Consular Corps of Queensland Annual Christmas Dinner Reception 2020
Premier; Chief Justice; Minister; Leader of the Opposition; Lord Mayor; Members of Parliament; Dean, Mr Anton Swan, and members of the Consular Corps; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.
I at once acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands around Brisbane, and extend respectful greetings to Elders and emerging leaders.
I further congratulate Mrs Ruonala for her stirring rendition of our National Anthem, and the Queensland Youth Orchestras quartet.
Kaye and I extend our deepest gratitude to the Consular Corps of Queensland for giving us the opportunity to enjoy your convivial company once again as we head into the festive season – capping off a very difficult 2020. As has been signalled to me, what a wonderful recognition of the significance of the Consular Corps that we have with us tonight, the Premier, the Chief Justice, the Minister, the Lord Mayor, the Director-General – an aggregation not often assembled.
While Christmas this year – for those who celebrate it – may be significantly different to those of the past, the season brings with it the enduring sentiments of generosity, goodwill, unity and hope, which are of benefit to all.
In Australia, we are fortunate to have avoided the worst effects of the coronavirus pandemic, but I know that many of you with us tonight represent countries that have endured tremendous upheaval and loss of lives. May I say that in Queensland, acknowledging disciplined leadership, we have frankly survived very well. Thank you Premier and those you lead, including the Chief Health Officer.
This tragic global event has served to highlight – even more strongly – the importance and value of the Consular Corps community in our State to the citizens you support.
It has been a very busy year for you all – as it has for Kaye and me – adapting outreach and engagement to the necessary restrictions of the times.
I am sure that during this period of great uncertainty, the many foreign nationals either living or holidaying here, who have sought practical assistance from their consular representatives, have welcomed the professionalism and reassurance you offer.
Indeed, it is fair to say that most people only truly appreciate the value of this on-the-ground support in times of adversity.
Yet, the helpful, powerful hand of friendship is not limited to times of need.
Queensland, throughout its history, has benefitted greatly from reaching out to the world. We have been made stronger and more dynamic through our connections and interactions with others.
The Consular Corps itself may have begun modestly, but since 1855 – with the colony’s first consular appointment – it has grown steadily in number and in scope.
The continued sharing of knowledge and expertise only serves to invigorate our international relationships, and enhance our State’s own multicultural communities.
As we look towards 2021, and the return we hope to some semblance of normality, the work of the many career and honorary consul representatives in this State will become even more vital.
I thank each of you for the significant contribution you make to Queensland’s fortunes, as you work so diligently for the citizens of the countries you represent, and to enhance the wellbeing of us all.
As this year’s events have proven, we can never predict what the future will hold, but I am confident that the generosity, goodwill, and unity that underpin this festive season, will stand us in good stead.
What also stands us in good stead, are the institutions upon which Queenslanders can reliably depend.
Queenslanders, although reluctant to “stand on ceremony”, readily embrace tradition which has meaning and purpose.
I have seen this just this month in the discharge of my constitutional duties – an election superbly executed by the Electoral Commission, and the ‘uneventful’ – and that is not a pejorative term – ministerial swearings-in and parliamentary opening over which I presided.
Despite the disruptions of the year, our institutions and traditions have provided stability while adapting to meet the contemporary needs of the people.
That is a great credit to everyone in this room, Members of the Consular Corps included, whose actions are underpinned by mutual respect and comity.
Kaye and I wish you all an enjoyable evening, and a safe and relaxing Christmas, as we think of those who are not as fortunate. We look forward, with much optimism, to 2021!