Reception in Support of the 2023 Royal Queensland Show
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Honourable Mark Furner MP; representing the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Mr Jarrod Bleijie MP; RNA President, the Honourable Justice David Thomas and Mrs Jane Thomas; RNA Chief Executive, Mr Brendan Christou and Councillors; 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, and to any First Nations people here today.
Graeme and I are delighted to welcome you all to Government House this afternoon, to celebrate Ekka 2023—a much-loved event in Queensland’s calendar.
147 years ago, when our first “Ekka”—the Intercolonial Exhibition—was held in the Brisbane Showgrounds, the newspapers at the time enthusiastically described the events at the opening.
Virtually the entire population of Brisbane flocked to the event, causing traffic chaos, while at the entry, three Volunteer Corps bands played simultaneously “with a somewhat bewildering effect” as the crowds waited patiently for the then Governor, Sir William Cairns, to arrive to open the show.
Once inside, visitors enjoyed numerous exhibits of livestock, agricultural and horticultural produce, sugar making, machinery demonstrations, alongside fine arts and clothing, and feasted on fine Queensland food, at a specially constructed building that could seat 400.
This was truly a celebration of the country coming to the city, and while both the nature of the exhibits, and the fashions of Ekka goers have changed over the years, the rich experiences that made this first event so exciting are still well in force today and attract hundreds of thousands of people to the Brisbane Showgrounds each year.
Generations of Queenslanders have fond memories of the sights, sounds and tastes of the Ekka, and have passed their passion onto their children—which means that this special opportunity for a deep connection between our rural regions and our urban centres continues to remain strong.
It is more important than ever that people understand the fundamental role agriculture plays in their lives, particularly against a backdrop of climate change—which has such an unpredictable effect on growing conditions—and the ever-growing influence of “convenience” foods that put pressure on the health outcomes of Queenslanders.
As Governor and Patron of the RNA, I therefore thank the Association for championing Queensland’s incredible primary producers, and the exceptional, fresh products they provide, and for bringing us the Ekka—which is no small feat—given the logistics involved in hosting an event of such scope and size.
Once again, Graeme and I have thoroughly enjoyed our involvement in all the excitement, having attended numerous events since Opening day, with the Ekka Luncheon and People’s Day Grand Parade still to come.
On behalf of all Queenslanders, I commend the RNA Council, executive, staff and volunteers for their enthusiasm and drive, and acknowledge the vital support of the many generous sponsors.
We wish the Association tremendous success ahead, as we celebrate this very special event, and reflect on its importance to our State and to our agricultural sector.
Thank you, and please enjoy the warm hospitality of Government House.