17 November 2011

Academics from The University of Queensland have launched a new website, Queensland Speaks, which through audio-recorded interviews, presents the personal and political perspectives of over 60 Queensland legislative decision makers.

Professor Peter Spearritt and Dr Danielle Miller, from the Centre for the Government of Queensland and UQ’s the School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics, led the oral history project, which includes interviews from former government ministers, and a number of senior public servants.

“While politicians are often in the limelight, senior public servants rarely court it. The website enables you to listen to accounts of progress, change and sometimes of backsliding,” Professor Spearritt said.

Interviews with former Premiers Ahern, Cooper, Goss, Borbidge, and Beattie offer listeners the opportunity to hear the leaders discuss both achievements and failures.

In recognition of the launch, the Centre for the Government of Queensland hosted a symposium in early November, which included four panel discussions.

Speakers at the event included Hon. Joan Sheldon, Mr Ross Rolfe AO, Mr Peter Ellis, Dr Lesley Clark, Ms Robin Sullivan, and Ms Leigh Tabrett as well as a number of academics.

The website was officially launched by former premier Hon. Mike Ahern AO, who was introduced by the University Chancellor, Mr John Story.

In partnership with the Queensland Government and the Centre for the Government of Queensland, a number of UQ academics spent the last year interviewing and assembling the one to three hour interviews that are available on the website.

“We hope that school and university students, as well as academics, the general public and the media will find it a useful and informative source,” Dr Spearritt said.

Short biographies of interviewees are available for users to gain perspective of participants’ positions and allow users to hear the nuances of tone, tempo and silences.

“Interviewees discuss a wide range of topics including the Fitzgerald Inquiry, the so-called ‘hit lists’ and ‘gulags’, government spending, education reform and police corruption,” Dr Miller said.

“We will continue to add interviews with a range of former government ministers and senior public servants. We also hope to conduct interviews with key political party officials and the mayor of some larger councils, concentrating on their relationships with the state government,” she said.

Media: Professor Peter Spearritt (p.spearritt@uq.edu.au or on 0421 055 292), Dr Danielle Miller (07 3365 3330) or Allison Rock at UQ Communications (a.rock1@uq.edu.au).