Honours and Awards within the Australian Honours System Investiture Ceremony (C) for Residents of Queensland
Representing the Premier, Ms Kim Richards MP; Representing the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Trevor Watts MP; Commissioner, Deputy-Commissioner, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land and waters of Brisbane, and express my respect for their Elders.
Kaye and I are delighted to welcome you all to Government House today for what is most certainly a very happy ceremony.
Investitures aren’t a daily occurrence. On the contrary — they signify the highest honours and awards an Australian can achieve. As Governor of Queensland and representative of our Head of State, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, I therefore consider this not only a very happy ceremony but also an extremely important one.
These Honours and awards have tremendous value. Their first purpose is to commend those who have made outstanding contributions to public life.
Their second purpose is to define, encourage and reinforce community values, as well as national aspirations and ideals, by acknowledging actions and achievements and thereby identifying positive role models.
Prior to 1975, Australians were recognised under the British honours system, also known as the Imperial Awards. The Order of Australia was established by Her Majesty four decades ago as ‘an Australian society of honour for according recognition to Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or meritorious service’.
That definition — the spirit of which encompasses all honours and awards bestowed today — says something meaningful about our people and what we stand for, admire and respect as a nation. It reflects the values that underpin Australian society and the extremely high regard in which we hold those who commit themselves to others.
Our honours and awards were specifically designed for the community to make their nominations. Australian investitures are free of patronage or political influence. They are very robust and protected by the highest levels of confidentiality and integrity. To give you an idea, the Australian Honours and Awards Secretariat at Government House in Canberra employs some 35 staff who, in an average year, spend an estimated 40,000 hours researching thousands of nominations.
Understandably, decisions about honours and awards are not made lightly. Recognition has to be earned — earned by exceptional individuals like you who have made a significant contribution to building a strong, cohesive, tolerant society which respects the equal worth, dignity and freedoms of every individual — distinctly Australian values that we all hold very close to our hearts.
The citations the Official Secretary has just read out demonstrate that excellence, achievement and outstanding community service occur across a wide range of endeavours.
There are many ways to be meritorious. However, the men and women acknowledged today have in common that they have contributed in a manner that is both unique and altruistic. In doing so, they have shown what it means to be a true Australian: a mate to many and of noble service to all.
Ladies and gentlemen, I congratulate you on your marvellous achievement and thank you wholeheartedly for the great things you have done and which I hope you will continue to do.
Please, don’t let the physical symbols of your awards gather dust but make them a force for good by wearing them with pride — and so inspire others.
Kaye and I are inspired by what you have achieved, and we acknowledge, with respect and gratitude, that through your service you have made Australia a better place in which to live. On behalf of the people of Queensland, on whose behalf I am privileged to speak, I congratulate you all, and invite you to enjoy the hospitality of Government House.