Queensland Justices Association Centennial Celebration Dinner
It is nostalgic for me, as Governor, to be speaking at this centenary celebration of the Association of which I was Patron from 2004 to 2014, and that included opening the State conference in 2004, 2006 and 2012.
I am honoured by the invitation that I be here tonight and perform this role.
I think it is a trap, on these anniversary occasions, to focus unduly on the corporate entity.
That entity derives its relevance, its significance, from its members.
Indeed, this ‘entity’s’ governing council is run by people, or as we used to term them in my days in the law, ‘natural persons’.
This centenary celebration is therefore, in my view, an acknowledgement of very many people, over 10 decades, and their contribution to the common good.
A major feature of that contribution is its voluntariness.
Over my years of community involvement, I have come to appreciate acutely the enormous extent to which governments necessarily rely on volunteers within the community to carry out much of the work many people would ordinarily expect a government itself to undertake.
I commend you all for your willingness to undertake your role on an altruistic basis.
Your office, ladies and gentlemen, is of ancient origin, dating back to 14th century England, when the so-called ‘keepers of the peace’ were intended to forestall the commission of crime.
The role evolved over the centuries in England to the point where justices came to fulfil an important role in criminal court adjudication, and that position subsists to the present day.
Justices in England were traditionally land owners without substantial knowledge of the law, who by the 19th century could wield immense power.
It was corruption among the justices which led in England to the development of a professional magistracy.
But justices continue in England to play a substantial role, including the criminal justice system.
In Queensland, those ancient origins of your office translate to the contemporary era.
As some forces apparently intent on disrupting our generally ordered 21st century society appear to be working ever more insidiously, the responsibility resting on these who authenticate things like passport applications, powers of attorney and declarations is accentuated, as with the role of issuing summonses and warrants.
You know that Judges, for example, rely in their approach to court documents, on an assumption of authenticity, and it will in many instances be your work which means that assumption can reliably be made.
I have been concerned tonight to acknowledge your individual personal commitment, and it is that commitment which has led this important Association to its centenary.
The Association, through its leaders, has discharged a very beneficial role, over these many years, in keeping Justices informed of current trends and requirements, giving them a voice with government, and ensuring their qualifications are there – and kept up to date.
And how things have changed, from when I was ‘very young’, and the coveted post-nominals were secured very often simply by an approach to an obliging MP – no doubt most of the appointees were very good people, but now a transformed system, of which you are all part, is serving us all so very well.
I congratulate the successive office bearers of the Association over the decades, for their dedication, and you, ladies and gentlemen, for your selflessness.
I ask you to rise and join with me now, in celebrating the Association’s – your – commitment over 100 years to core public values.
. . . ‘The Association’ . . .