The state of the State of Queensland in 1916

1916 and the First World War was into its third year with both home and abroad suffering under the conflict. On the 22 August 1916 Sir Hamilton Goold-Adams, the Governor of Queensland, gave a speech at the opening of the 20th Parliament, summarising the order of business for the State of Queensland. A speech that gives us today an invaluable insight into life in Queensland for, as Goold-Adams sets out:

It is impossible at present to foresee when the great war that is now entering upon its third year of duration will terminate, in the only way conceivable to us, by the complete triumph of the Mother Country and her Allies.”

The role of Queensland during the war was set out early in the speech, in regards to the Premier’s recent visit to England Goold-Adams highlights that:

… it is confidently expected that Queensland will be able to render increased assistance to the Empire in various ways, and particularly by providing a more plentiful supply of material for the manufacture of munitions.

As to those fighting on the frontline the Premier reported that:

He was also afforded an opportunity by the War Office of visiting the western battle-front in France, where he met and addressed many hundreds of Queenslanders who were gallantly upholding the reputation won by Australians generally by their heroic deeds at Gallipoli. They sent warm greetings to their friends and relatives and look with confidence to the men of Queensland to supply the necessary reinforcements to fill up the gaps caused in their ranks.”

But what of those returning from the war? Goold-Adams offers up the following solution:

My Advisers, recognising that one of the most important matters requiring attention is to make provision for returned soldiers, have now practically ready for occupation by soldier settlers 60,000 acres of the most fertile lands …”

Another key feature of the speech was the drought that took place during 1915 and its impact on the state:

“… our horses decreased by more than fifty-six thousand, our cattle by over six hundred and seventy-five thousand, and our sheep by more than seven million.”

The speech also covered other topics including:

  • the revitalisation of the secondary/manufacturing industry, as well as primary industry
  • loans organised by the State Bank
  • free legal advice to soldiers from the Office of the Public Curator, established 1 January 1916
  • free instruction at State Technical and Agricultural colleges/schools for returned nurses as well as soldiers.

On the 6 November 1916, less than 3 months after his opening of Parliament speech, “the first ballot in connection with the settlement of returned soldiers was held at Beerburrum and Lady Goold-Adams drew the winning numbers when nine returned soldiers secured blocks.”

Vice-Regal Visit to Beerburrum Soldiers’ Settlement, 6 November 1916

Queensland State Archives, Digital Image ID 25255  Correspondence to the Private Secretary of the Governor from the Under Secretary of the Chief Secretary’s Office providing a corrected copy of the Governor’s speech and the Addresses in reply on the occasion of the opening of Parliament, 22 August 1916

Queensland State Archives, Digital Image ID 24596 Minute Book No. 2 – Queensland War Council, 9 October 1916 – 29 January 1917 – Page 98

Queensland Parliament – Work of the Assembly

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