Sister Greta Norman Towner Memorial Gala Dinner
State Member for Gregory, Mr Lachlan Millar MP; Federal Member for Maranoa and Leader of the Nationals, the Honourable David Littleproud MP; Blackall-Tambo Regional Council Mayor, Councillor Andrew Martin; RSL Queensland Deputy President, Lieutenant Colonel Wendy Taylor (Retd); Blackall RSL Sub-Branch President, Captain Terri-Ann Eden-Jones; Representing the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps, Lieutenant Daniel Mulhall; Nephew of Edgar and Greta Towner, Mr John Towner; Sculptor, Mr Cam Crossley; Distinguished guests; Ladies and gentlemen.
I begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the lands on which we are gathered, and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and to any First Nations people here this evening.
Graeme and I are delighted to be in Blackall for this special dinner to commemorate the unveiling of this stunning statue of local hero Sister Greta Norman Towner.
Congratulations again to Walking with Greta’s sculptor, Cam Crossley, to the Blackall RSL Sub-Branch for commissioning this important work of art, and to the Blackall-Tambo Regional Council and the State Government for assisting in its realisation.
The statue is truly magnificent and will be admired by visitors into the future.
Significantly, its plaque immortalises the words “She Too Served”, which remind us of the valuable yet often neglected stories of women’s contributions in times of armed conflict.
I am therefore so pleased that Judy Murray and Wendy Just of the Blackall Historical Society have explored this theme further through their interesting and insightful display in the foyer that highlights the diverse ways women have participated in our State’s military narrative.
Sister Greta Towner’s story exemplifies the essential role of nurses and other medical workers who have served our country since the Boer War, offering their skills, calm and untiring support when it was most needed, regardless of the danger.
Women have long featured in aspects of Australia’s military engagement, from the outset demonstrating an admirable, enterprising spirit that saw organisations like the Red Cross and the Women’s Land Army flourish.
Among many other responsibilities, they have undertaken jobs previously restricted to men, they been active members of the Auxiliary Services, and of course, they are now frontline members of our nation’s Peacekeeping and Defence Forces.
Alongside the heroes of the past, stand the heroes of today — people such as Ronan Robinson, whose letter inspired the creation of Towner’s Call; Bayley Williams, the Premier’s ANZAC Prize winner, Avril Fazel and the students of Blackall State School, whose research work with Christine Campbell of the Blackall Historical Society led to Sister Greta’s statue being created.
And, of course, schoolgirl Malia Knox, who lobbied singlehandedly and successfully to ensure greater diversity in our State’s public art.
There are many other individuals and local organisations that have been involved in the effort to see Sister Greta’s likeness rendered in bronze, and now standing so proudly in Blackall Memorial Park with that of her brother, Lieutenant Edgar Towner.
My wholehearted congratulations to all.
And as we look towards Remembrance Day tomorrow, Graeme and I take this opportunity to pay tribute to all the former and current members of our Defence Forces, whose efforts in the past, present and future represent a profound commitment to serve for the greater good.
We hope you have a lovely evening.