UQ pays tribute to Wayne Goss

1 Jan 2015
Queensland pays tribute to former Queensland Premier and UQ alumnus Wayne Goss at a Public Memorial Service held at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art on 21 November 2014.

The University of Queensland community is greatly saddened by the passing of Mr Goss at 63 years of age and extends its condolences to his wife, Roisin, their children Ryan and Caitlin and his extended family.

Mr Goss was a true leader and a champion of social justice and democratic reform.

Born in Munduberra and raised by a working class family in Inala, Mr Goss was the first in his family to attend university, graduating from UQ with a Bachelor of Laws in 1975.

After a career as a solicitor, including a contribution to the Aboriginal Legal Service in Brisbane, Mr Goss entered state politics in 1983.  

He was elected Leader of the Opposition in March 1988, and was Premier of Queensland — the first Labor leader in 32 years — from 1989 to 1996.  

In his first term as Premier Mr Goss set about implementing recommendations of the Fitzgerald Inquiry into police corruption and reforms that, in the eyes of many, modernised Queensland and made it a better place to live.

He implemented the Electoral and Administrative Review Commission, which restored fairness and transparency to the electoral system; established merit-based appointment processes in the Queensland Public Service; supported the work of the Criminal Justice Commission (now the Crime and Corruption Commission); introduced broad environmental reforms, including the creation of national parks and the prevention of logging; and decriminalised homosexuality.

Mr Goss also appointed Queensland’s first female Governor, Leneen Forde. 

After leaving politics, Mr Goss returned to UQ to complete a Masters of Business Administration in 1997 and was appointed an adjunct professor at UQ’s TC Beirne School of Law in 1999.  

He chaired the Queensland Art Gallery Board of Trustees from 1999 to 2008. 

UQ awarded him an honorary Doctor of Economics in 2007, in recognition of his distinguished career and contribution to Queensland.

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj AC said Mr Goss would be remembered as one of Australia’s great reforming premiers.

“He was an outstanding alumnus and leader, and his commitment to public service is an inspiration to UQ students and alumni,” Professor Høj said.

“He profoundly changed Queensland’s political landscape and drove much-needed reform in many aspects of Queensland’s public life.

“His achievements in office have been acknowledged by leaders across the political divide.

“His election in 1989 unleashed a spirit of optimism and made Queensland a more attractive place for many talented and boldly creative people. 

“Mr Goss thereby helped lay the groundwork for the modern culture of innovation which is intrinsic to Queensland’s 21st century direction.”

Professor Høj said UQ was proud of its long association with Mr Goss and his family.

“It is a great tragedy that the cancer he so courageously battled since 1997 has claimed him at such a young age, and I offer my sincere condolences to Roisin and his family.”

UQ’s history is closely entwined with the families of Wayne and Roisin Goss.

Dr Roisin Goss earned a Bachelor of Social Studies from UQ in 1969, a Bachelor of Laws in 1980 and a PhD in History in 2010.

Their son, Ryan, graduated from UQ with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws (both with first-class honours) in 2004 and 2005, winning the University Medal both years. He was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship in 2007.

Daughter Caitlin also graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (first-class honours) in 2006, winning the University Medal that year, and a Bachelor of Laws in 2007.  

She was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship in 2009.

Dr Roisin Goss’ father, Dr Konrad Hirschfeld, was awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree by UQ in 1965 and an honorary Doctor of Surgery in 1982. 

Dr Hirschfeld was the Queensland Rhodes Scholar in 1927.

Dr Roisin Goss’ grandfather, Dr Eugen Hirschfeld, was part of UQ’s first Senate from 1910 to 1914. Her uncle, Dr Otto Hirschfeld, was a Chancellor of UQ, and Otto’s granddaughter, Ms Katherine Hirschfeld, is a current member of the UQ Senate.

Two of Roisin Goss’ three sisters also have strong links to UQ. Emeritus Professor Mary Mahoney was the first woman to hold the position of Deputy Chancellor at UQ, while Ms Geraldine McGovern earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1963.

“Mr Goss will always be remembered as one of our great alumni and his example will continue to inspire and energise many generations of students and aspiring leaders,” Professor Høj said.

The Australian National Flag will be flown at half-mast at UQ and Queensland government buildings on 21 November 2014, as a mark of respect for Mr Goss.


Click here to listen to an in-depth interview with Wayne Goss by UQ's Professor Peter Spearritt and Dr Chris Salisbury.