Honours and Awards within the Australian Honours System Investiture Ceremony (A) for Residents of Queensland
Representing the Premier of Queensland, Ms Melissa McMahon MP; Representing the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Jonathon Krause MP; Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Kaye and I warmly welcome today’s awardees, their proud families, friends and colleagues, and our special guests, whose presence adds further stature to this ceremony.
I begin at once by acknowledging the traditional owners of the lands and waters of Brisbane, and express my respect for Elders.
This is a happy event as well as an important one. We at Government House look forward to investitures for both of those reasons. We make meticulous preparations to ensure that each of them is memorable, and is conducted with the appropriate dignity.
There is no danger whatsoever of our becoming blasé about these wonderful ceremonies. Even so, it is enlightening to try to appreciate these awards through fresh eyes.
So let us imagine, for the moment, that we have some hypothetical visitors today who have no familiarity at all with Australia’s award systems. What would their impressions be?
If we beamed them down here before the ceremony, they would encounter this magnificent house and its magnificent grounds, and a group of people filled with pride and happiness.
Striking up conversations, the visitors would encounter people whose backgrounds included biochemistry, swimming at the Olympics, the role of ombudsman, beekeeping, and Australian Rules football.
Or others who included a food and tourism TV presenter, a thoracic medicine specialist, a knitter of trauma bears, and two individuals supporting community organisations in Brisbane’s bayside and on the Sunshine Coast.
In this Investiture Room, our visitors might encounter families speaking of loved ones with backgrounds in cricket, the support of Queenslanders with low vision, the building industry, and service to Rotary.
In the front rows here, they would also find a world championship level archer, and individuals supporting the global eradication of poliomyelitis, the welfare of older Queenslanders, and those living with lymphoedema or leukaemia.
And yet others with backgrounds in veterinary science, paediatric neurosurgery, support for veterans, psychiatry and mental health, and the education of young women.
Faced with this bewildering diversity, our visitors might be justified in asking: what is going on here?
The penny would drop as the investiture ceremony got under way. They would realise that today’s event is something quite out of the ordinary - honouring people who are also quite out of the ordinary.
They would be impressed by the humility of today’s awardees. They might be surprised to find that, in Australia’s Honours and Awards system, the nominations were made by members of the community, not by governments.
Our imaginary guests having served their purpose, let us focus on the real ones sitting in front of me.
All of today’s awardees have, in their own way, in different locations and in very different spheres of activity, made marvellous contributions to their communities through dedicated service and notable achievement.
The scale of the debt that the community owes them has become more evident with every citation read out today.
But they have not left us ‘in the red’ as debts usually do. Our awardees have no intention of seeking repayment. And it is a debt which enhances rather than depletes the community’s wealth – wealth in compassion, in generosity, in commitment to excellence, and in achievement.
That is why it is my great privilege, as Governor, speaking for all Queenslanders, to congratulate today’s awardees and to thank them most sincerely for the marvellous service and achievement for which they have been honoured today.
I ask them not to let the physical symbols of their awards gather dust, but to make them a force for good by wearing them with pride and inspiring others by sharing their stories.
For now, though, on this very special day, I invite them to bask in the great pride and gratitude of those around them.