Afternoon Tea to Celebrate the 115th Anniversary of the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland
Our 22nd Governor, the Honourable Leneen Forde; former member of the Executive Council of Queensland, Mr Ian Walker; RACQ President, Ms Elizabeth Jameson and Directors; Group CEO, Mr David Carter; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.
I at once acknowledge the traditional owners of these lands and extend respectful greetings to Elders and emerging leaders.
It is a tremendous pleasure to welcome you to Government House this afternoon, as we belatedly celebrate the 115th birthday of the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland, and pay tribute to all the wonderful people who ensure the organisation remains an icon in this State.
While the pandemic may have derailed plans for 2020, the RACQ has a long track record in adapting to change.
Even in the comparatively short seven years I have been Patron, I have seen a continual evolution in services and offerings, delivering dynamic and relevant advantages to members of all ages – and far beyond the original motoring focus.
Now, with 1.8 million current members in this State, it is amazing to consider that back in 1905, the RACQ – or the ACQ as it was then known – began with just 18 intrepid motorists, and with fewer than 50 cars in the whole of Queensland!
Indeed, the RACQ’s vice-regal connections stretch back to its earliest days, when in April 1908, then Governor, Lord Chelmsford, cut a dashing figure as wingman to the chauffeur when they took a Panhard et Levassor out on a Club run to the Enoggera Reservoir – there is a photo of that expedition on the piano lid. I am sure Lord Chelmsford relished the transition from buggy travel to motorcar; particularly considering the mileage Governors tend to accumulate!
Since those humble beginnings, the RACQ has rescued more than 30 million Queensland motorists from roadside difficulties. Government House is included in that statistic, by the way, and more than once! Just recently, in April this year, the 1972 Rolls Royce had to be collected from ANZAC Square by an RACQ truck due to a small malfunction! There’s a photo of that on the piano lid, too!
I was making a ceremonious exit from the Shrine at a commemoration of 200 years of Greek independence. I entered the vehicle which would not start because the alternator had collapsed!
It was in a sense fortuitous, because that then afforded me the opportunity for 20 more minutes with the Greek community before the rescue vehicle arrived from Government House.
The breakdown of the Rolls Royce provoked quite a level of mirth from all present.
Of course, the positive work of the RACQ reaches far beyond its core services. It is an organisation that consistently gives back.
As the voice for Queensland’s motorists, persistent and considered advocacy ensures our State’s roads are safer, and that mobility is affordable and accessible.
The efforts of the RACQ Foundation have seen grants transform communities in crisis, and the RACQ Air Rescue Network – the Bundaberg arm of which, under the LifeFlight banner, I visited in February – saves thousands of lives each year.
Yet, the success of any organisation relies on the hard work of its individuals.
The RACQ is lucky to have the passionate loyalty of its Honorary Life Members.