10 September (pm) - Australian Bravery Decorations under the Australian Honours System
Kaye and I welcome to Government House today recipients of Australian Bravery Decorations under the Australian honours system, their proud families, friends and colleagues, and our special guests.
To the Turrbal and Jagera peoples, who have traditionally been the custodians of the lands around Brisbane, I at once extend respectful greetings.
This is an important day for everyone here and for the broader community. Over the past week, Kaye and I have had the distinguished honour of hosting nearly one hundred remarkable Queenslanders, and their families, here at Government House, to present them with honours and awards under the Australian honours system.
Today, we host nineteen worthy recipients of a very special category of honours: the Australian Bravery Decorations.
The Australian honours system is the pre-eminent way we recognise the contributions of fellow Australians. The system of recognition was designed to capture the values and experiences of Australians, not least of which is a sense of humanity writ large by egalitarianism. However the Bravery Decorations, specifically, reflect that most revered value: sanctity of life, and the dignity we afford it, by seeking to preserve it when our fellow human beings are in peril.
Commendations and awards for bravery are rare. The blood-red ribbons you receive today speak of honour, of heart-break, of momentary courage, of a lifetime of personal anguish and sacrifice - but mostly, that we are human. And sometimes, however unexpectedly, we find ourselves in situations where we are required to do all that is humanly possible to preserve that most precious gift, life.
The common thread of the brave acts the Official Secretary recounted just before, is courage, one the greatest of all human attributes.
Next year commemorates fifty years since the death of Britain’s great war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Churchill’s main battle was against tyranny, and in doing so, he reflected that “courage… is the first of human qualities because it’s the quality that guarantees all others.”
Few of us will ever know what it is like to confront the dangers head-on like our recipients did, nor the resolve they displayed in doing so. Indeed, words like ‘commendation’ and ‘decoration’, and the ceremony associated with today’s honours, may seem inadequate and inconsequential; these sentiments certainly pale in comparison to the gravitas of your actions.
You earned our admiration and respect in the space of a few seconds, and yet, the incidents you confronted, that can tear the tenuous fabric of our normality, may take a lifetime to overcome.
May the high regard I attempt to bestow upon you, on behalf of all your fellow Queenslanders, go some way to acknowledging the – what may be lifelong – sacrifice that you have made; the courage you have displayed, the first of our human qualities.
As Queensland Governor, I have the prestigious honour of speaking on behalf of all Queenslanders, and indeed I do so when I say, Kaye and I are truly enamoured of your actions. Hosting events like this, here at Fernberg, the ‘peoples' house’, is one of our most important public duties, and we look forward to offering you all some genuine hospitality on behalf of, if nothing else, our gratitude. Thank you.