Speeches

The Governor is invited to speak at a wide range of significant official, ceremonial and community events, including the Opening of Parliament, ANZAC Day ceremonies and events for Patron groups. A selection of these speeches is available below in a searchable database.

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 at ANZAC Square, Brisbane

2021 ANZAC Day Dawn Service of Remembrance

The 25th of April is a date etched indelibly in the hearts and minds of all Queenslanders.

It was inscribed there in 1916. It was then that the Queensland government officially declared the day, “ANZAC Day”. It did so in honour of the valiant young ANZAC soldiers who scrabbled up the hills of Gallipoli, and in doing so created a legend.

Today as we stand together at ANZAC Square, in the darkness of the pre-dawn, our eyes are nevertheless drawn to the enduring glimmer of the Eternal Flame. Last year there were few eyes here to see it. But the flames of remembrance then burned in people’s hands, as they stood in lounge rooms and driveways, in silent respect.

Those scenes bore an earlier reflection in the ANZAC Day commemorations of 1919. That year, ANZAC Day was impacted by the sudden arrival of a new form of virus, the Spanish flu, which caused ceremonies to be scaled back in Australia.

Meanwhile on the same day on the other side of the world, a joyous celebration was taking place in London.

Five thousand Australian troops marched through the streets of London. They were urged on by wildly enthusiastic crowds, crowds who climbed the trees and buildings along the route to get a better look. The crowds roared their appreciation of the gallantry and heroism of the Australian soldiers. In response, the Australian Flying Corps put on a thrilling display of aerobatics. The flimsy aircraft dived so low that the flashing bayonets below them almost pierced their fabric undercarriages.

The man chosen to lead that 50-strong body of daring airmen was Harry Cobby. He was Australia’s leading fighter ace, a national hero. He was one of the new breed of fighting men, men who took to the skies with minimal training and the most rudimentary of planes.

Aerial combat created a new theatre of war. The call went up to form Australia’s own independent air force.

When Cobby and his fellow veterans returned to Australia, they helped lay the foundations for a flying branch of the Australian armed forces; and in 1921, the Royal Australian Air Force came into being.

This year we celebrate the Centenary of the RAAF, and we pay homage to its men and women.

Over the past 100 years, the planes and technology have changed beyond recognition. What hasn’t altered, is Air Force personnel’s commitment to service and their country.

RAAF Base Amberley, near Ipswich, is now the RAAF’s largest base. But at the outbreak of World War 2, the base comprised a mere handful of brick buildings.

Undeterred, in 1941 and ’42, personnel worked ten hours a day seven days a week assembling Kittyhawk and Dauntless aircraft, which they freely admitted they knew nothing about, at the start.

Within a month they were assembling ten a day, and Amberley had become responsible for training the aircrew in night flying, dive bombing and air gunnery.

At the same time, around 1941, after considerable lobbying, the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force was formed – providing women the opportunity to serve their nation. And they readily did, in their tens of thousands. 

Queensland played an integral part in Australia’s air defence of the Pacific – and of our own shores.

Horn Island – just off Queensland’s most northern mainland tip – was an important staging base for Allied aircraft and troops throughout the Second World War.

Its strategic location also made it vulnerable to aerial assault.

From March 1942, Horn Island would be attacked by Japanese aircraft on at least eight occasions – the second hardest hit Australian region after Darwin. Townsville and Mossman would also come under direct attack.  

In March of 1942, with these threats swirling to Queensland’s north, the RAAF 75 Squadron was formed in our garrison City, Townsville, and 76 Squadron was formed in Brisbane.

Both Squadrons would become vital in the Battle of Milne Bay, in modern day Papua New Guinea, the first land defeat of Japanese forces in the Second World War. That victory inspired Allied forces across the world.

In the later stages of World War 2, from the island of Nuemfoor, off Dutch New Guinea, Australia’s first known Aboriginal pilot, Len Waters, flew more than 90 missions – including in one instance, remaining airborne for more than two hours with a Japanese 37-millimetre cannon shell wedged undetonated in the cockpit.

Remarkable stories, all of them, stories of people we now proclaim as remarkable – breathtakingly so.

And so today, in commemorations all across Queensland, Australia, and many parts of the Commonwealth, ANZAC Day gives us, so many years on, the opportunity to reflect on the lives and service of allthe men, and women, connected to our Australian Defence forces.

The ANZAC spirit that was born in Gallipoli finds its expression in every Australian who fights in service of our country.

In its centenary year, while we pause a little longer in acknowledgement of the RAAF, our gratitude and unalloyed respect belong to all who have served, all who are serving.

We further turn our minds to those personnel who, for the moment, are still deployed in Afghanistan. They will return to a nation grateful for their service, and a nation very much aware of the human cost of our longest war – 42 Australian lives lost, and many more physically and mentally wounded.  

Looking down into ANZAC Square from our Shrine of Remembrance, we see three paths leading through the formal gardens to where I now stand.

Each path represents a different branch of the Australian Armed Forces – Army, Navy and Air Force.

The paths combine at the foot of these stairs, and unite in their ascent to the Shrine. Inscribed in the Shrine are the names of battles where Australians fought with such courage and dedication in the service of us all.

Over my seven years as Governor, I have increasingly recognised my Anzac Day Dawn Service speeches as just about the most important I deliver.

In 2015, the centenary year of the landing at Gallipoli, I had the extraordinary experience here at dawn of 30,000 Queenslanders – young and old – present in and around ANZAC Square… 30,000.  

But attendance every year – save for 2020 – has been a vibrant demonstration of the appreciation and gratitude of the Queensland people. (And in 2020, that appreciation and gratitude were expressed in other powerful ways).

Our ANZAC Day commemorations are unique to Australia and New Zealand. They are unique, because people want them, not because the government or the RSL ordains them. They are people led.

And so, it is in this place, ANZAC Square, that we honour, we conspicuously honour, those who have defended Australia in war time and in peace. We honour those who currently serve, and those involved in humanitarian and peacekeeping missions. The honour embraces service women, and our nurses. We also honour the sacrifices of those who remained behind, as much as we do those made on foreign soil.

Our ANZAC Square is a place where today, and on many days, we Queenslanders come to bow our heads and reaffirm the sacred promise, our promise, that those lives, and those sacrifices, will never be forgotten.

Lest We Forget.