House debates

Wednesday, 26 November 2014


Goss, Hon. Wayne

12:37 pm

Photo of Wayne SwanWayne Swan (Lilley, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

With the passing of Wayne Goss, Queenslanders have lost one of their finest leaders. Wayne changed Queensland, the state we love, for the better. He dragged it into the sunlight after 32 years in the darkness. He was a leader of deep integrity. He was someone that we will all miss a lot. I remember Wayne as a role model for leadership and integrity and as a man who always held humble Queenslanders close to his heart. Certainly we extend our condolences to his family—to Ro, Caitlin and Ryan.

As I said at the service in Brisbane at the Gallery of Modern Art on Friday, it was really an appropriate venue. With the Rolling Stones belting it out, standing there in the middle of modern Brisbane, fantastic modern art on the walls—it really demonstrated just how much Queensland had changed. The foundations and platform for that change were set during Wayne's term. When Wayne was elected, he was the first Labor Premier of Queensland in 32 years. Only rarely—usually only once every second or perhaps every third political generation—do you see changes of leadership, breakthrough moments like that. As I observed last week, we saw it with Gough Whitlam, we have seen it with Neville Wran, we have seen it with Don Dunstan and we have seen it with John Cain: they were all recognised as great Labor leaders. It is easy to put their success down to timing, to the fact that finally 'It's time,' but those of us who were around in 1989 know it is not just the years in opposition or even the decay of the governing party that wins those breakthrough election victories. It is the emergence of leaders of exceptional quality, people with the right combination of political toughness, personal probity, moral purpose and, above all, true idealism. They are the people who bring the crumbling empires down. Wayne Goss was one of those breakthrough leaders.

A barber's son from Inala, Wayne was inspired by Gough Whitlam. Like Gough, he believed in social justice and he lived it. He took a Labor Party in Queensland obsessed with the spoils of defeat and, after less than two years as leader, made us a governing party for the next 20 years. In everything Wayne did, he inspired by example. For Wayne, it was not about him. It was not about his ego. It was always about what he wanted for the people he represented. What he wanted was an outward looking Queensland, a vibrant Queensland, and he understood that that could only come from lasting, long-term changes. Many were put in place: electoral reform, accountability in public life, respect for human rights, antidiscrimination legislation, land rights legislation and, for the first time, women appointed to the judiciary and senior positions in the public service. Above all, he believed in the empowering gift of education, as it had empowered his own life, and environmental protection, including the World Heritage protection of Fraser Island and the protection of Cape York. This is a legacy which will endure for decades to come. With his passing, as I said at the beginning, we will remember Wayne as a role model for leadership, but above all I will remember him as a great mate, a good friend, and we think of his family when we pass this motion today.

12:41 pm

Photo of Teresa GambaroTeresa Gambaro (Brisbane, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I stand here today with great sadness to speak to this condolence motion for the late Wayne Goss, who in my view was a great parliamentarian, a great Premier and a great Queenslander. As the federal member for Brisbane and on behalf of the whole Gambaro family, I want to express my condolences to the Goss family, and in particular to his wife, Roisin, and children, Ryan and Caitlin. This must be an incredibly difficult time for them, and my thoughts and prayers are with them.

My family knew Wayne Goss for more than 30 years. Despite the fact that he came from a different side of politics, I was always impressed by his unwavering commitment in pursuing what was best for Queensland. It was also my great privilege to have had Wayne Goss as a constituent. Far too often in this place we let petty churlishness and political differences stand in the way of properly acknowledging the good qualities and the strengths of our political opponents. I hope and would like to think that we can as a parliament rise above this incredibly short-sighted dynamic and embrace a more enlightened view of each other.

In the spirit of this approach, it was my great honour to have been able to attend the memorial service that was held for Wayne Goss in Brisbane last Friday at the Gallery of Modern Art, with former National Party Premier of Queensland the Hon. Rob Borbidge and his wife, Jennifer, and former Liberal Queensland Treasurer the Hon. Sir Llew Edwards. The Hon. Ian Macfarlane was representing the Prime Minister, and the Hon. Campbell Newman was also in attendance. It was incredibly gratifying for me to be part of such an apolitical recognition of a great Labor Premier of Queensland.

For me, Wayne was a shining example of never letting obstacles or setbacks get in the way. His battle with cancer took place over many years, but his refusal to let that prevent him from contributing to public life, through his involvement in the business and education sectors, is an example to us all. On the political front, Wayne Goss brought a new dimension of professionalism to the Labor Party in Queensland. As Premier, he had new ideas and a new vision for Queensland.

