Honours and Awards within the Australian Honours System - Investiture Ceremony (B) for Residents of Queensland
Mr Ian Walker, representing the Opposition Leader; official guests; and our wonderful recipients and their proud supporters. Good morning. It is a great pleasure to welcome you all to Government House for today’s Investiture Ceremony.
These ceremonies are among the most significant events in our annual calendar here at Government House. They are important because they give me, as Governor, the great privilege of presenting awards to the wonderful Queenslanders who have made an outstanding contribution to their community, to the State and to the nation. They also give me the opportunity to thank and congratulate them, both personally and on behalf of their fellow Queenslanders, some of whom are watching right now, this ceremony being “livestreamed”.
As you have heard, the honours presented today include a Star of Courage, a rare decoration which has been awarded only 139 times in the forty years since the Australian honours system was instituted.
Awarded posthumously, as awards for bravery, sadly, often are, that Star of Courage honoured a young bomber pilot who died on a training flight in England seventy-one years ago, during World War II. When he diverted his plummeting aircraft away from a nearby village and deliberately crashed it into a field, he gave his life to save many others. (And I recognise today Councillor Mike Cornwell who, with Mrs Cornwell, travelled from Fenland District Shire in the UK to be with us, representing the town of March where the plane went down – and also Mrs Joyce Milligan, from the Sunshine Coast, who nominated Pilot Officer Hocking, in the process writing, I understand, directly to Her Majesty The Queen!).
I single out this award for mention this morning not only because of the extraordinary courage demonstrated by Pilot Officer Hocking, but because his story exemplifies one of the qualities that we most respect as a nation and that our Australian system was created to honour – the quality of altruism, of putting others before the self.
We see this not only in the courageous actions of men and women who receive decorations for bravery, but in the commitment of those who have dedicated their lives, their passion, their energy to making a difference in their community, in their workplace, or in their chosen profession or career.
The awardees at today’s ceremony are honoured for a range of outstanding contributions: service to cardio-thoracic medicine, to muscular dystrophy research and support, to nursing in developing countries, to the Queensland Public Service, and the Australian Defence Force; service to seniors and the aged, to women and children, veterans, the environment, the legal profession, sport, education, religious institutions, and social welfare. That is an extraordinary range.
The honours presented today are also exceptional in their range, with no fewer than nine of the fifty-five awards in our system represented – the Star of Courage, three different honours within the Order of Australia, a Public Service medal, two different Distinguished Service decorations and two different Conspicuous Service awards. When combined with the many different fields of endeavour through which you have contributed as recipients, we can see just how much richer Australia is as a nation because of what each of you has done.
Today, you have joined a community of honour and your contribution has now been recorded, formally, as part of our national history. Your service will also become part of your family’s proud history, remembered and respected for generations to come and encouraging others to act as you have done through leadership, a commitment to excellence, determination, perseverance, dedication, and care for others.
Congratulations, once again. Please accept this morning’s hospitality as a sign of the broader community’s gratitude. And I encourage you to continue to familiarise yourselves with Fernberg’s latest addition, police recruit dog Gavel! Thank you.