Rotary Centenary Dinner
President of the Rotary Club of Brisbane, Mr Bruce McNaught; Rotary Foundation Trustees, Mr Ian Riseley AM, Ms Martha Peak Helman and Mr Larry Lunsford; District Governor, Mr Tim Keeler AM; Rotarians; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.
I begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and extend respectful greetings to Elders, past, present and emerging.
Graeme and I are delighted to be here with you for this highly significant celebration of 100 years of Rotary in Queensland at this beautiful venue on the banks of the Brisbane River.
It is with some pride that you can all share in that sense of community that inspired Queenslanders, only three years after Rotary arrived in Australia, to form the Rotary Club of Brisbane.
The achievements of that club and the many Rotary clubs spread across our vast State have been at the vanguard of community support and development for a century, and I hope, we will continue to benefit from the selfless service of Rotarians for centuries to come.
As I contemplated this evening’s event, I was struck by one important, unique and distinguishing quality of Rotary. It was this year’s theme, ‘Imagine Rotary’ coupled with the fact that this event is called a ‘Next Century Gala’. These two concepts, seem to me to highlight a particular motivation, a particular quality – being an insistent future focus.
You could certainly be forgiven for spending the evening figuratively ‘patting yourselves on the back’ for the great achievements of yesterday and today – for great they are.
Indeed, it is so easy to be ensnared in the past and mesmerised by the present. But if we do this, we ignore the opportunity to create a future.
Your focus on the next century is a great credit to all involved with Rotary Queensland and bides well for a progressive and successful future.
Among the truly notable future-focussed projects being undertaken are the Rotary Peace Fellowship Awards in partnership with the University of Queensland’s Rotary Peace Centre – one of only seven centres of its type globally.
By bringing together young, gifted, international students to undertake post-graduate studies at universities around the world, including UQ; you are creating cohorts of connected, internationally experienced and culturally aware young people. They will return to their respective countries and go on to lead the world through the next century. You should not underestimate the global significance of such a project. I commend the role of The Arch Klumph Society of the Rotary Foundation and all Rotarians for this truly inspired enterprise.
Graeme and I as physicians, have always followed with interest and indeed have been in awe of Rotary’s commitment to the incredible challenge of ridding the world of Poliomyelitis, through PolioPlus.
Here, I think it appropriate to pay tribute to the late Sir Clem Renouf AM. As you all know, Sir Clem was a proud Queenslander born in Ingham. During his time as Rotary World President in 1978-79, he played a pivotal role in the establishment of ‘PolioPlus’, averting an estimated 20 million cases of paralysis.
Polio now exists in very few countries; indeed, Wild Poliomyelitis only exists now in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I know the target date for total eradication was the turn of the century, and while that deadline may have passed, it has not dampened your resolve, demonstrating another admirable quality of Rotary, a great tenacity of purpose to ‘never surrender’ – and you have not.
One of the great privileges I have as Governor of Queensland is to speak on behalf of the people of Queensland, and it is on their behalf, that I both congratulate and thank Rotarians past and present for all you have done, and all you continue to do, for the people of this great State.
As I considered Rotary and its many achievements in Queensland over the last century, and importantly, its plans for the next hundred years, I was reminded of the old Greek proverb, ‘A society grows great when we plant trees under the shade of which we will never sit’.
I think it rather aptly captures the spirit of ‘Service above Self’.
On behalf of all those who are touched by the wonderful work you do, thank you for your selfless service and unwavering commitment.
It has been a delight to join in your centenary celebrations, and I do hope you enjoy your evening.