Queensland Club Governor’s Dinner
Queensland Club President, Mr Ted McArdle; General Manager, Mr Paul Wilsher; Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
I begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging.
It is such a pleasure for Graeme and me to be joining you this evening at the Queensland Club.
I thank you for the opportunity to share my Vice-Regal experiences, as I head towards the second anniversary of my term as Governor.
I am mindful that this venerable institution has seen 26 other State Governors through its doors, together with a long line of its own presidents, members, visitors and staff—such as the very loyal Mr William Smith.
Mr Smith, who worked here for 42 years as hall porter, was such a stickler for the rules of visitation that he was known to pluck obtrusive pipes from the mouths of forgetful presidents and also restrain Lord Lamington’s errant poodle—which he tactfully tied to the boot-scraper at the front door.
It is, quite simply, our people who make our places special, and you need not look any further in that regard than those who have shaped this Club, which is only four days older than the entire State of Queensland, and still going strong!
One of my overarching goals as Governor is to acknowledge and applaud the contributions of all Queenslanders to our State’s success, and to support them when times are tough.
To this end, Graeme and I have already visited a large number of Local Government Areas in Queensland since I was sworn in, travelling as far afield as Thursday Island, Hope Vale and Cooktown.
In a few weeks, we head to Cape York Peninsula.
When travelling, I meet as often as possible with community, political and industry representatives, frontline emergency and health workers, and countless everyday Queenslanders from every demographic.
It is a fascinating, very often uplifting, sometimes confronting, and occasionally very humbling role.
Chatting about local interests and issues has also enabled me to better understand the deep connection people have with the unique regions they live and work in, and this is vital to me in my role as their representative.
I continue to marvel at the strength of people’s connections with the land and landscapes they inhabit, which reaffirm their belonging, and the cultural frameworks by which they live their daily lives.
I remain firmly committed to reconciliation—acknowledging the immense contribution that First Nations people make to the richness of our State, and highlighting how their ancient traditions and cultural practices have the power to inform and inspire our contemporary lives.
We can all play a role in furthering equality, and the opportunities brought by education—including boosting literacy rates among Indigenous children, another focus of mine.
We are celebrating NAIDOC Week at Government House and held a number of “first of their kind” events that saw our Investiture Room transformed into a fashion catwalk and the House become a gallery to showcase Indigenous artworks. The depth of creative talent on show was truly inspirational, and I encourage you to visit our social media accounts for a glimpse of this.
Meanwhile, Graeme and I are always pleased to have opportunities to encourage and promote our more than 160 patronage organisations, whose work touches almost every conceivable aspect of our society, from the life-enhancing to the life-saving.
In the last financial year, we attended about 900 events, many of them in support of our patronages: That is, organisations and people who serve their communities and the State with passion and fierce determination and expect very little—if anything—in return.
When it comes to offering something in the way of recognition and gratitude for their service, whether it be an event appearance or a message for an AGM, I am always thrilled to oblige.
Closer to home, my focus is on making all those who visit the Fernberg Estate feel welcome.
I can proudly share with you that we have already set record visitation numbers at Government House, through the introduction of Open Days and Picnic Sundays, and owing to such events of public interest.
These included offering the House as a place of mourning and reflection following the death of Queen Elizabeth the Second, and as a place of pageantry and celebration for the Coronation of King Charles III.
The latter attracted a crowd of 4,500 people, although as you know I was proudly representing our State at the ceremony itself at Westminster Abbey in London.
Finally, encouraging a healthy and active Queensland will always be one of my key priorities.
I deeply appreciate the diligence of our State’s healthcare professionals in their quest to improve the well-being of Queenslanders and will continue to do all I can to support their efforts.
My goal of visiting 124 public hospitals during my term is well on track, with over 50 already ticked off the list.
As Patron of Health and Wellbeing Queensland, I also join the regular Wellbeing Bushwalks we conduct through Fernberg’s magnificent 10 hectares of native bushland. It’s always a highlight of my week, and well worth joining if you haven’t already!
I look around this table and I see many accomplished individuals who I know share my pride in the State and what we have accomplished since our separation from New South Wales.
I take great heart in the longevity of wonderful institutions such as this, and it must be said, walking through these beautiful rooms I feel a connection to my predecessors similar to that felt at Government House.
Thank you again for inviting us to dinner in this delightful parcel of living history.