Honours and Awards within the Australian Honours System - Investiture Ceremony for Residents of Queensland
Ann Leahy, Member for Warrego; Mayor Annie Liston; Deputy Commissioner Peter Martin; Assistant Commissioner Tony Wright; Deputy Commissioner Mark Roche; Acting Deputy Commissioner Dee Taylor-Dutton; distinguished guests; our recipients and their proud families, friends and community members.
I at once acknowledge the Traditional Owners of these lands, the Bidjara people, and express respectful greetings to Elders, past and present.
One of the genuine pleasures and privileges of my role as Governor of Queensland is the opportunity it affords Kaye and me to visit regional and remote parts of our State. It is never less than inspiring to spend time with the men, women and children of those communities who make such an essential contribution to Queensland and to Australia.
Charleville was one of the very first regional centres Kaye and I visited after my appointment as Governor in July twenty-fourteen.
On that occasion, I saw the courage, the determination, and the indomitable optimism of the people of Charleville.
That spirit has characterised this town since its foundation in 1865, enduring the repeated cycle of drought and flood with stoicism and an unshakeable belief in the future.
It was a spirit also seen in World War One when no fewer than three hundred and ten men from this area volunteered to serve God, King and Country – and forty of them did not return.
For a community that, even now, numbers fewer than four thousand souls, that was a truly remarkable contribution and I’m pleased that one of my predecessors, Governor Matthew Nathan, clearly shared my pride in this community. In nineteen twenty-four, long before the availability of air travel to the distant parts of our State, he travelled to Charleville to officially open the magnificent marble war memorial that, today, still honours those who served.
Today’s Investiture Ceremony continues that proud tradition – the people receiving honours are motivated by the same values that prompted those three hundred and ten men to volunteer more than a century ago and that still inspire this community.
And consistently, it is highly appropriate that we gather today in the Charleville Returned Services League Club, made even more so appropriate because yesterday, the Queensland Government announced the Angellala Creek Bridge will be renamed Heroes Bridge… because that’s what our recipients are today, they are heroes.
When I first read the citations for the awards to be presented today I decided immediately that I would not ask these exemplary Australians to travel to Brisbane to receive their awards at Government House; I decided instead that we would bring the award ceremony to them, to give the people of Charleville the opportunity to publicly honour and thank the heroes of the fifth of September, twenty-fourteen.
The Star of Courage, Commendations for Brave Conduct and Group Bravery citations awarded today are national awards and are a mark of the respect and admiration of the entire nation.
The Star of Courage, in particular, is awarded only for conspicuous courage in circumstances of great peril.
It has been awarded only a hundred and fifty-five times since it was introduced, just over forty years ago – and five of those decorations are being presented today, in relation to a single event.
That statistic alone brings home the extremely hazardous nature of the incident and the exceptional action taken by the four firefighters and the truck-drivers. The award of the Star of Courage brings with it the right to use the letters ‘SC’ after your name, and I hope the six of you will do this – it is not a sign of pride or boastfulness; it is a symbol of Australia’s gratitude to you.
Equally, I hope that those of you receiving Commendations for Brave Conduct and Group Bravery citations will not let those awards sit, unloved, in a drawer, but will display them.
It is important for us all to remember that brave actions are not premeditated; they are the result of instinctive decisions, sometimes indeed in hindsight irrational, that stem from a profound sense of altruism and humanity.
Each of you has put the well-being of others ahead of your own safety and, in the process, has shown us all that we can be a better, more compassionate nation – and for that, on behalf of all Queenslanders, I congratulate and thank you.