Investiture Ceremony (A) for Queensland Residents
Good afternoon to our distinguished recipients, their proud families and friends, and our official guests. Kaye and I extend a very warm welcome to you all to Government House and to this Investiture Ceremony.
These ceremonies are among the most important duties I perform as Governor. They are always humbling, and I am greatly privileged to be presenting these Australian honours on behalf of our Head of State, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, the Queen of Australia.
Here in this Investiture Room we keep permanent reminders of the link between these awards and our Sovereign — the portraits of Her Majesty The Queen and of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh; the Royal Coat of Arms; and the display of medals representing the fifty-five awards under the Australian Honours System.
Four of those medals feature in today’s ceremony — two of them are medals of the Order of Australia, and two are Conspicuous Service Decorations.
The Order of Australia is the most important way Australians can recognise the achievements and service of our fellow citizens.
As a nation, we are proud of our reputation for fairness and egalitarianism, and the nomination process for these awards is a superb example of that spirit.
Anyone can nominate anyone else, and the stringent review and selection process which follows is completely confidential, with no external interference or influence.
It is a fine system which is the envy of many other nations.
Within the Order, the award of ‘Member’ (the AM) is presented for service in a particular locality or field of activity while the OAM (the Medal of the Order of Australia) recognises men and women from all walks of life who have served their community.
In addition, a number of today’s recipients will receive Conspicuous Service Decorations.
These military awards recognise outstanding devotion to duty or exceptional skills and dedication in non-war-like situations.
They are distinctly Australian awards which are made by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Minister for Defence.
But today’s awards also include one very special presentation — a Commendation for Gallantry, awarded posthumously to Howard Frederick Harvey, a young soldier from Cairns who served as a Signalman in Malaysia in the Second World War.
Captured and imprisoned by the Japanese, Signalman Harvey was executed by his captors in May, nineteen forty-three, as retribution for attempting to escape from the notorious Sandakan prisoner-of-war camp. He was just twenty-one.
In March twenty-eleven, the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence announced that twenty World War Two servicemen, including Signalman Harvey, would be posthumously awarded the Commendation for Gallantry.
That announcement began a long search for the family members in possession of the World War Two medals awarded to those men.
Today I am very proud and pleased that our nation can finally publicly recognise Howard Harvey’s courage, and honour his memory by presenting his Commendation for Gallantry to his first cousin, once removed , Mrs Elizabeth Flanagan.
Signalman Harvey paid the ultimate price for his service to our nation, but all of today’s recipients have given selflessly of their time and talents in the service of the community and of Australia.
For that, on behalf of all Queenslanders, I thank you all, and congratulate you on the recognition you have received today – wear your medals with pride.