Honours and Awards within the Australian Honours System: Investiture Ceremony C
Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, it is my pleasure, with Kaye, to welcome you to Government House, and I extend a special welcome to the family, friends and colleagues of our awardees, and to Professor Paul McNally OAM, representing the Order of Australia Association, Queensland Division.
I at once acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we gather, the Turrbul and Jagera people, and pay respect to their Elders past and present – with encouragement to their young emerging leaders, and I wish today to add reference to the Wakka Wakka people of Cherbourg, with Mr Eric Law one of our awardees.
We receive many marvellous visitors at Government House, and today’s guests, our most recent recipients of Australian Honours and Awards, are among the most respected.
Government House was built by a German immigrant by the name of Johann Christian Heussler.
Mr Heussler and his wife took up residence in 1865 and named their new house Fernberg – Fern, meaning distant or remote, and Berg, meaning mountain.
This room is known as the Investiture Room because ceremonies like today’s are its primary purpose.
But investitures are by no means a daily occurrence. On the contrary – they signify some of the highest recognitions one can receive.
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 standards, as well as national aspirations and ideals.
As Governor of Queensland and representative of our Head of State, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, I therefore consider this not only a very happy gathering, but also an extremely important one.
The men and women acknowledged here share a common characteristic – they have contributed in a manner that is both unique and altruistic.
They have given their time, intelligence and passion, some for many decades, in advocating for and supporting fields and causes as varied as research and education, welfare and social services, multicultural affairs, and sports and the arts.
They have shown what it means to be a true Australian – a friend to many and of noble service to all.
The Australian Honours System began in 1975 with the creation of the Order of Australia, to recognise service to the nation or humanity.
Other awards created at the time were the Australian Bravery Decorations and the National Medal.
Our system is unique in that it has been specifically designed for the community to make their nominations. Indeed, these are the people’s investitures – free of patronage or political influence.
Understandably, decisions about honours and awards are not made lightly.
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.
It shows how special today’s recipients are.
Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to congratulate you on your wonderful achievements, and thank you wholeheartedly for all you have done, and continue to do.
It is exceptional individuals like you who help build a strong, cohesive, tolerant society that respects the equal worth, dignity and freedoms of every individual – distinctly Australian values that we all hold very close to our hearts.