Local member Lawrence Springborg sneaks in some down time on his health trek. Photo Kirstin Payne / Warwick Daily News
Local member Lawrence Springborg sneaks in some down time on his health trek. Photo Kirstin Payne / Warwick Daily News Kirstin Payne

25 years later and Springborg's still a boy from the bush

It's been 25 years since Health Minister Lawrence Springborg shed his work boots, hung up his shears and took on the role of a parliamentarian at just 21 years of age.

He swept into politics in December 1989 when Wayne Goss came into power.

The "boy candidate" was the Member for Carnarvon, becoming the Member for Southern Downs when the Stanthorpe-based electorate and Warwick merged three years later.

Though his hands may have softened after years away from working on the land, the minister of one of the state's most testing portfolios still seems to be the boy from the bush.

"When you think about years in the future it seems to be a long time, but it passes in a blink of an eye," Mr Springborg said.

Looking back on his days as a boyish National, the now Health Minister still believes he was qualified for the job.

"Yes I was young but like your race and sex I don't believe you should be judged on it, that's representative democracy," he said.

"Over the age of 18 you can fight for your country, so why shouldn't you run?" said the man who works on the belief that you only stop being too young when you start being too old.

"I love my job, I put my name forward and the people voted for me," he said.

"Hopefully I have repaid that confidence."

While that may have been the case in his electorate, little could be said for the support of the rest of the state.

Mr Springborg talks telehealth at the Thargomindah health centre with Mayor John
Mr Springborg talks telehealth at the Thargomindah health centre with Mayor John "Tractor" Ferguson, RN Chris Dodd and member for Warrego Howard Hobbs. Photo Kirstin Payne / Warwick Daily News Kirstin Payne

After leading the LNP to three defeats in three elections, Mr Springborg was left with what many have called the poison chalice, the state health portfolio.

This is a term the Minister flat out refutes.

"I know it's a cliché but I do want to be doing something that makes a difference," he said.

"I like a challenge, I meet people who save lives and get to assist in that."

Not to be disappointed by failure, Mr Springborg said he had no desire to be Premier.

"No, been there tried that and it wasn't meant to be Queensland decided that," the Minister said.

"I don't have a romantic view of the world, it's a different view of destiny; I always think where I should be is right where I am today".

Where the Minister is today seems to be in the midst of what could be seen as some of the most controversial months in the history of Queensland health.

Doctors contracts, establishing hospital boards, budget cuts, shrinking dental waiting lists and the sacking of the assistant health minister, Mr Springborg works over each subject with a methodical consistency.

He reflects on the practice of ambulances bypassing busy inner city hospitals, which he ended early in his role.

"I banned it because I banned it: It wasn't good for people. These things don't need to be overly complicated," he said.

This simple and straight-forward attitude reflects further into his life outside the green chamber in State Parliament.

When asked to describe why his wife Linda was "the one", Mr Springborg put it simply.

"I liked her because I liked her: It's as simple as that," he said.

"We make a team, she is so independent. She will be out at the sale with our stock herself loading and running things".

Health officials and Mr Springborg listen to Thargomindah mayor John Ferguson about his plans for the town. Photo Kirstin Payne / Warwick Daily News
Health officials and Mr Springborg listen to Thargomindah mayor John Ferguson about his plans for the town. Photo Kirstin Payne / Warwick Daily News Kirstin Payne

Head of the family property and a mother of four, Mrs Springborg is rarely seen in public by her husband's side.

"She doesn't want to be in the limelight. She said it's my job, not hers," Mr Springborg said fondly.

"I guess I do subconsciously shield them".

A typical dad, Mr Springborg likes to be outside on his days at home,

He doesn't know what The Block is, loves the Game of Thrones and holds family traditions as watching The Scarlet Pimpernel every Christmas.

"Sometimes I worry if I'm doing the right thing being away from home," he said.

When away, he phones home nightly.

"I was standing outside of Parliament House just the other day ringing home and I wondered how many times I've done this.

"It must be 700-800 times, it's always the same conversation," he laughed.

"In the city you're surrounded by a million different people and you can still get lonely.

"Everyone else has to be somewhere.

"A night in the city for me is paperwork with dinner".

However, when he does get the odd Sunday afternoon on his Yelarbon property Mr Springborg likes to challenge his daughters to what he calls a "scone-off".

"We both bake a batch and see who has the best one," he said.

"I also have a 'lamb-off' with my youngest, he's got a good lot at the moment so I'm not sure how I'll go there".

In another life Mr Springborg sees himself on his property full time, breeding prime lambs which often top the Warwick sale.

"You get an enormous pride when someone stops you and says 'gee those lambs look good'," he said.

However, like many other generational farmers, he is contemplating the end to his rural linage.

With his daughters living away and eldest son in the army Mr Springborg sees the possibility of the farm's continuation to lay in the hands of his youngest son.

"I am the fourth generation on the Southern Downs, it's who I am.

"It's more than nostalgia for me but what our kids do is up to them," he said.

The man who once graced the pages of the tabloids across the state shirtless isn't quite the domestic pin-up he used to be.

"I'm not at ironing board stage, I'm trying to stay fit with what I eat at the moment because I'm always away," he said.

Instead he prefers a meat centred diet, green tea and a cut back on "the whites," like potato and bread.

"Have you ever seen a fat lion?" he laughed.

Until Queensland decides he is of no use to them anymore Mr Springborg said he would remain in his role.

"You can't forget any seat can be lost and has been," he said.

"If you're not a little nervous you're taking things for granted".

The tall frame said constancy and clear values was the legacy he would leave behind if given the choice.

"You have two ears and one mouth so use them in proportion, if you talk yourself into parliament you will talk your way out".

SPRINGBORG FAMILY RECIPE FOR ROAST LAMB:

  • Roast lamb leg
  • Ingredients
  • Either a leg of lamb, boned rolled shoulder or shoulder with bone in.
  • Olive oil.
  • Salt.
  • Dried rosemary and mint.

Method

Heat oven to 160 degrees.

Smear lamb with Olive oil.

Place in preheated oven for a few minutes to warm.

Remove and sprinkle with dried herbs and salt to taste.

Return to oven and roast until meat starts to come away from the bone and juices run clear when tested with a fork or skewer.

If a darker crust is desired increase temperature to 200 degree towards the end of cooking.

Remove from oven and allow to stand for at least 10 minutes before carving.

Grape Jam Recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 cups sugar
  • 8 cups of grapes, ( I prefer Isabella's because of their stronger and more tart flavour)

Process

Separate the skins from the flesh and seeds by popping the grapes, place the seeds and flesh into one bowl and the skins in another.

Place the flesh and seeds in one saucepan with half the sugar and the skins and the remainder of the sugar in another saucepan.

Bring both to a boil and let simmer until the sugar is properly liquefied and the flesh starts to become more translucent, at this stage the seeds should be easier to separate.

Strain the flesh and seeds through a kitchen strainer, you may have to push the liquified flesh through by a scraping and stirring motion to keep the strainer clear of blockages. Be careful the jam syrup will be hot.

Discard the seeds.

Add the strained mixture and skins together in an appropriate sized saucepan and reheat and simmer until the mixture sets when cooled on a plate. With this recipe I don't even bother to test, as I find that there is more than enough pectin in the grapes to set well.

Prepare your bottles by placing them in the oven heated to 100 Celsius for about 20 minutes to sterilise them. I prefer to sterilise the lids in boiling water in case the hot dry oven affects the seals.

Pour or scoop the mixture into jars whilst both are hot and quickly tighten the lids.



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