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Vaughan Johnson reflects on 25 years in parliament

CHEERIO: Outgoing MP Vaughan Johnson was the centre of attention at the LNP launch party in January, while ex-Premier Campbell Newman wished Lachlan Millar luck.
CHEERIO: Outgoing MP Vaughan Johnson was the centre of attention at the LNP launch party in January, while ex-Premier Campbell Newman wished Lachlan Millar luck. Kelly Butterworth Emelnp

EX-GREGORY MP Vaughan Johnson addressed the mayors and councillors he worked so closely with and gave some parting advice to his successor, Lachlan Millar.

Mr Johnson gave a wrap-up of his 25 years in Queensland Parliament and added some anecdotes along the way.

"I wish you well Lachlan, it's a big job mate, a lonely job - there's a lot of miles in it but all the best. As Jacquie said, you'll probably have me on speed dial but I haven't told you I'm going to change my number," he said.

"I was born in Bourke in north-western New South Wales on the 20th of July 1947, so that makes me 67.

"I'm going on 68 this July and I don't look it, they reckon. So I should have stayed for another 10 years and terrified the life out of everybody in the Queensland Parliament. It's been a fun run.

"After we had our family and we'd educated kids … the biggest problem in the bush is educating children; we've all been through that, many of us. We have three children, two daughters and a son, but more importantly today we've got four beautiful granddaughters and I think that's what life is all about - those grandkids.

"Because one day you'll be blessed with them, because they're bloody little champions. Ours are 16 down to 10 now so they're not real little, but they're growing into young women and I'm very proud.

"Bill Glasson, my predecessor, was a very good friend of mine … and always was involved with Bill and his campaigns.

"And then in 1989 when Bill retired I had a fencing contracting business with a mate of mine … when Bill retired, I thought to myself, I'll have a go at that.

"Anyway, the two blokes in the camp with me, a couple of Aboriginal blokes, good men, we were laying there in the swags and it was about 140 in the water all day. You drank hot tea and you wondered why.

"So we packed up the camp and I had to be Alpha the next morning at 11 o'clock. So I had to drive through from Quilpie to Alpha in a tray back Toyota very early in the morning, to be at Alpha at 11 o'clock on that Friday morning. And the rest is history.

"I've got to say, it's been a long journey, it's been a lonely journey, but it's been a very rewarding journey.

"The hardest part about politics, and I say to you tonight, Lachlan, you're on your own a lot mate. And don't leave your wife and kids behind. Because that's the hard part, at the end of the day you've got to go home and hope they're there.

"But most importantly ladies and gentlemen, and tell our friends in Brisbane when you go there, it (Gregory) is the wealth generator of Queensland.

"What I believe is, everybody is equal - whether you're black, whether you're white, or whether you're brindle. Whether you're a multi-millionaire or a bagman, whether you're a Catholic, or an atheist or a barbarian or whatever you want to be.

"And Lachlan, I hope you continue this continuous line of representation when you take over the reins this week. It's not easy, and to stand up in parly rooms in Brisbane, I know every parly room is the same, where we are the minority group. One of my leaders in previous years told me to sit down. I told him no bastard ever tells me to sit down. I'm representing the people of Gregory. And Lach, please do the same.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we have a lot of issues confronting us at the moment in this state. We've seen the trend in the polls last Saturday (January 31). And you know why we've had those trends in the polls last Saturday? It's because of leadership arrogance.

"That's why we had that leadership change, or that turnaround in the polls. Believe you me, and I'll tell you now, when you're representing people, you're representing everybody. You just don't represent the big end of town, or those people who are going to support you. When you walk away from the job, your family is still there, your friends are still there, and your electorate is still there. And I can honestly say, ladies and gentleman, after 25 years I'm walking out of this job and I haven't walked away from the people one single time.

"And I say this to the powers that be in Brisbane. Whoever forms government down there, you are not going to forget about the bush this time because you have been reminded that enough is enough. There's more to Queensland than the Brisbane City Council.

See the CQ News website for a full transcript of Mr Johnson's speech.


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