Rockhampton Community Morning Tea
Justice Crow; Member for Rockhampton, Mr Barry O’Rourke MP; Mayor, Councillor Strelow and fellow Councillors; CQUniversity Chancellor, Mr John Abbott; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen. I am delighted to be back in the wonderful city of Rockhampton, and to have the opportunity to meet more of the people who make Central Queensland thrive.
I at once acknowledge the traditional owners of these lands, and extend respectful greetings to Elders and emerging leaders.
As Governor of Queensland, I place tremendous importance on acknowledging the contributions regional communities make to the broader fortunes of our State.
Each time I have visited “Rocky” – and this is my fourth official trip here – I am pleased to see the positive enhancements that have been made to this historically valuable place.
Since my 2017 visit, the Fitzroy Riverside Precinct has been transformed, the Kershaw Gardens reinvigorated, and this month, your Botanic Garden has celebrated its 150th birthday…
I believe you have also recently welcomed a new baby-boy into your zoo’s chimp community, causing much excitement…
Your region’s impetus to prosper is an enduring, defining feature of this region. In 1865, when the first Governor of Queensland, Sir George Ferguson Bowen arrived to open the Great Northern Railway, he said:
“When I first saw Rockhampton, in 1860, it was a small hamlet of wooden huts, with scarcely 500 inhabitants...on my second visit, in 1862, your population had trebled…[now] I see around me a flourishing town of nearly 5000 inhabitants…”
Wouldn’t Governor Bowen be delighted to see today’s vibrant Rockhampton Council area with its more than 80,000 residents, and 5,000-plus local businesses!
In London last November, at Australia House, Kaye and I attended a recital of music and dance in honor of former Rockhampton Resident Leanne Benjamin. The Royal Ballet’s longest-ever serving principal dancer took her first ballet class in the old Saint Andrew's Church Hall in Bolsover Street, just around the corner. She sends her best wishes to the people of this City of which she is so tremendously proud.
I have been very pleased to hear on this visit of continuing regional progress.
Yet, I know that in recent years, Mother Nature has not made things easy. Your communities have tackled floods, cyclones, and prolonged drought, and then, most recently, the threat of fire as Mount Archer blazed.
Yesterday I visited Yeppoon, and met people in the Livingstone Shire who had lost their homes.
I have also talked with those responsible for response and recovery in this wider region. I know many of you here have been affected, whether personally or through voluntary fire-fighting efforts.
My heartfelt thanks go to all those who helped during this traumatic time, particularly those working for our fire and other emergency services. Your bravery and dedication are truly admirable.
The communities you belong to are woven together by the efforts of many – by the local businesses and services who provide employment across a range of industries, including your famous beef sector – the not-for-profit organisations that are always there to help – and the individuals who call this region home.
Whether times are difficult or not, you come together with determined compassion. Today’s event is an expression of my deepest gratitude for your contributions. Thank you.