The Brisbane Club’s Annual Governor’s Dinner
Kaye and I are delighted to be here. We are so honoured to have the opportunity to maintain the vice-regal connection with the Club.
I am very pleased to tell you, as your new Patron, that Kaye and I were only last Friday morning afforded a most memorable audience by Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace. The Queen evinced a very warm feeling for all aspects of our great State.
Now I hope that beyond those few words, I am sticking with precedent in adding just a little tonight to mark this important annual event.
While Kaye and I have attended this great Club, here and at the previous clubhouse, on countless occasions over very many years, there is obviously a very special aspect to our presence now in my new role as Governor and Club Patron.
I was most recently here about 3 months ago for a farewell from the Bar Council, a dinner memorable, frankly, for its poignancy. I had left the Bar, and I had left the Supreme Court and the Chief Justiceship. But the reality is that if I am to prove a good Governor, that background - that I cannot nor wish to escape - will I am sure have been influential.
Incidentally, I was then presented with a most elegant carriage clock which now adorns our mantel piece at Fernberg. Oddly, it consistently runs slow! I have wondered about that. I don’t think I am being chastened back into the earlier career. The message, I think, is the one so often expressed to us over recent weeks, which is: “pace yourselves”.
Now after-dinner speeches have always been an incident of formal dinners. Some people look forward to them; others not so much. Someone once said that the best way to stay awake during an after-dinner speech was to deliver it.
Our Club has often been graced by excellent speakers, and always by members in an audience marked by courtesy. But I am straying into territory which might invite invidious comparisons, so I will at once move to safer ground and speak of another important feature of this event and the Club – conviviality. And who better to talk about conviviality, you may say, than a lawyer turned Governor: Michael Klug and Ken McDonald will corroborate me in that.
People are attracted to clubs for all kinds of reasons – among them shared interests, meeting new people, making new friends and so-called networking – but we all know that no club will survive long unless it creates, and maintains, a culture of conviviality and a sense of comfortable companionship.
One author memorably described companionship as being with someone you like talking to and like being silent with - a bit like the long-standing marriages many of us are so fortunate to enjoy. “Conviviality” is a noisier version of the same thing, a pleasure in the company of others, and how wonderfully the Club engages to secure that.
Our Brisbane Club has now been a prominent part of this city’s social fabric for well over a century. It has clearly succeeded on the companionship and conviviality front, aided certainly by its reputation for great food, the excellent wine cellar and first-rate facilities.
That is no doubt why the Club has maintained its ability to attract leaders prominent in Queensland’s business, professional and other fields – along with its welcome of women into the fold of membership, a move which was both sagacious, and may I say, right.
I congratulate the Club on its success, its longevity, and the quiet cultivation by its executive and members of these companionable, convivial, civil and civilised qualities. A community can never have too much of them.
May I especially commend the President and the Committee. Yours is not an easy job, but you follow through very well, and the members rightly commend you.
The mention of community reminds me there is another aspect of the Club’s membership warranting mention this evening.
I know from my experience as Chief Justice that many Club members are active and successful, not only in their chosen primary fields of endeavour, but also for their sheer altruism, in philanthropy and in community not-for-profit organisations. There are many of them here.
Support for these organisations and the work they do forms a very large part of my civic responsibilities as Governor, in fulfilment of the pledge I made at my swearing-in, at the Speaker’s Green, to support, encourage and inspire all Queenslanders. As Governor, I am very grateful for this commitment from such wonderful and inspiring Queenslanders – and Club stalwarts.
We thank you all very much for your company and hospitality in these convivial surroundings, and we warmly wish the Club continuing success. Even a monthly perusal of the Club newsletter leaves one most sanguine about that. What a vibrant institution this is!
I regard this Club a most memorable emanation of the Queensland spirit which so enthuses Kaye and me in our new role, a role which we so fervently hope to discharge well for the benefit of us all.
And now, in that context, and at the risk of being branded as a little unpredictable, may I depart from my script, and my Aide de Camp’s running sheet, and ask you all to rise and drink with me, to… “the Club”.