Government House Investiture Ceremony B - September 2023
Representing the Commander of the First Division and Deployable Joint Force Headquarters of the Australian Army, Brigadier Gregory Novak AM; representing the Commander of the Combat Support Group, Royal Australian Air Force, Group Captain Dennis Tan; Commanding Officer of HMAS Moreton, Royal Australian Navy, Commander Fiona Southwood RAN; representing The Order of Australia Association, Mr Kelvin Brown OAM; award recipients, your family and friends, welcome.
I begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and to any First Nations people here today.
It is a privilege and pleasure for Graeme and me to welcome you all to this morning’s Investiture Ceremony.
Here at Government House, we take particular care to ensure that these ceremonies are both memorable and enjoyable – the staff here at the Office of the Governor ensure that every detail is checked and correct; our House staff and horticulturalists ensure that the rooms and grounds are immaculate; and our chefs are busy right now preparing refreshments from the best Queensland produce for the reception to follow this ceremony.
We take this care, because investing Queenslanders with awards under the Australian Honours system is among the most important responsibilities I have as Governor and as the representative of our King in our State.
An investiture is a public declaration. It is a declaration to the community at large that the awardees have made a significant contribution to building a strong, cohesive, tolerant society which respects the equal worth, dignity and freedoms of every individual.
As you have heard from the citations, each of the awardees here today have given back to Australia in myriad ways. Almost half of you have been honoured for your loyal and dedicated service in various roles with the Australian Defence Force or the Returned and Services League; others have contributed significantly to their community or profession in fields as varied as health and medicine, wildlife care, education, international relations, local government, youth, foster care, rowing, palaeontology, and food rescue and redistribution.
I doubt that there is anywhere other than in a ceremony such as this that you would hear such a diverse range of careers, professions and activities mentioned in the same sentence – and it is that very diversity that we celebrate as Australians when honours and awards are announced every January on Australia Day and on the King’s Birthday in June.
As Governor, I am very proud of Australia’s honours system. It was established to replace the British Imperial system almost 50 years ago and has developed an enviable reputation worldwide for its integrity.
In 1975, Queen Elizabeth the Second signed letters patent creating the Order of Australia to replace the Order of the British Empire, and for our own bravery decorations to replace the imperial decorations for gallantry. Since then, more than 50 additional honours have been developed and recommended to our Head of State for approval to enable us to create a system through which Australian citizens from any walk of life can be recognised for their contribution to building a better Australia.
Those additional awards include four I have presented today – the Conspicuous Service Cross and Medal, both added in 1989 to enable Australian military personnel to be recognised for their achievements and dedication in non-warlike situations; the Distinguished Service Medal, introduced two years later, in 1991, to acknowledge distinguished leadership in warlike operations; and the Defence Force Long Service Medal introduced in 1998.
As diverse as their fields may be, the recipients of all the honours presented today are united by the tangible awards they receive — the medals and certificates they have received.
Those are the symbols of your achievement, and, on behalf of all Queenslanders, I congratulate you on your awards and thank you for the service you have given and will no doubt continue to give to Australian society.
Finally, I would urge you not to hide your medals and certificates away in a drawer when you get home; these are honours to be worn with pride as a symbol of the nation’s gratitude to you and of your thanks to those who nominated you and supported your nomination.