Reception in Honour of the Queensland University Regiment (QUR) and the QUR Association
Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Pearce, Your Honours, Major Generals, Air Commodore, Brigadiers, ladies and gentlemen. Kaye and I warmly welcome to Government House this afternoon old friends and new friends who, like us, have a close connection with the Queensland University Regiment and the QUR Association. I am so pleased that I have the opportunity, through this current role, to do so.
I joined the University Regiment in my first year as an undergraduate, in 1966. That was half a century ago – almost ancient history.
But I recall feeling then – as I still believe – that choosing to serve in the Regiment was one of my best decisions in life. I repeat, in case Kaye missed it: “one” of my best decisions.
In many speeches as Governor, including at my swearing-in on Speaker’s Green, I have acknowledged that my time in the University Regiment was a great formative experience.
It engendered a strong sense of camaraderie, and produced long-standing friendships.
This afternoon I acknowledge the QUR Association’s marvellous work in making it possible for those friendships and that camaraderie to endure and thrive, even as many of us have gone our vastly separate ways in life.
I extend very special thanks to the ‘founding fathers’ of the Association, Brigadier Sam Harrison and Lieutenant Colonel Ian Bunce, to all the founding members of the Association, and to all those who have served as office-holders since 1983.
My service with the Regiment, as is common amongst all of us here tonight, also gave me skills which have proven invaluable in my subsequent careers.
The ability to eat eggs liberally garnished with cigarette ash, courtesy of an army cook of that 60s-70s era, is not among them.
The capacity as an overly enthusiastic platoon sergeant to drill his men at 6am in front of the CO’s tent on an icy winter’s morning at Wacol was a talent soon foregone – on immediately proffered advice.
But self-discipline, teamwork, and leadership certainly have endured, and those skills have helped support and sustain me throughout my working life. That will have been a shared experience.
I must say that one of the attractions to me in taking on this role was the preparedness to remain, as Official Secretary, of former Commanding Officer of Amberley and most distinguished military serviceman, Air Commodore Gower. He won’t mind my recounting the Mess Dinner at Amberley where, Mr Vice, having acknowledged my ascent in the Regiment to the exalted rank of Lieutenant, then fined me for “want of ambition”… all in good humour!
I am immensely proud to be Honorary Air Commodore of the 23rd City of Brisbane Squadron, as I am to be Representative Colonel of the Royal Queensland Regiment. I need to wear those uniforms a bit more!
My own service in the Regiment resonates in another important way in my role as Governor.
It has deepened the already great pride and emotion with which I speak for the people of Queensland when paying tribute to the sacrifice of Australians who have served their country in peace and in war, most recently by my presence this very morning at the 50th Vietnam Commemoration at ANZAC Square; but regularly, as on this Monday morning gone, with the Bulimba State School community, now 150 years old, unveiling at the school assembly a Great War Honour Board.
Speaking at the Dawn Service on the Centenary of Gallipoli, and participation in recent centenary commemorations of the terrible battles of the Western Front, are two outstanding examples of the extraordinary privilege Kaye and I have of representing our people in these situations – “our people” of course importantly including our young Queenslanders whom we regularly meet at our schools, where I repeat this message – invariably to a receptive and respectful audience.
Tonight, however, is a commemoration of a different kind, a chance to tender a glass to the Regiment – which I am sure will be accepted – and to share, with good friends, stories and reminiscences, maybe some of them even true.
Kaye and I encourage you, while reminiscing, to enjoy our wonderful Government House hospitality. Thank you all, as I am honoured now to propose a toast to… “the Regiment”.