5 September - Honours and Awards under the Australian Honours System
Kaye and I welcome warmly to Government House today recipients of awards 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. It is also an important day for Kaye and me, because investiture ceremonies are a substantial element of the civic and ceremonial roles and responsibilities of being Governor of Queensland. We especially cherish today because this is our first investiture ceremony since my being sworn in as Governor just over one month ago.
We have quickly learned that everyone at Government House takes the responsibility of hosting these events very seriously, which is why particular care was taken over the formality and dignity of the ceremony we have just witnessed, and why we ensure that Government House and its beautiful gardens are looking their absolute best.
All Governors involved in investitures have held these ceremonies in the highest regard. It is abundantly clear why: the individuals one encounters during investitures, including the venerable group with us today, epitomise the very best of Queensland.
To the recipients: you are being invested into the Australian honours system, our country’s most prestigious awards. They are the ultimate means by which we recognise outstanding achievement and service to our nation. We give honours to recognise, to celebrate and to say “thank you” because you have made a difference; your service has been both exemplary and extraordinary. Quite simply, there is no higher honour.
I do not believe I could be clearer about the pride and satisfaction Kaye and I derive from being present at these ceremonies. Indeed, of all my duties as your Governor, investing fine citizens, such as yourselves, into the Order is the one duty I have looked forward to more than any other! However, today is not only about my individual views and opinions. Today I have the privilege of speaking for the entire Queensland community in recognising and acknowledging the men and women in front of me.
The great majority of award recipients – at any investiture ceremony – are not household names and have no wish to be. They may be well-known – even “legends” – in their neighbourhoods, towns or districts, within the organisations they devote their time to, or in their professions. But you will have seen very few of their faces splashed across our TVs and computer screens, our newspapers and magazines – although some of you may end up on the Governor of Queensland Twitter and facebook pages following today’s ceremony.
That you may not have seen these names in the conventional media makes today even more noteworthy, because it is one of the few occasions on which we are given a glimpse into the range and depth of marvellous contributions to the community made quietly, out of the spotlight, by people who might otherwise not rate a second glance in the street.
This is one of the very great strengths of the Australian honours system. The core reason awardees are being honoured today is that their service and contribution to community, their achievements, are well outside the sphere of the ordinary.
Words like humility, compassion, confidence, resilience and devotion attempt to describe, admittedly inadequately, the character of your service to our communities. They fail to fully capture, as words inevitably do, the sheer magnificence of your contributions. But remember that today’s ceremony, surrounded here by friends, family, and colleagues, symbolises that, in some way, your fellow Queenslanders recognise that you have lived your life in a remarkable and distinguished way. Your peers have acknowledged that, by your efforts, our State is a better place in which to live.
Kaye and I are rightly enamoured by your exemplary service. You are all truly wonderful people, and it is an honour to be in such esteemed company. Thank you.