25 November, 2020
Longreach Custodian of the Qantas Legend
GUEST SPEAKER at the Centenary Dinner last Monday evening to commemorate 100 years since the formation of the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services (later to become QANTAS, Australia's national airline), Elizabeth 'Betsy' Fysh, told the large gathering that "the planets seemed to align at the end of World War II."
The author of "When Chairmen Were Patriots: the extraordinary life and times of the founding chairman of QANTAS, Fegus McMaster," Betsy Fysh told of extensive pastoral development, and the necessity to have an airline to service the vast western areas of Queensland and the Northern Territory.
"They made QANTAS happen," she said.
"People in frontier towns were going places - the vastness of the Outback was inspirational.
She described it as "the tailwinds of QANTAS' history" - "and it was the caliber of the three men who started the airline - so different in character - yet they came together to establish something that has lasted a century
"They believed it was a service to the nation," Betsy Fysh said.
"And it came down to a partnership of Fysh and McMaster.
"They needed to contend with the Great Depression of the 1930s - it was a tough time to start - yet that same determination from the past has been used to help rise above the current problems of today like Covid-19 to see an international airline ready to take-on its next century."
Deputy Chairman of Qantas Founders Museum, Graham Wills, noted that what those extraordinary men went through in establishing the airline stays with the company today before reading a letter from 1956 which detailed the history of its development.
"The founders would be astonished - alternatively, they would be thrilled that their vision has been fulfilled," Mr Wills said.
CEO of QANTAS, Alan Joyce, appeared on video, where he told that Australia's national airline was now the longest continuously operating airline in the world.
Chairman of Qantas Founders Museum, John Vincent, and other Sydney-based guest were unable to attend in person due to Covid-19.
Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, and Member for Maranoa, David Littleproud, told the gathering that something special has passed the test of time.
"A real generation that started a modern Australia started it right here," he said.
And he made special mention of QFM's CEO, Tony Martin, walked the corridors of Canberra seeking funding for this totally unique museum.
"It is us who have carried it on," Mr Littleproud said.
"The Spirit of Australia is what happened here 100 years ago - and the people of Longreach are its custodians."