Afternoon Reception in Honour of Her Majesty The Queen’s Birthday
Representing the Premier, Minister Kate Jones; our 24th Governor and 25th Governor-General, Dame Quentin Bryce; former Administrator of Norfolk Island, the Honourable Gary Hardgrave; representing the Leader of the Opposition, Dr Christian Rowan MP; Your Honour; Your Grace; Directors-General; Commissioners; Service Chiefs; ladies and gentlemen. Kaye and I are particularly honoured, 75 years since the end of the Second World War, to welcome veteran, Mr George Churchward; thank you, Sir, for your service.
I at once acknowledge the traditional owners of these lands, and extend respectful greetings to Elders and emerging leaders.
Kaye and I are delighted to welcome you all to Government House this afternoon.
2020 shall forever be remembered for the disruption caused by coronavirus, leaving almost no aspect of life unaffected – travel restricted, work and schooling displaced, events cancelled and postponed.
And while this Queen’s Birthday reception was necessarily rescheduled from June, one aspect which this year has continued uninterrupted is Her Majesty’s unwavering support for the people she so graciously serves.
Back in April 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic was wreaking havoc throughout the world, Her Majesty released a rare video message from Windsor Castle.
The Queen’s calm strength and compassion were a source of great solace to people throughout the world, including here in the ‘Queen’s Land’, so named in 1859 to honour her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria.
As the 26th representative of the Sovereign in our State, I was honoured, last November, with Kaye, to receive a third audience with The Queen at Buckingham Palace.
Her Majesty remained as ever knowledgeable of our State, especially of the bushfires then affecting so many communities.
The Queen expressed her deep and abiding affection for the Queensland people, drawn from her remarkable now 67-year reign as monarch and on her eight visits to our State. Incidentally, the first Governor to host Her Majesty in Queensland, was Sir John Lavarack in 1954 – he was sworn in on this day, October 1, in 1946.
Her Majesty’s successful reign continues to be marked by impeccable, gracious and dignified service, which we today gather to once again publicly acknowledge.
Now speaking of matters historical, I am delighted to acknowledge today two additional important milestones.
Firstly, it gives me great pleasure to launch the latest Office of the Governor publication, ‘The Government House Collection: Items of Historical and Heritage Interest’, a copy of which you shall receive upon departure.
Secondly, I am also delighted to formally hand over to the Queensland State Archives, and thereby the people of Queensland, some of Queensland’s foundation documents.
These include an official copy of the original Letters Patent, signed by Queen Victoria on 6 June 1859, erecting the colony of Queensland, which the Premier was very keen for me to bring back from my visit last year to the UK National Archives at Kew Gardens.
The passage here of the document in vellum has been interrupted by coronavirus, but when that impressive document arrives in due course it will also be transmitted to our Archives.
I am also delighted today to deposit in the Archives the original Instructions – until now rarely seen in public – issued by Queen Victoria on 6 June 1859, and carried by Sir George Bowen, Queensland’s first Governor, to Moreton Bay aboard the Cordelia.
Through these Instructions, Sir George set in place the basics of the system of government we enjoy today, effectively establishing the institutions prescribed in our first Constitution. Queensland, of course, was the only Australian colony with representative democracy from its inception.
Remarkably, it appears these original Instructions – essentially private documents – returned to London with Sir George after stints as Governor of Queensland, New Zealand and later Victoria.
They were presented by Bowen’s descendants to the Queensland Women’s Historical Association in the 1960s, which gifted them to then Governor, Sir Walter Campbell, in 1992.
From today, for the first time, the State Archives will now hold the full suite of documents which together describe Queensland’s foundations.
I thank the Queensland State Archives for helpfully transcribing Bowen’s Instructions, and the Queensland Women’s Historical Association – both so effectively preserve our State’s heritage.
Before I present the copy of the Letters Patent and the original Bowen’s Instructions to Minister Jones, on behalf of the Premier, and before we have the great honour of reflecting on this historic occasion to the uplifting sounds of our beloved Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s brass quintet, I have the great honour of first proposing a toast to the continuing good health and inspiring leadership of our esteemed Head of State, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Australia. “The Queen”. Thank you.