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state library of queensland
John Oxley Library

Launch of Queensland Speaks

By Chrissi Theodosiou, Project Officer - State Library of Queensland | 24 November 2011

A Minister for Racing never sounded right to me.  What about a Minister for Backgammon or Scrabble or a Minister for Netball or Hockey?  The late Russ Hinze, who was the Queensland Government’s Minister for Racing 1980–82, certainly didn’t look like particularly sporty or a keen board gamer.  Like many politicians of this era, he was known as a ‘colourful character’ - a term used to describe many-a Queensland politician.  But the ‘colourful character’ of pre-Fitzgerald Queensland, may later be exposed to be corrupt, authoritarian and nepotistic.  Such is the nature of hindsight.

Russell Hinze with racing fashions, Oxenford, 1985

Stories about Queensland’s recent political history are the focus of a new website, Queensland Speaks (yes, Russ Hinze is there).  For anyone interested in Queensland history - political or otherwise - Queensland Speaks is a impressive on-line resource exploring the role of policy and political decision makers in the shaping our State.  Launched last week by the Centre for the Government of Queensland at the University of Queensland, the Queensland Speaks website is a wonderland of oral histories from key politicians and public servants over the last 4 decades.  Exquisitely and clearly organised, one can browse the recollections of our past politicians and senior public servants by name, year, political party, and bailiwick (area of jurisdiction).
The stories of all participants vary enormously, which is a great thing as it keeps even the most casual browser engaged for long periods of time.  Credit must also go to the interviewers who ensure that the hard questions are asked and the processes of past governments and parliaments are discussed.  The personal and professional challenges of the female politicians such as Joan Sheldon, Judy Spence, Yvonne Chapman and public servant Robin Sullivan are particularly enlightening.  This is the genius of the website - as one person’s experiences and perspectives are revealed, a greater historical and political context is painted.

Queensland Speaks is an insightful, valuable resource that anyone with an interest in Queensland history should discover.

Chrissi Theodosiou, Project Officer - State Library of Queensland


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