Friday, 01 September 2023

Agricultural Shows Australia National Conference Dinner

It is my great pleasure to address the national dinner tonight and welcome everyone to Adelaide, in particular our interstate and international guests.

As Governor, one of the unanticipated pleasures of my role is the honour of opening and officiating at agricultural shows throughout the State.

Several shows have recently marked significant milestones - a Centenary or Sesquicentenary - such is the longevity of the agricultural show in the fabric of our society.

In fact, nearly six million Australians visit an agricultural show each year. It is part of who we are.

And it’s worth reminding ourselves that the economic value and associated business activity of these shows contributes about $1 billion to the Australian economy each year.

In my visits to country shows at Mundulla, Strathalbyn and Mount Barker as well as the Royal Adelaide Show, often with my husband Rod, and occasionally our young adult children, it has been fascinating to absorb the community spirit and pride reflected in their staging, a feeling I am sure have many other show-goers have experienced.

It has been that way for many, many years, stretching back to the 1800s.

Agricultural Shows are part of our development as a nation, the first being held in Hobart in 1822 to encourage farming in the settled colony, with Sydney following a year later.

From there, the movement has now spread to more than 580 regional shows throughout the country.

Alongside the rides, food, entertainment and exhibits, the show provides an opportunity for the city and the country to come together and celebrate the important contribution that agriculture makes to our communities and economies.

It is at agricultural shows that children can see where milk and eggs actually come from, how some clothing starts as wool on a sheep’s back.

At agricultural shows we can appreciate and marvel at the skills in needlework, art, baking, flower arranging and other competitions such as horses in action.

At agricultural shows young people can hone their industry skills through the junior stock judging competitions.

At agricultural shows, people from all parts of the production chain can come together to compare, to catch up and to share stories.

While our regions are diverse, there is a striking constant among them – the importance of “the Show” and the enthusiasm of community in coming together to stage each one.

They are one of the most eagerly anticipated dates in the community calendar, and I hope many of you will be staying on to enjoy the Royal Adelaide Show which starts on Saturday (2 Sep).

Behind the success of an agricultural show is a band of dedicated volunteers who give the incredible gift of their time to plan, stage and pack up for next year.

In talking to these myriad volunteers, I have been impressed by their passion and commitment to their communities through their wonderful contributions to their own agricultural shows and ensuring they move with the times.

And as with many other volunteer-led enterprises, the need for renewal and upskilling the next generation of volunteer leaders remains a challenge and an on-going imperative.

I congratulate Agricultural Shows Australia for recognising this and being a unified body providing a voice and advocacy.

You are encouraging a sustainable future for Shows through shared knowledge, experience, opportunities, and innovation - in particular in encouraging young people in agriculture, a vision shared by SA Next Generation.

I am looking forward to the panel session when we can learn of the hopes and aspirations of up-and-coming rural leaders.

As a former diplomat, I strongly believe that people-to-people sharing of ideas, expertise, and insights such as through this conference, strengthens our way forward.

And in that regard, may you all long be “Showing into the Future”.

Coming events