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Picture of Sir Leo Hielscher: Queensland Made

Sir Leo Hielscher: Queensland Made

Queensland Made documents the seven decades Sir Leo Hielscher has dedicated in public service to the state of Queensland.
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Queensland Made documents the seven decades Sir Leo Hielscher has dedicated in public service to the state of Queensland. Packed with anecdotes of the major players in the development of Queensland and advice to those aspiring to a life in the public service, this is the story of a hugely entertaining life lived for Queensland.

Born at the start of the Great Depression, Leo’s adult life was acutely influenced by the deprivations of his youth, public paranoia about the Yellow Peril and the effects of the Second World War on his home state. After entering the public service at the age of 15, Leo served for 18 months in the Occupations Forces, administering post-war Japan and, on his return, rapidly rose through the ranks of the Auditor-General’s Department.

After graduating from the University of Queensland in Economics and Accounting, Leo was seconded to the Treasury Department after a senior advisor read one of his final assignments about managing large budgets. As Assistant Under-Treasurer, Leo became part of a team that reformed the Queensland economy, which had descended into a moribund condition since its inception. Over the next 30 years Leo would rise to become one of Queensland’s most powerful public servants as Under Treasurer, holding the financial reins on such major infrastructure projects as the introduction of casinos to Queensland, the building of the Gateway Bridge, the staging of the 1982 Commonwealth Games and the 1988 World Expo, the revitalization of the State’s tourism industry and the construction of the Queensland Cultural Centre.

Leo has also been the driving force in reforming the mining royalties system and an inefficient public service. Leo honed his diplomatic and negotiating skills working alongside more than a dozen Treasurers, and as one of a small group of advisors to Queensland’s most colourful politicians, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen. He was invited to become an Eisenhower Fellow in 1974.

After his ‘first’ retirement in 1987, the now Sir Leo Hielscher became Founding Chairman of Australia’s most successful government debt issuer, the newly formed Queensland Treasury Corporation. More than two decades later, Sir Leo took a more conclusive retirement in 2010. His long years of service were publicly recently acknowledged with the renaming of the two Gateway Bridges as the Sir Leo Hielscher Bridges.

Queensland Made concludes with Sir Leo’s reflection on his retirement, and his hopes for the future of the State that is home to his family.

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