29 September 2021
Delivered by Professor Deborah Terry AO, Vice-Chancellor and President, The University of Queensland


Good afternoon, everyone.

Can I begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the lands on which we are meeting today.

We honour their Elders and their continuing cultural and spiritual connection to this land, as we walk together on the path to reconciliation.

At UQ, we’re delighted to have this opportunity to co-sponsor today’s ‘State of the State’ address by the Premier, the Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk.

I also had the privilege of introducing the Premier, here on this stage, at last year’s ‘State-of-the-State’ address.

And I can recall looking out at the socially distanced tables – and thinking there’s still no clear path out of this pandemic.

So, although we remain very much on alert in our battle with this virus, the future looks a whole lot rosier than it did a year ago.

As our vaccination rates continue to steadily climb, we are inching ever closer to that post-pandemic recovery phase.

And with that progress, as I’m sure we’ll hear from the Premier, there are clear signs that we’re on track for a robust economic recovery.

First, there’s the consistent flow of stronger-than-anticipated economic and demographic data that we’ve already seen over the past year.

While recognizing that restrictions in NSW and Victoria have tempered business and consumer confidence, the underlying momentum in the economy is apparent in growing household savings; improving job figures; the recent pick-up in business investment; and, of course, the wealth effect associated with strong growth in house prices.

But, more particularly – and in spite of our occasionally closed borders – there’s been a very pronounced flow of both financial and human capital into our state.

In the year to March 2021, ABS figures show that Queensland’s net population grew faster than all the other States and Territories, combined.

In fact, during the first year of the pandemic, our state population grew by almost exactly the same amount as Victoria’s shrunk – 43,000 people.

That’s a significant demographic shift and it, alone, will provide a genuine growth spur for Queensland over the coming decade.

The second factor that gives me confidence in Queensland’s economic prospects is the increased activity that we are seeing in our state’s innovation ecosystem.

I have a privileged perspective on this scale-up because UQ is a major producer of both the educational and research programs that are such a vital input to our innovation ecosystem, here, in Queensland.

In the past year alone, there have been two companies that were founded by UQ graduates that have now reached so-called “unicorn” status – meaning that they are now each valued at more than one billion dollars.

The first of those companies is Tritium, which has quickly become one of the world’s leading manufacturers of fast chargers for electric vehicles.

And the second is a company called Go1, which operates an online corporate training marketplace that has global reach.

Both companies now employ hundreds of people across America, Europe and Asia – but they are run, from right here, in Brisbane.

And yesterday, with QUT, we welcomed our new partnership with Stryker – a global player in medical products that has opened its first Australian R&D facility at Herston.

And there is more in the pipeline, including our major collaborative bids to the Commonwealth to help build agrifood manufacturing and biomanufacturing capabilities here in Queensland.

So, as we look forward to being in the global spotlight in 2032, we can see the foundations of a more diversified industrial base that will complement the infrastructure investment in the lead-up to the Brisbane Olympics and Paralympics.

On behalf of all of us Premier, I’d like to convey our congratulations to you on the success of that landmark Olympic bid.

Which brings me to my main role here – the formal introductions.

Moderating today’s discussion is Chris Rogan, who is a Partner at PwC.

Chris will join the Premier on stage, straight after her speech.

But it’s now my great privilege to invite to the stage The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk – Queensland’s Premier and Minister for Trade – to deliver the 2021 ‘State of the State’ address