Honours and Awards within the Australian Honours System - Investiture Ceremony (C) for Residents of Queensland
Good afternoon to our official guests, and our proud recipients and their wonderfully supportive families and friends.
As Governor of Queensland, I have a wide range of constitutional, community and ceremonial duties as the representative of our Head of State, Her Majesty The Queen.
Among those many responsibilities, the one in which I take the greatest pride and pleasure is to present honours and awards to Queenslanders for their outstanding achievements and exceptional service.
Today’s ceremony – which is also being livestreamed – is one of five such ceremonies that Kaye and I are delighted to be hosting here at Fernberg this week, and we welcome you all most warmly to Government House. We further congratulate you, on behalf of all Queenslanders, on the honours you have been awarded.
It is now forty-one years since Australia’s distinctive honours system was established by The Queen.
That date, the 14th of February, 1975, marked an important break with tradition because, until then, Australian citizens received British Imperial honours; after that date, Australians were recognised through our own national system.
The very first honours created were under the Order of Australia and it is very pleasing to be presenting no fewer than twenty-one awards at three of the four different levels of our national Order – Officer of the Order (AO), Member of the Order (AM), and Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
These awards are announced twice each year (one on Australia Day and the other in June, to mark the Queen’s Official Birthday).
However the twenty-second honour to be presented today is the Australian Antarctic Medal, an award which is always announced on a date of particular significance for Antarctic expeditioners: the twenty-first of June – the longest, darkest day of mid-winter for those living and working on the icy southern continent.
The selection of this significant date for the announcement is just one example of the extent of the symbolic detail which surrounds our Australian awards. Every one of the fifty-seven medals within the Australian honours system has symbolic meaning and has been designed with great care.
The Order of Australia ribbons at all levels are distinctively Australian with starbursts of gold on a ground of intense blue to represent our national flower and the vast blue skies we associate with our homeland.
The Antarctic Medal was designed with equal care.
Its snow-white ribbon is edged with blue – a truly beautiful representation of the vast white landscape of the southern continent. And the images in the design on the medal even include an ice crystal!
The care and attention to detail in the design of the medals and ribbons is carried through to the ceremony today with staff here at Government House checking every last detail to ensure that this is a memorable day for each of you and the families and friends you have invited to share the occasion with you. This is particularly so for the family of Mr Leslie Smith – it is an honour to be able to present them with his Order of Australia Medal posthumously.
I once again congratulate you all on the honours you have received and thank you for the contribution you have made to Australia and to your fellow Australians through your efforts – and it is so inspiring to see this done across such a wide scope of endeavour.
You are all truly wonderful Queenslanders – indeed wonderful people, and Kaye and I look forward to meeting you all during afternoon tea.