There has been much talk lately about the nation losing a giant with the passing of Gough Whitlam. Sadly, Queensland now has lost a giant as well. Wayne Goss once said that he hoped that he had left Queensland a better place. For me, there is no doubt that he did, not just through his contribution in political life but also through his work in the business and education sectors, as well as the tireless work that he did in the Indigenous community throughout the state. He will be missed by his friends and family and the grateful state of Queensland that he served with distinction.

12:44 pm

Photo of Jim ChalmersJim Chalmers (Rankin, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

On the day that Wayne Goss died earlier this month I was, by coincidence, attending a speech night at Woodridge high school in my electorate which was also, for a time, in Wayne's electorate of Logan. He was the Premier of Queensland but he was also proudly, from 1986 to the late 1990s, the member for Logan as well.

Wayne Goss was an inspirational figure and he was a transformational figure. I am grateful for the opportunity to put on the record my community's appreciation of his leadership, my state's appreciation of that leadership and also some personal reflections as a Logan City boy, a Queenslander and a product of the state that Wayne Goss built and the party that Wayne Goss built—in both cases unrecognisable from what they replaced.

I was only in grade 6 in 1989 but I knew that something was afoot in Queensland. You could not turn on the radio in mum's car as you were going home from the grocery shopping or anything like that without hearing about this thing called the Fitzgerald inquiry. You knew, in the mid to late eighties and before that as well, that something was seriously wrong with the way Queensland was governed. We knew when we had this guy—this fresh face—called Wayne Goss still in his 30s, remarkably, going for the premiership of our state that something big was going on. My first memories of Wayne were from my mum who used to work the night shift for many years at Sunnybank hospital. One of the first things she would often say she came through the door after a night on the night shift was, 'I saw the Premier jogging this morning', because where he would jog in the mornings coincided with the time and the way my mum drove home from Sunnybank to Springwood in the morning. So mum would often mention that she had seen the Premier out there in his singlet, running long distances as a very fit Premier of Queensland. That is my first memory of Wayne Goss.

I realise later, as I got into politics and became more aware, that 1989 was really a watershed. The election of 1989 was really a watershed the history of our state. It was arguably the key date of change in the modern history of Queensland, because of the change that was brought in—from an old regime characterised by grift and corruption to a new regime characterised by economic modernisation, social justice and all the things that make Queensland a much better place now.

When Wayne campaigned in 1989, he campaigned on the basis that Labor was the only change for the better. He gave Queenslanders a choice and they grabbed it. They turned their back on the corruption and grift and chose economic modernisation, integrity and, above all, social justice. There are so many achievements of the Wayne Goss government. Other speakers, including the member for Lilley who I am honoured to follow here today, mentioned some of the achievements of the Goss government. They are extraordinary: electoral reform, all the Fitzgerald inquiry recommendations implemented; merit-based appointments to the public service; the decriminalisation of homosexuality; gun laws, the first ever in Queensland; the first female cabinet minister in Queensland appointed; the infamous police special branch abolished; and the ban on street marches lifted so that people could express their opinions peacefully without risk of arrest. He introduced the Queensland Conservation Act; stopped rainforest logging and extended the National Park estate; put some of the wet tropics on the World Heritage List; and introduced the teaching of Asian languages in Queensland schools. That was such a remarkable thing that other states around Australia, via the COAG process, adopted the Queensland model for teaching Asian languages in schools—something that would have been unheard of in the years prior to Wayne Goss becoming Premier.

But beyond all of these tangible improvements—beyond the legacies Wayne Goss left when we lost him—were the intangible things, the things that cannot be measured. Above all he taught Queenslanders to believe in ourselves. He was a tremendous rugby league fan. Even up to the last year of his life he was a tremendous supporter of the Brisbane Broncos and the Queensland Maroons He told us that Queensland could be big achievers beyond the sports field, as important as that is. Beyond the football field, he taught us that we could believe in ourselves; that achievements need not be limited to sport—they could be achievements based on our minds and our merit.

As I said before, he was the Premier but he was also the member for Logan and I am honoured to represent a big swathe of Logan City. I am honoured to support my great friend Linus Power as he attempts to win Wayne Goss's old seat back for Labor at the next opportunity in the next few months.

What Wayne Goss did for Queensland, he did for Logan as well. He taught Logan people that we were good enough to have a premier from within our ranks and to believe in ourselves. I have lost count of the number of people who have streamed through the door at my electorate office or stopped me at events to say that Wayne Goss allowed Logan people to walk a bit taller. He was the Premier but he was not just any kind of Premier; he was a Premier who believed in social justice and giving opportunities to kids from areas like mine.

