Honours and Awards within the Australian Honours System - Investiture Ceremony for Residents of North Queensland
Member for Townsville, Mr Scott Stewart MP; Mayor of Townsville, Councillor Hill; official guests; award recipients and their wonderfully supportive family and friends,
I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land and waters of Townsville, and express my respect for Elders.
Kaye and I are always delighted to spend time in North Queensland, never more so than on this special occasion when it is my privilege to publicly recognise outstanding North Queenslanders by presenting them with awards under Australia’s Honours System.
Before commencing my remarks, I also acknowledge one of our official guests who has travelled a very long distance to join us today - the Mayor of Aurukun, Mr Dereck Walpo, whose travel distance of 829 miles, is further than those of us who have travelled from Brisbane, a distance of 690 miles.
That all of us have travelled these distances cheerfully – indeed, with glad anticipation – is a signal of how very much we appreciate the service of each and every one of the awardees honoured today, and the importance we place on thanking you.
As the representative of Her Majesty The Queen, the Sovereign Head of the Order of Australia, it is my great privilege to present these awards on her behalf and on behalf of the nation and the State.
These awards are rich in the symbolism of Australia.
Those of you receiving an Award in the Order of Australia, the Public Service Medal, the Emergency Service Medal and the Australian Corrections Medal, will find on your medals references to the Golden Wattle, our national floral emblem.
The wattle can withstand Australia's droughts, winds and bushfires; its resilience represents the spirit of the Australian people.
For millennia, Indigenous Australians used the wattle for sustenance, and understood the protective, antiseptic qualities of its bark.
And just a few days on from Anzac Day, we remember that soldiers were sent sprigs of wattle from their mothers, wives and sweethearts as a reminder of the love back home.
Like the community and public service of each of the individuals we honour today, the wattle is versatile and resilient; it sustains and nourishes – and as one species of a large genus of flora growing across Australia, the golden wattle is a symbol of unity – and so today, it also represents your community, unified in gratitude for your dedication and leadership.
Your service adorns your communities in the same way the wattle adorns the Australian bush.
For the recipients of the Australian Fire Service medal, the symbology of your award is different. It is the seven-pointed star of flames, surmounted by the crown, and I enjoin you to notice that the flames are captured on your ribbon by bands of green, a symbol of healing and growth, acknowledging your contribution to protecting our community and our country from damaging fire. I thank each of you for your distinguished service.
For all of our recipients, and your families and friends, this is a day of acknowledgement and celebration, but it is important to remember that the honour you have received goes far beyond this ceremony.
From today, you are entitled, always, to use the post-nominals that denote your achievement and to wear your medals at every appropriate opportunity, as a constant reminder that your community values you and what you have achieved.
Wearing your medals also serves to inspire others. As a nation, we need people, like you, who have worked to achieve excellence, to encourage others through their example.
On behalf of all Queenslanders, and especially on behalf of the wonderful communities of North Queensland, I congratulate today’s recipients for their leadership, service and community spirit. You are all remarkable individuals and a source of inspiration to us all.