Reception for the Queensland University Regiment 70th birthday
President QUR Association, Brigadier Luttrell; Patron of the Association, Brigadier Harrison; Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Denner; Commanding Officer 9th Battalion Royal Queensland Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Kirby; distinguished guests.
Welcome to Government House!
Kaye and I are most honoured to have you here – so many of us friends from the past, and so many enduring friendships, and all of us concerned to acknowledge QUR as an outstanding contributor over so many years to the public good.
Our celebration of this Regiment’s three score and 10 years this afternoon actually follows an impeccable precedent.
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales had an early celebration of his 70th birthday in this very room on Friday, 6 April this year, along with others of 1948 vintage, including me.
That year of the Regiment’s establishment on 1 May 1948 was just three decades after the end of World War I. ANZACs figured prominently in battles in 1918 that finally broke German resistance. We will commemorate the centenary of that event later this year.
In 1948, Australians still felt keenly the long shadow cast by another global conflict, World War II, during which, at grievous cost, our armed forces proved that they were worthy heirs of the spirit of those first ANZACs.
The Queensland University Regiment has proudly upheld the ANZAC spirit since its establishment – then on 1 May 1948 as ‘A Company QUR’ under the command of then Captain Jack Kelly. And afterwards, on 1 May 1950, when it achieved Regimental numbers, QUR was led by Lieutenant Colonel Gus Gehrmann, the first CO of QUR; and I remember it was he who as Registrar of UQ went on to sign our graduation certificates – I couldn’t check that directly in my own case because mine are in the shipping container at the end of the estate pending our departure from here!
I have spoken before about the life skills my time in the Regiment instilled in me – and I am far from alone in that experience.
Indeed, may I self-indulgently observe that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the commissioning in QUR of three retired officers here tonight, Lieutenant Colonel John Byrne, Major John Dowsett and Lieutenant de Jersey, and along with many others present, we all acknowledge the personal fruits of that particular life-changing experience; though the last fellow, the Lieutenant, apparently displayed a lack of ambition – it maybe advancement was forestalled when he drilled his men one cold winter’s morning at Greenbank in front of the CO’s tent.
Lives were and are changed in other important ways by service in the Regiment, important I mean as the expression of a shared commitment to duty to our country, to something larger than merely our young selves.
This celebration this evening provides an opportunity to share stories, to catch up with old friends, to remember those old soldiers who have faded away, and to honour with respect their legacy of commitment.
And so this evening we jointly acknowledge a number of things: enduring friendships, unremitting dedication, pride in optimal personal achievement, and in the end, loyalty – to one another, and to the overall mission, true to our oaths and affirmations, to serve Australia.
On your behalf, may I express now my gratitude to the Association founders, Brigadier Sam Harrison and Lieutenant Colonel Ian Bunce, and to all who have held office over the past 35 years.
And incidentally, this year I think generally marks the 50th anniversary of Brigadier Harrison’s command – then the revered Commanding Officer of quite a number of us, and the 50th anniversary, also, of his marriage with the wonderfully supportive Jennifer! What a marvellous couple they have been, in Regimental history, for so long!
As Governor, as someone who is ‘of an age’ with the Regiment and who has had the privilege of serving in its ranks, I thank and congratulate all who have contributed to our Regiment’s seven decades of wonderful service to Australia.
Speaking of things Queensland – and we tend to do quite a bit of that here, and I acknowledge that I am moving off message somewhat, but please indulge me again: I was pleased to see, in this morning’s national press, an acclaimed Sydney restaurant showcasing Queensland wine. We have a policy here of serving at least 80 per cent Queensland produce including wine – and we regularly exceed that target.
This evening, ladies and gentlemen, you are being served Ravenscroft Tempranillo from the Granite Belt, Golden Grove Chardonnay from Ballandean, and Clovely bubbly from the South Burnett. The national press – the regional press: we hosted a number of Western mayors to dinner here in June, and our tribute to Queensland produce made its way into the Warwick ‘Bush Telegraph’. That meant a lot to Kaye and me.
Returning to the reason we are here tonight, this unit is significant for its public commitment, and its people – service men and women, and importantly also their spouses, partners and families – bound together by the realisation of a worthwhile goal, a goal wholly achieved – and in no sense, using the contemporary expression, an ‘own goal’.
Would you please join me in honouring, in its proud 70th year, the Queensland University Regiment … ‘our Regiment!’