One of the real achievements that has not been mentioned much in the welcome praise of Wayne Goss's life was for the role he played in getting a university campus in Logan City. The first ever; the only one. The Logan campus of Griffith University—Wayne Goss fought to make that happen. The National Party did not want a university in Logan City; they did not think that was appropriate. They wanted one on the Gold Coast; they wanted one in Brisbane—they did not want one in my community. I think it says a lot about Wayne Goss that he fought to make a university campus in Logan City a reality.

At the memorial on Friday, at which the member for Lilley spoke so eloquently, I got to sit with some teachers from some of our Woodridge schools. I got to sit amongst great branch members. Wayne Goss was a branch member in my area until the day he died. There were some other branch members at that memorial service on Friday, such as Sharon and Roger East—some great branch members. Lots of people from our area in Logan were there to commemorate a tremendous life.

We heard stories of an intelligent man, but most of all a man brimming with integrity. There were so many great contributions, speeches and videos that I do not have the time to run through all of the wonderful stories that people told about Wayne Goss's life. But I want to single out his wife, Ro; his daughter, Caitlin, who gave a speech on behalf of herself and her brother Ryan; and Wayne's brother who gave a tremendous contribution. We send them our thoughts and our prayers at a difficult time.

The thing I like most about the contributions that were made at the memorial service were that we also heard that Wayne had a remarkable capacity for humility, humour and self-deprecation. But, above all, he was marked by leadership. I had a great conversation with one of his tremendous friends Dennis Atkins about the intangibility of leadership that Wayne Goss had that was evident to all who met him. He was a leader; he had tremendous developed leadership skills but he was a natural. The way that he led our state showed that to be true.

Wayne Goss also assembled remarkable people around him. The people who went to work with him, to help him, are a mark of his leadership: the member for Lilley went on to become the Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer; the former member for Griffith went on to become the Prime Minister; two university vice-chancellors used to work for Wayne Goss; and a CEO of one of the best disability services groups in the country. All of these people who went on to make remarkable contributions began their professional life—in a substantial way—under the leadership of Wayne Goss.

I only got to know him after he was Premier. The first time I spoke to him was in 1999. He called me; I was a young bureaucrat in the Queensland Department of Premier and Cabinet. He was giving a speech and he wanted a hand with it. I was very nervous; I worked all night for two or three nights in my own time to try and give him the perfect work. He rang me afterwards to thank me. I was terrified when the phone: it was Wayne Goss. I said, 'How did it go?' He said, 'It went brilliantly.' I said, 'That's great,' and I thought I was going to get some really good feedback. I said, 'What specifically?' He said,' The bits that I wrote went brilliantly. The bits you wrote, not so much.' I was terrified about that. I went to another friend of Wayne's and asked if he was joking. They said, 'No, probably not. He was probably serious.' That was the first time I got to know him.

I spoke to him many times after that when I was working for the member for Lilley. He was a tremendous source of advice for my own preselection. At times I would have a cup of tea with him. I would go with Anthony Chisholm, the state secretary of the Queensland branch, and sit on Wayne's balcony at Teneriffe and have a chat. I saw him at Dennis Atkins's 60th birthday; it was the last time I saw him.

To Wayne Goss and his family, we say: thank you, Wayne, for making us proud to be Queenslanders and proud to be part of the great Australian Labor Party; for allowing us and teaching us to believe in ourselves at a state level but also in the community; for your life of leadership and social justice, intelligence and integrity; and, most of all, for making Queensland a better place. Thank you.

12:55 pm

Photo of Tony PasinTony Pasin (Barker, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to contribute to this condolence motion for Wayne Goss. I knew Wayne Goss for a number of years. Mr Goss was Chairman of Free TV Australia, which is the main representative body for the television industry in Australia; I was on the board of that organisation and so I had the opportunity to work quite closely with him over a number of years. In that time, I found him to be a person of great intellect and of high integrity and a person who was extremely professional. In the sometimes flamboyant television industry, he was a very steady hand, someone who did not get swept up in the emotions of the day but, rather, had a very steady and professional approach. Indeed, if I were to use one word to describe Mr Goss based on my knowledge of him, it would be 'professional'. He was the ultimate professional, in my experience.

We did on occasion discuss politics. Obviously, we had some different views, but they were always very respectful and convivial discussions. I will leave it to others to talk about Queensland politics. There are plenty of others who know a lot more about that than I do. But I would say that I know he was proud of his achievements, and there is no doubt there were a significant number of them.

Certainly, from my experience and, I am sure, that of other members of the House who knew him, we would all agree that he was a good man and a man of high integrity—and, ultimately, there is nothing more important than that.

Debate interrupted.

Federation Chamber adjourned at 12. 58 pm.