United Service Club Patron Dinner
I warmly thank the Club for its invitation to Kaye and me to be part of this annual celebration. I am very pleased to be here again this year as your Vice-regal Patron.
I must confess I am a little intimidated: my former Commanding Officer, Brigadier Harrison is here, and my former Warrant Officer when I was a private soldier in the Queensland University Regiment, David McMaugh, who from time to time found fault with my uniform – I am sure he has forgiven me; and as for my shortcomings with the Commanding Officer, including drilling my squad as a platoon sergeant in the early morning outside his tent, I recently made amends by entertaining him at dinner at Government House. Now I am also very pleased to see the Police Commissioner here, and he knows everything about me, having conducted the security check prior to my appointment as Governor! I think he subsequently told me that it was a fairly uninteresting review.
It is of great significance to a Club with strong military connections that 2015 has been a year of major commemorations of Australians at war in the 20th Century.
Naturally and deservedly, these commemorations have focused on the great often supreme sacrifice of those who served and fought.
And this year’s special Anzac Day was, of course, my first as Governor. Imbued on my consciousness are the tens of thousands of expectant, upturned faces as I delivered the address in Anzac Square at the Dawn Service.
The unveiling, on the same day, of our Club’s World War Two Honour Board, is also a greatly valued personal memory.
As tonight is a celebratory event, I will stay with the Anzac theme but turn attention to the celebration of another aspect of service in the military – friendship, mateship, camaraderie: call it what you will.
Anyone who has heard individual accounts of Australians’ experience in the military will quickly understand how crucial mateship and friendship were to these men and women.
So I confidently assert that the importance of camaraderie in the military was the driving force behind the establishment of this club in 1892, when Queensland’s 7th Governor was, fittingly, a military man – General Sir Henry Wylie Norman.
He had served heroically in India, and as a steady hand, led colonial Queensland through a turbulent period of its own.
What better way to extend that camaraderie than to provide a comfortable and stimulating haven in the city for serving and retired officers. And then, the extremely significant broadening of the Club’s membership policy in the 1970s brought in new friends from the community, but still under the aegis of that all-important word in the Club’s name – “United”.
Kaye and I vividly recall the change in the Club’s membership at that time. I joined the Club in, I think, 1971, as a raw QUR subaltern. Kaye was wonderfully supportive. We dined here regularly and accumulated a stock of Club china at home, thanks to take away oysters, steak and chicken – a delicacy in those days. The china has all been returned, I should make clear. And then the Club was so far sighted to diversify the membership.
I was greatly honoured to assume the Patron’s role when I was Chief Justice, and now as your Governor.
This is a tremendously successful Club, and the Committee – successive committees, deserve enthusiastic commendation for that. The spirit of the Club remains vibrantly strong in 2015, about 45 years after my own callow entry.
That spirit is embodied in these convivial surroundings and your generous hospitality to Kaye, and to me, as that callow Lieutenant now Governor.
We wish you all an enjoyable evening. And we wish the United Service Club every success in the future under that marvellous banner of friendship in union.