Wayne Goss a man of ‘uncompromising integrity’
Retired Supreme Court judge and former corruption inquiry head Tony Fitzgerald has described former Queensland premier Wayne Goss as a man of “uncompromising integrity”.
Mr Goss implemented the reforms Mr Fitzgerald recommended in his 1989 landmark report into Queensland police corruption.
The report’s findings of entrenched corruptions led to an election which swept away of 32 years of conservative Queensland government.
“Wayne Goss was a man of uncompromising integrity and an outstanding Queenslander whom I greatly admired,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
“We first met when I held a few meetings with him and the other political leaders, Mike Ahern and Angus Innes, during the corruption inquiry,” he said.
“All three provided essential support then.
“And after he became premier, Wayne’s leadership produced the reforms which transformed that state.
“Like most reformers, he paid a heavy price.”
Mr Fitzgerald said he and his wife, Kate, recently shared a meal with Wayne and Roisin Goss.
“We’ve had little contact over recent years, but happily we shared a simple meal with our wives a couple of months ago when he was already gravely ill,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
“I extend my deepest sympathy to Roisin, Ryan and Caitlin.”
Author and social commentator Professor Ross Fitzgerald, emeritus professor in history and politics at Griffith University, said Mr Goss’ rise to premier was linked to Tony Fitzgerald’s inquiry.
“It was really the Fitzgerald Inquiry that enabled Wayne Goss to become the first Labor premier of Queensland for 32 years in December 1989,” Professor Fitzgerald said.
“Had it not been for the Fitzgerald Inquiry, that could not have happened.
“And also had not the Queensland Labor Party not been through the reforms of the late Dr Denis Murphy and Peter Beattie, the party would not have been ready to take part.”
Professor Fitzgerald described Mr Goss as a “steady hand, but he really wasn’t a radical reformer”.
“His government was able to achieve many of the reforms that Tony Fitzgerald suggested,” he said.
Professor Fitzgerald said there was a sharp contrast between Wayne Goss and the Sir Joh Bjeke Petersen-era politicians.
“Interestingly enough, he wasn’t flamboyant and he wasn’t over-the-top like Joh or some of Joh’s ministers like Russ Hinze,” Professor Fitzgerald said.
“He was a sober, steady Premier, which may have been what Queensland needed after the Fitzgerald reforms.”
Professor Fitzgerald said an additional sad note in Mr Goss’s passing was the fact that his federal political aspirations were cut short by an early tumour.
Mr Goss stood for pre-selection for the seat of Oxley against Pauline Hanson in 1998, but had to withdraw because of his health.
At that 1998 election, the seat of Oxley was divided and the new seat of Blair created. Pauline Hanson stood in Blair and lost.
“It would have been fascinating to see how Goss would have performed federally,” he said.
“I mean, he was very different to Joh.
“He wasn’t a caricature like Joh. Sober and even-handed would be my assessment.”
Tony Moore, ‘The Brisbane Times’, November 11, 2014