Swan remembers Wayne Goss: How Goss modernised Brisbane

ABC News Wayne Goss
Election night 1989. Photo: ABC News


Australia’s political elite today reflected on the leadership of former Queensland Premier Wayne Goss, saying his social and legal reforms brought the moonlight state into the modern world.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan worked closely with Mr Goss throughout his career in state politics and says Brisbane would not be the same without ‘Glossy Goss’.

“With Wayne Goss the whole South Bank area went ahead, along with the Treasury Casino and the arts,” Mr Swan said.

“I think the thing that he really did was change the notion of Brisbane being seen as a backwater town.”

Mr Swan added that while many of the Goss Government reforms focused on the city, they also spread across the entire state of Queensland.

“Not only did he and a number of other people have a massive impact on modern Brisbane, he also had a strong education agenda,” he said.

“Not to mention what he did for the environment, making Fraser Island a World Heritage site and he was a champion for anti-discrimination.”

Mr Swan noted how Queensland transformed after 19 years under Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s National Party government.

“The change was in the notion of Queensland being a police state under Joh, because they were taking on the unions and impacting on the psychology of the people,” he said.

“Wayne [Goss] had a big impact on changing those perceptions.”

Photo: au.anygator.com
Remembering Wayne Goss. Photo: au.anygator.com

While Mr Swan was a political colleague of Mr Goss, today he also remembers him as a mate.

“He was a very loyal friend and a good friend. You could trust him, he was dead straight and he didn’t suffer fools easily. A lot of integrity,” he said.

“Integrity is very important not only as a leader, but as a person.”

Political commentators fall short of suggesting that Mr Goss was directly responsible for bringing the G20 Leaders’ Summit to Brisbane City, but nonetheless confirming Mr Goss made an impact.

Long time political commentator Professor Stephen Stockwell, from Griffith University’s School of Humanities, observed the transformation of Brisbane through to the post-Goss era.

Prof. Stockwell said the impact of the Goss Government on Queensland not only extended to legal reforms but also to a cultural expansion of Brisbane City streets.

“The change of government drew a lot of people who had left Queensland for political and cultural reasons back to work for the government,” Prof. Stockwell said.

“This stepped up the quality of commercial and financial activity which then brought even more people, playing a crucial role in modernising Brisbane in the cultural sense.”

“Of course it started with Expo 88, but Goss helped make it so you could have a coffee on the streets again.”

Prof. Stockwell added that the days of conducting business with a ‘wink and a nod’ in the 1960s and ’70s became a thing of the past under Mr Goss.

“He had a sense of integrity which wouldn’t focus on anyone who wouldn’t do the best for the people of Queensland,” he said.

“By no means is Brisbane a world financial centre, but its certainly different compared to what it used to be.”

“He had an honesty about him which made people start to feel more comfortable to conduct business in the city of Brisbane.”

The Source News extends its condolences to Mr Goss’s family, friends and colleagues.

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