Reception for the 10th Anniversary of the University of Southern Queensland School of Law and Justice
Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mortensen, other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for the very kind invitation that I join you in this wonderful City for tonight’s highly significant occasion.
I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of these lands, and pay respects to their Elders, past and present. In doing so, I acknowledge USQ’s own advancement of meaningful reconciliation, notably through its pathway programs and outreach.
Like the Office of Governor, Queensland’s nine universities are the repositories of a rich body of tradition.
For example, the use of heraldic devices which nowadays frame a university’s identity, harks back to medieval times, when coats of arms conveyed allegiance and power, particularly during conflict.
Thankfully in Australia, conflict on our campuses is contained to the battle of ideas: may that battle be ever waged, and never won!
However, devices like coats of arms remain an important link between universities and the history and tradition they seek to evoke, and the future they seek to shape.
The phoenix which features prominently on this University’s coat of arms, provides us with interesting reflection in terms of tonight’s occasion.
The opening of the School of Law and Justice in 2007 was a major event for the University and our State.
Like the phoenix, the School’s rise to prominence has been remarkable for its rapidity and the exhilaration of its growth, and our Chancellor has already recounted tonight some of the School’s many achievements to date.
I add that as Chief Justice I was privileged to chart the School’s development, firstly through my attendance at its opening in 2007, and at many other events here in Toowoomba. I subsequently admitted many USQ graduates at the Banco Court in Brisbane.
I am proud to have been admitted myself to an honorary doctorate of the University, indeed by former Chancellor Ms Bobbie Brazil, present with us today – Ms Brazil whom I was in turn honoured to invest with her AO at Government House only last week.
It has been clear to me on all these occasions that the School was making a positive and worthwhile contribution to legal education in our State, with its students advantageously grounded in solid legal principle.
And that is, if I may say, what ultimately matters: not any encyclopaedic knowledge of the law, but understanding of the principles, mostly rooted in widely accepted norms of social justice and fairness, which motivate, should motivate, legislators and judges as they define the law we need to ensure a basically good society.
And consistently with this approach, Professor Mortensen, I was very pleased to learn of this School’s judicious move to instate Legal History as a core course from next year.
In short, the establishment of the School of Law has proven to be a progressive and beneficial turn for the University. I thank everybody involved, particularly the University administration, and the self-evidently dedicated academic contingent.
Ten years ago, I confess I paused for a brief moment, as Chief Justice, and asked myself: does Queensland need another law school? What you have achieved has absolutely dispelled that momentary concern. Well done!
There is wonderful circularity in my returning now as Governor, where my remit to acknowledge and support extends well beyond the legal sphere.
And so tonight I also congratulate the University on its remarkable contribution to our State through 50 years of higher education.
Again like the phoenix, the University has over that time reinvented itself many times, beginning as a College of the Queensland Institute of Technology, progressing to the Darling Downs College of Advanced Education, and for the past 25 years as the University of Southern Queensland.
The University’s importance is, I suggest, most graphic here in Toowoomba, and increasingly in Springfield and Ipswich.
But its reach and influence is unashamedly global, a fact recognised through the University’s inclusion this year in The Times Higher Education list of the top 200 universities in the world under 50 years old – an achievement of which all Queenslanders should be proud.
On that uplifting note, I congratulate everyone involved in organising tonight’s memorable event. It now gives me great pleasure to unveil this commemorative plaque, recognising the significant contributions the University of Southern Queensland’s School of Law and Justice has made to our State over the past decade – may that continue for many decades to come. Thank you.