Dinner in honour of the Honourable Catherine Holmes AC
Graeme and I are delighted to host this dinner tonight to recognise the exceptional service of our guest of honour, The Honourable Catherine Holmes AC.
This wonderful heritage building is very familiar to Cate. As Queensland’s 19th Chief Justice for six and a half years, she served on many occasions as Acting Governor during Paul de Jersey’s absence, and over her long and distinguished career in the law, she has been a welcome guest at many receptions here. So ‘welcome home’, Cate.
At the time of Cate’s appointment as Chief Justice in September 2015, much was made of the fact that she would be the first woman to serve in the role in its 152 years.
While it is to be hoped that, one day, an appointee’s gender will go unremarked, Cate’s appointment after 18 men had served in the role nevertheless represented a significant change from tradition.
Her appointment followed a difficult time for the role of Chief Justice and her ability to settle the tumult surrounding that office is testament to her steadfast leadership.
I am reminded of the impact made by another woman lawyer, Leneen Forde, when she became Queensland’s first woman Governor, 30 years ago.
Leneen made the governorship her own. She reshaped public perceptions and expectations of the role of the Queen’s representative, and eased the way for Quentin Bryce, Penelope Wensley and me to follow in her footsteps.
In the same way, Cate has created a pathway which will make it far easier for girls and young women to see the role of Chief Justice as possible and attainable. Indeed, we already have our second female Chief Justice in Cate’s successor, The Honourable Helen Bowskill.
For me personally, an enduring memory will be being sworn in as the 27th Governor of Queensland by Cate as the Chief Justice of Queensland.
Cate’s career has included many other highlights and exceptional achievements, but it is her steadfast leadership of the court, particularly during the two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, that was truly exemplary. She has made an outstanding contribution to the State and people of Queensland and, on their behalf, as Governor, I thank her.