
Passing from ancient heritage deeply felt, I also now acknowledge the students who are present, from Ithaca Creek State School and Churchie; we invited staff and students from Palmwoods and Macleay Island State Schools, others we visited recently this year; they send their apologies. All of these school regularly acknowledge the Indigenous heritage.
In total, since January, Kaye and I have visited 28 schools, from just over the ridge at Ithaca Creek to Mornington Island, Dajarra, Yarrabah, Monto, Burnett Heads, Patrick Estate and Morayfield. In March, we somewhat curiously witnessed ‘Godzilla versus Kong’ being filmed at Miami State High School on the Gold Coast; I am unsure who were the more beguiled, the students or their Governor?!
Dajarra, by the way, is a tiny, very successful, predominantly Aboriginal community 150 kilometres south of Mount Isa. At the School – entire student population, 18! – I was presented with hand-written cards from each of the students; I promised the students they would go on display in the Fernberg Library; they have been, proudly, ever since.
Kaye and I have been enamoured by the reception we have received at every school; such bright, candid, excited, progressive young Queenslanders.
During our week-long Regional Government House programme in August – eleven towns, eight local government areas, 53 events across seven days from our Mount Isa base – we visited Cloncurry State School with one of its proud alumni, Mayor, Cr Greg Campbell.
He told us how, in the aftermath of February’s devastating floods and stock losses, students from around the State had sent in hand written letters of support, addressed to the children of the district. The notes came from places like Longreach and Dalby, themselves beset by endemic drought; in some cases, the children had also sent their own pocket money, or home-made cakes.
These simple, impromptu, heart-warming expressions of support, young Queenslander to young Queenslander, themselves render optimistic our State’s future.
I have spoken of the young people; we shan’t forget older Queenslanders. Recently Kaye and I caught up with Legatees, in their 80s and 90s, at the State Library of Queensland galleries at ANZAC Square; inspiring widows who have lived their lives alone in one pivotal respect, but supported, in another, by the marvellous support bracket of Legacy.
In September, with the Premier, I attended the 110th birthday of our oldest Queenslander, Mrs Mabel Crosby. I committed the cardinal sin then of publicly revealing a women’s age – and I accept I am now a serial offender – a matter for condign punishment, Your Honours? We invited Mrs Crosby tonight, by the way, but she had already accepted an invitation to another party!
In this very busy year – some 649 events – Kaye and I encountered the full panoply of Queensland life: young and old, rural and urban, constitutional and ceremonial, celebration and devastation.
We reported as much to our Head of State, Her Majesty The Queen, during our third audience at Buckingham Palace in this capacity on 19th November – but three weeks ago.
Her Majesty remains, as ever, very interested in our State and its people, and especially the ongoing plight of Queenslanders afflicted this year by flood, drought and bushfire.
In exchange for a gold coin donation, visitors to this year’s Fernberg Christmas Lights will receive a festive bauble featuring what we think are quite distracting images of drought-affected Stanthorpe and Blackall, regional towns we visited this year – all proceeds go to the QCWA Public Rural Crisis Fund. This is our own modest way of promoting those communities which give so much to our State.
We will all, I know, keep all distressed Queenslanders in our thoughts this festive season, including the homeless and the friendless; as we do the remarkable disaster response contingent – the volunteer fire fighters, emergency services personnel and local authorities – and the social welfare agencies, like St Vinnies and Orange Sky which I recently visited – they are doing remarkable work.
And as through this Christmas reception we also anticipate 2020, I mention I attended last Saturday night our Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s performance, with stunning international vocalists, and the Brisbane Chamber Choir, of Handel’s Messiah. May its message of hope, love and redemption inspire all of us as we move through another year in this remarkable human journey.
For now, a merry, safe and fulfilling Christmas to you all!
And now, on cue, Ms Kathy Sander and the Mood Music Trio with their take on that wonderful evocation of the season’s spirit…