Tributes flow for Liz Cunningham's contributions

Trish Adlam, electorate officer; Jill Hopson, assistant electorate officerBill Byrne, Member for RockhamptonGraeme Kanofski, former CEO Calliope Shire Council, Gladstone Regional CouncilJoe Rea, Boyne SmeltersStephen Bennet, Member for Burnett; Rob Kidd, 4CC; Gail Sellers, Gladstone Mayor.

PEOPLE from around the Gladstone region pay tribute to former Member for Gladstone Liz Cunningham:

Clyde Cameron, former federal MP:

As a politician Liz Cunningham provided what the person in the street wanted and expected, differing from many other political representatives who seem increasingly beholden to their party machines and the corporate sector.

Jeremy Hastings, on behalf of Rio Tinto Alcan and QAL:

Liz is a true champion for Gladstone, who has served our region exhibiting determination, fairness and an unwavering commitment to see positive change for our region.

As a strong supporter of industry, Liz has always remained focused on ensuring that we maintain a healthy balance for sustainable development, with a particular focus on the environment, social investment, employment and our contribution to the local economy.

The true strength of Liz's approach is that you always know where you stand.

We could all trust that our member would, if needed, fight tooth and nail for her electorate. 

Liz Cunningham arrives at her farewell.
Liz Cunningham arrives at her farewell. Paul Braven

This earned the respect of many people locally and  in the Parliament.

Liz is a truly remarkable person and a strong community leader who has invested a huge amount of energy into improving health services for the region.

The Here for Health initiative is making significant progress and Liz has played a crucial role in its success. 

On behalf of Rio Tinto Alcan I would like to say a big thank you to Liz for serving our community over many years.

If you are ever wondering where Liz is, find a great outcome in our community, and more often than not you will find this amazing woman behind the scenes.

Trish Adlam, electorate officer:

Thank you Liz for the opportunity to work alongside you for 11 + years. 

I am honoured to have served with someone whose yes was yes and her no, no.

Your love of God translated into a love of all people. You stood alone in the Parliament on issues of morality and you did not waver - that takes courage! 

Thank you for the high standards you set for handling constituents.

By the time constituents got to our office they had hit many brick walls, and TLC was your prescription.

The love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13 was and will continue to be your guide. Thank you Liz.

Jill Hopson, assistant electorate officer

Over 20 years ago Liz as Mayor was at a passionate meeting in Ubobo. She stood and spoke with understanding and wisdom.

Emotions changed, unity happened.

At a Calliope Guide Hut celebration Liz and I collided on a corner, both wearing bowls of soup I carried!

All the leaders fussed over Liz but she stepped through all that to fuss over me.

In the 90s I invited Liz as guest speaker to Ubobo P&C. About two years ago Liz said to me recalling the meal I cooked her that same night, "It was lamb shanks, so good, I have never forgotten it".

When Rodney had his stroke there was Liz playing ball with him at Mater Rehab in Brisbane.

Since 2011 I have witnessed many others experience events just like these.

I've seen emails flow through from youth starting their careers, all wanting Liz to know what an impact she had made on them. Liz would write back to each one personally. 

Liz is the greatest listener and communicator a region could ask for, tough when she needed to be, or tender, or humorous, yet always fair.

We are" thankful for Liz" and it ends up "No, thank you all". How humbling is that?

Boyne Smelter Ltd general manager Joe Rea, BSL occupational hygienist Sandra Gooderham, Quentin Bryce and Gladstone MP Liz Cunningham shared a laugh over the  white ribbon cake made by Sandra.
Boyne Smelter Ltd general manager Joe Rea, BSL occupational hygienist Sandra Gooderham, Quentin Bryce and Gladstone MP Liz Cunningham shared a laugh over the white ribbon cake made by Sandra. Mara Pattison-Sowden

Bill Byrne, Member for Rockhampton

I have known of Liz Cunningham for many years but it has only been over the last three years as an Opposition member in Queensland Parliament that I have developed a somewhat informed opinion of her.

It was always a pleasure to follow her in a Parliamentary debate because she would always provide a well-considered rationale and deliver such in a manner fitting the community expectation of the institution.

I certainly can't claim to have agreed with all of her views but I always respected her and the opportunity to listen to her sentiments.

During the Newman era it was very tough going for a small Opposition. However, Liz was always very kind to me at a personal level.

