Wayne Goss Memorial







It's a privilege to say a few words about Wayne Goss and his contribution to our great party.

Only rarely - usually only once in every second or perhaps even third political generation - our party experiences a breakthrough moment. It's when our party's heroes are truly made.

Gough Whitlam.
Neville Wran.
Don Dunstan.
John Cain.

All recognised as great Labor leaders.

It's easy to put their success down to timing... To the fact that finally "It's time".

But those of us, who had the good fortune to be around in 1989, know it isn't the years in opposition, or even the decay of the governing party, that wins those breakthrough victories.

It's the emergence of leaders of exceptional quality-people with the right combination of political toughness, personal probity, moral purpose and, above all, true idealism-who bring crumbling political empires down.

Wayne Goss was one of those breakthrough, transformative change agents of our party and our state.

Wayne gave us all the opportunity to change the State we love for the better - to drag it into the sunlight after 32 years in the darkness.

The barber's son from Inala, Wayne was inspired by Gough Whitlam.

Like Gough, he believed in social justice and he lived it.

Joining the ALP in 1975, and elected in 1983, he didn't want a seat in Parliament to be in Opposition.

He took a Labor Party obsessed with the spoils of defeat and after less than two years as leader, made us a governing party for the next 20 years.

A tough taskmaster, but he also had an ability to laugh at himself.

David Barbagallo tells the story of being on a trade mission with Wayne in Munich and, of course, as always, room had to be made for Wayne's run.

The German hosts organised for a bronze medallist at the Montreal Olympics to run with Wayne. 
When Wayne got back, looking somewhat more exhausted than normal, he was asked how he went, he replied.... "I let him win - I didn't want to cause a diplomatic incident."

He inspired by example. It wasn't about him or his ego. It was always about what he wanted for the people he represented.

The victory in ‘89 was never certain, an outrageous gerrymander made the mountain seem too steep to climb.

The one thing that was going for us - the only bloody thing that was going for us - was Wayne.

And, of course, Ro - always there, supporting our efforts and nurturing the family.

Wayne's integrity and his discipline were our greatest strengths, and that Irish streak inherited from Norma, meant that he never took a backwards step.

Grand, empty gestures were never his way.

He was interested in lasting change and standing here today, in GOMA, we're surrounded by a respect for artistic endeavour and the importance of creativity that he nurtured.

Our outward-looking, vibrant Queensland community, flows from these long-term changes: electoral reform, accountability in public life, respect for human rights embodied in anti-discrimination legislation, and land rights legislation.

And for the very first time, women were appointed to the judiciary and senior public service positions.

Wayne understood a vibrant and prosperous community depended on the ability of all to access and enjoy the empowering gift of education, as it had empowered his life.

He left an immense legacy in environmental protection, including the World Heritage protection of Fraser Island and the protection of Cape York.

It's a legacy that will continue to endure for decades to come.

Wayne also understood the importance of a growing economy to raising the living standards and quality of life for working people.

Investors knew that with a man like Wayne Goss as Premier, the Queensland economy was beyond cronyism.

I'll never forget the 1989 campaign launch and its finale - John Farnham's You're The Voice.

Over 6 years, he was the voice to a whole generation of people who believe that government can make a difference and provide opportunity for working people.

Before Wayne Goss came along and dedicated his career to us, our party's relevance and reforming genius lay only in its past.

Under Wayne Goss it became something contemporary. And if we remain true to his example, it will be part of our future too.

With his passing, we will remember Wayne as a role model for leadership and integrity and as a man who always held humble Queenslanders close to his heart.

He was our Labor voice.

Thank you Ro, Ryan and Caitlin for sharing him with us.