Government House Hosted Dinner Southern Downs Regional Tour
Thank you all for joining us this evening. It has been so nice to finally visit the Southern Downs Region.
I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the lands of the Southern Downs region and pay my respects to Elders, past, present and emerging. I extend this to any First Nations people here with us this evening.
Graeme and I are delighted that you have all been able to join us for this evening’s dinner here at the Queensland College of Wine Tourism and I welcome you most warmly. We are especially pleased that we are able to host this event on the second attempt and sincerely apologise that our visit to Stanthorpe in March was postponed following the flooding events in Brisbane and across the State.
Since it first opened its doors, 15 years ago, this College has been an inspiring example of what can happen when imagination and enterprise combine to realise a bold vision.
And it was a very bold vision at a time when the phrase ‘Queensland wine’ was viewed by some as a laughable contradiction in terms.
Few of those naysayers knew that the Granite Belt had been successfully producing wine since the very early days of free settlement in the colony of Queensland.
Even fewer knew then that the number of wineries in Queensland had almost quadrupled in the first few years of the 21st century or that the Queensland government had adopted a far-sighted wine industry strategy as early as 2004.
That was a significant strategy because it recognised that, when combined with tourism, the wine industry could produce exceptional outcomes for the local and State economy. The result was that, within just three years, the Queensland government had launched this magnificent 8.5 million dollar facility as a joint venture with the University of Southern Queensland, in partnership with the tourism industry.
It was a master stroke and today, the College not only has this award-winning restaurant and convention facility, it has its own Banca Ridge wine label; it supports study and research to doctoral level in wine studies through the University of Southern Queensland; and it has developed important collaborations with local food and tourism businesses.
It also has the Gateway to Industry program with links to some 70 secondary schools throughout the State, as well as professional development and mentoring for teachers, and skills training for the tourism and wine industry workforce in everything from barrel maintenance to soil nutrition.
Through programs such as Kids in the Kitchen and the tantalising ‘Winemaker for a Weekend’ course, the College is also proactively responding to public interest and demand and making a major contribution to this region and to the State in the process.
It’s a great success story and as Governor, I congratulate and thank everyone involved in developing the College over the past 15 years.
I also thank the Granite Belt community for their continuing belief and support, and once again thank all of you for joining us tonight.