I will never forget Liz's courage as chair of the Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Oversight Committee during the last sitting week of 2013.

Liz can reflect on this more accurately than myself. She was treated dreadfully by the LNP and I for one will never forget her courage and determination on that last sitting day.

Liz has demonstrated personal qualities that most only aspire to, and I will always greatly admire her contribution to public life.

Graeme Kanofski, former CEO Calliope Shire Council, Gladstone Regional Council

Liz has given over a quarter of a century to serving this community. That is a mighty achievement by any yardstick.

Liz joined public life as a councillor for the Calliope Shire.

This ambitious first termer even had the audacity to stand against the sitting Mayor at the next election, and won.

About a month before this I was appointed CEO of the Calliope Shire.

Liz quickly brought her new councillors and executive together into an effective team many of whom became close friends over the ensuing years.

In my view the ingredients for her success are her integrity and her passion to truly serve her community.

Liz had the unique ability to assess the issue put before her by a constituent, determine their true needs as against their "wants" and communicate with them in an empathic and understanding way.

What more can you ask of your elected member? All the best for the future to you and your family. Enjoy.

Joe Rea, Boyne Smelters Ltd general manager

If Liz had a concern about industry, we not only knew about it, but also knew that it was in our best interest to act on it, immediately.

As a strong supporter of industry Liz has always remained focused on ensuring that we maintained a healthy balance for sustainable development with a particular focus on the environment, social investment, employment and our contribution to the local economy.

Liz would congratulate industry where credit was due and be the first to hold us to account.

If we had a concern we could trust that our member would, if needed, fight tooth and nail for Gladstone.

She has been an advocate not for what may have been the easiest road to navigate but for what she thought was right for the people that she has represented. 

In doing so she has left behind a remarkable example for others to emulate regardless of their political persuasion.

Liz, you make us proud to be Australian.

Stephen Bennet, Member for Burnett

As has been Liz Cunningham's way in an outstanding political career, she leaves on her terms and at a time of her choosing.

It was an absolute privilege to work with Liz in the 54th Parliament as we both served to ensure our region received the recognition we expect and deserve.

I first met Liz while working on the Gladstone Hospital construction project many years ago.

We had many meetings to ensure that project and community outcomes were achieved, something that never changed - it was always about the community.

My fondest memories are of a strong, dedicated professional who also acted with compassion and empathy.

My discussions with Liz during Parliamentary debates always received a courteous and committed response.

I can attest that not many members of Parliament put as much work into legislation scrutiny and asked as many questions about regional Queensland than Ms Cunningham. 

Liz Cunningham and Barry Leech.
Liz Cunningham and Barry Leech. Paul Braven

Rob Kidd, 4CC

I came back to Gladstone five years ago to drive this little 4CC radio station and one of the first people I had to see was Liz.

Not because she was a state member, not because she had lived here for so long or even because she's so tall.

I had to see Liz to find out what I needed to do to be part of the community as much as she was.

Her advice? Absorb yourself and the rest will follow.

It's something I've lived by every day since driving in back in 2010 and it's true.

Liz has been a tower of strength for me personally. I've laughed, cried, and enjoyed her company at many functions over the years and now, will continue to do so in a different way.

Thank you for everything Liz.

Poem from Craig Ross (Submitted by Gladstone Mayoyr Gail Sellers)

If you need a definition of Independent
Look no further than this lady,
For 20 years a shining light
In a political world so often shady.

A true advocate for the people
Ever ready to stick up for a local,
A country girl who knew when to be quiet
But also knew when to get vocal.

She cut her teeth first as Councillor
Then Mayor of the Calliope Shire,
It could be said she'd done enough
But Liz was drawn to a cause even higher.

Driven by her faith and Christian values
Liz soon enjoyed her finest hour,
When elected to State Parliament
And holding the balance of power.

But that was just the start of things
Liz carved out a long, distinguished career,
Working hard for her constituency
Her ethics and enthusiasm knew no peer.

Whether stopping the sale of a power station
Or a school being built in the wrong place,
Liz was not afraid to take up the fight
Common sense serving as her chain and mace.

But all good things must come to an end
And Liz has certainly earned a rest,
A chance to spend more time with John
He'll get used to it if he knows what's best.

And so we stand here one and all
To pay respect to a champion of the region,
And wish Liz well in retirement
Your supporters and fans remain legion.



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