2014 Christmas Reception
First, I respectfully acknowledge the traditional Indigenous custodians of these lands, and indeed all our Indigenous fellow Queenslanders.
Next, I thank some special friends for their particular contribution tonight: my old friends from a former life, the talented Crown Law Choir, led by conductor Steven Hogg; and newer friends, the magnificent Australian Army Band Brisbane, led by Major Jeff Cocks, and venerable QPS Pipe Major Roddy MacDonald, who I may add has kindly agreed to accept the title “the Governor’s Piper”. We are most grateful to all those accomplished musicians.
Kaye and I are delighted to welcome you all to the first Christmas reception since my being sworn in as your 26th Governor earlier this year. Welcome to your Government House!
I use the word ‘your’ advisedly, because, while this magnificent Estate is Kaye’s and my residence for the time being, it very much remains the ‘peoples' house’.
This is a special place for all Queenslanders, all of whom I am most privileged to represent, and tonight, ladies and gentlemen, you present as a most worthy cross-section of that community.
On the occasion of my being sworn in on the Speaker’s Green 136 days ago, I unsurprisingly made the commitment that Kaye and I would seek to support, encourage and inspire all fellow Queenslanders, and promote the advancement of all aspects of this great State.
Your being invited here tonight confirms how much we value your importance to our State; your support has immeasurably facilitated the fulfilment of Kaye’s and my duty; it has indeed rendered it distinctly pleasant. We thank you all, immensely.
May I add how very much we have been supported also, by the dedicated and highly professional staff of Government House led by Air Commodore Gower. They have all been absolute stalwarts.
At July’s swearing-in, Kaye and I made the pledge, which was the right pledge, and only to be expected, to visit the people of all communities in Queensland during this governorship, and to do all we can to advance and promote the interests of the State.
It is especially uplifting to have the opportunity to support the regions. We have so far visited many of them. I am especially conscious of the need to support our fellow Queenslanders who are suffering the ravaging effects, material and emotional, of this shocking drought. We have been deeply moved by the plight of those people of the West we have met. These are amazingly resilient people. They appear substantially to survive on hard work and hope.
We were also moved to learn of the generous support coming from people and organisations in the South East. I can assure you that that support, in all its forms, is greatly valued by our rural friends: it helps sustain them financially and psychologically. Agricultural and rural health is vital; it is part of Queensland’s psyche: I really hope that support continues and increases, and I express sincere thanks for it.
In September and October for a brief period, we left the State for India, the UK and Belgium.
Our main object was to promote Queensland, and particularly, to communicate to business and government in three of the world’s most important and growing economies, that Queensland then was – and remains – very much open for business as an exciting investment destination.
We also took the opportunity while in Europe to commemorate Queenslanders’ extraordinary sacrifice during the First World War in this, the Anzac Centenary year. We sought to do that, in a humbly respectful way, by visiting war graves of fallen Queensland soldiers in Flanders. It is heartening that so many Australians make this pilgrimage. Our visit, incidentally, followed recently upon a visit by patriotic students from Mackay North State High School.
Then before returning, and as is customary upon appointment as Her Majesty’s representative, we were granted what was a wonderful audience with The Queen. Her Majesty evinced a most positive regard for all aspects of our State. She spoke fondly of all her visits here.
Over these first 136 days, we have been most touched by the spirit of service and friendship of our fellow Queenslanders. Queenslanders are overwhelmingly characterised by conspicuous devotion to Nation, State and each other. That spirit has been palpable as Kaye and I have travelled about the State.
The level of mutual support among our citizenry is a wonderful thing.
We have also been greatly inspired to observe the professional and caring support provided by our community organisations, and Queensland Police Service and Emergency Service personnel, during the daily life of all Queenslanders, most notably during major activities such as we witnessed recently with the wonderfully successful G20 meeting.
This support has been supremely evident in the assistance provided to people all over the State, aiding recovery from the ravages of the storms, droughts and other natural disasters which seem all too regularly to beset us.
We have also through this role come to renewed admiration for the support provided by our Queensland based members of the Australian Defence Force, in daily guaranteeing our national security. Tonight I acknowledge our dedicated service men and women, particularly those on deployment at this significant family time, when they are parted from their partners and children, and parents.
Ladies and gentlemen, Kaye’s and my short time in this role has been privileged, inspirational and salutary. It has reinforced our very firm view that we all have much to be proud of in this State; we all have great cause to be optimistic and positive about our future.
There is no doubt in our minds, that this is indeed the greatest State in which to live, work and prosper. Why? Largely because Queenslanders are such uniquely resilient, inspirational, and genuinely and warmly friendly people!
It is my extraordinary privilege now, on behalf of all Queenslanders, and with Kaye, to wish you all a very happy, and fulfilling, Christmas 2014, and a most progressive and contented 2015.