It will be difficult for anyone who resides in Queensland to get to the end of this year without being made well and truly aware that 2009 is the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Queensland as a separate colony.

The Queensland Premier has released a list of 300 potential Queensland icons, across ten different categories. The plan is to bring that down to a final 150 icons through a process of public voting.  The government’s website now lets people vote for their favourite icon in each of the 10 categories.

In a recognition that people are just as likely to get annoyed as they are pleased by what’s on and not on the list, there’s a disclaimer at the start of the online voting form:

The inclusion of a person, event, invention or place on the short-list of Q150 icons is not intended to offend or upset any individual member or groups of the public.  The inclusion of a person, event, invention, place or the nomination on the Q150 icons shortlist of 300, or final list of 150, does not constitute an endorsement or affiliation by Q150, the State of Queensland, their officers, employees or agents with that person, event, invention, place or nomination, or any affiliated product or service.

I suppose that is really just a reminder that it’s all meant to be a bit of light-hearted fun, so I shan’t use the lists as an excuse to unleash my inner curmudgeon.  No doubt I’d be excused of doing so if I suggested the lists could do with some more explicit recognition to the killing, removing, displacing, enslaving and confining Indigenous people in the process of establishing the state and developing its economy.  obviously not something to celebrate, but definitely a defining thing for the state.

But the short-list of potentially iconic defining moments does include things such as “the arrival of ‘Kanakas’ in Queensland”, the torching of the Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub (resulting in 15 deaths) and the demolition of the historic Cloudland ballroom, so it’s not all sweetness and light.

In an ironic juxtaposition, the coming of railway to Queensland in 1865 is listed just before the starting of European settlement at Redcliffe.  (The settlement was soon relocated to where Brisbane city is today). 

This juxtaposition highlights a real historic and iconic representation of Queensland; our state’s oldest and probably most frequently broken political promise – the promise to build a railway to Redcliffe. First proposed in the 1890s and many times since, it has never happened. 

But in a true show of respect for Queensland’s heritage, the Liberal National Party has used the current election campaign to once again  pledge to build the railway. However, they’re getting in early with their backflip, saying the promise is subject to financial conditions.

In another nice touch, the list of potential icons includes Boggo Road Gaol, scene of many brutalities and abuses, as “one of the locations that put Qld on the map”, and the Hornibrook Highway Bridgeas an iconic structure.  This bridge is currently planned for demolition. It was opened in 1935 and at around 3 kilometres was once the longest bridge in the southern hemisphere (there has since been a longer newer bridge built beside it, with another part way to completion).  It first connected the northern edge of Brisbane with the Redcliffe peninsula – (must be something about Redcliffe).

Anyway, as they say, vote early and vote often (the website doesn’t seem to make any effort to stop multiple voting).

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