Reception for Participants Attending the 2019 Annual Conference of Deans of the Anglican Church of Australia
Deans, ladies and gentlemen. I am very pleased, with Kaye, to welcome you all to Government House this afternoon. Of course, we wish you well for the annual conference, and we are delighted it is occurring once again in Queensland in Brisbane.
No doubt you will explore a great range of intrinsically significant issues – as the Governors do annually at what we call our ‘gatherings’ – next time for us in Hobart in September.
Fed by my experience over 16 years as a State Chief Justice, I was early convinced these meetings can be greatly productive, productive that is for our people – that is, notwithstanding occasional journalistic tilts the other way.
By the way, pundits strived unsuccessfully – I assert unsuccessfully – over many years to assign a credible collective noun to a meeting of Chief Justices – does that mean we were generally considered anodyne? I won’t mention some of the less than complimentary suggestions.
So you can imagine my delight upon discovering that a gathering of Deans is called a ‘decorum’ – how wonderfully befitting!
Not only decorous, but to an appropriate degree adventurous – sometimes no doubt to the bemusement of bishops and archbishops. The Anglican Dean of my boyhood here was Dean Bill Baddeley, from 1958 to 1967. He was generally known as the ‘Racing Dean’ for his penchant for the track. He wouldn’t have minded that, for that persona informed his other more significant role. Deans, your being embedded in our communities is critical to your effectiveness.
I wish you well as you explore many issues, predominantly, the promotion and indeed ‘saleability’ of that critical social welfare inner-city mission, and the sustenance and we all hope development of our significant Cathedral communities.
Kaye and I have been very fortunate over the years to visit not only our great Australian Cathedrals, but also in the UK, continental Europe and Washington and New Zealand.
Kaye told me this morning that her favorite, outside Australia, is probably Wells – the Deputy Official Secretary’s choice in Chartres.
Understandably we have great personal affection for St John’s in Brisbane, though we have yet to visit the junior ‘model’ – Truro in Cornwall – and may I mention St Paul’s in Rockhampton and St James’s in Townsville – contrasting gems in presentation.
Speaking of social welfare and working Cathedrals, we vividly recall the hand-wringing which attended the decision here in I think the late 1980s, to fill the nave once a year for the consumption of fish and chips at the ‘Loaves and Fishes’ luncheon, initially focused on Cathedral completion, and in recent years, the alleviation of disadvantage.
And even beyond that, St John’s here is a vibrant hub of community cultural endeavour.
Kaye’s and my affiliations are well-known, and we are accordingly very pleased indeed to welcome you all, Deans, as you seek to sustain and enthuse our inner-city communities especially, and in so doing, nurture the faithful and reassure and encourage all our people.
This Government House, by the way, dates from 1865, though acquired by the Government for this purpose more recently in 1910. The Anglican Diocese of Brisbane was established in 1858, and St John’s Cathedral was completed in 2005, after a century under construction. Unsurprisingly, allowing for colonial separation in 1859, there is some alignment in those timelines.
And so for more than a century, while Fernberg has sought to offer secular leadership with the backing of the State, St John’s – as with all Cathedral churches, has offered spiritual leadership with the backing of ... faith.
Over the last five years of my primary term, 80,000 Queenslanders have visited their Government House. I sense that simply being here has enthused and energized them.
Your Cathedrals are comparably enthralling.
Your basic challenge, like mine, is to ‘exploit’ these built resources for optimal results for our people – while acknowledging your additional unique challenge, to spark spiritual awareness.
Kaye and I welcome you most warmly to Government House Queensland. Please enjoy our hospitality!
Now I know that our Dean very kindly requested a quote ‘right of reply’. I understand he was politely denied that, on the basis only the Governor speaks – how very vice-regal is that! Our Dean would have been reliably concise, though our experience from some years ago has been, in relation to others, shall we say, mixed! Suffice it to say that Kaye and I know that you are very pleased to be with us here this evening.