Government House Investiture Ceremony D - September 2023
Chair of The Order of Australia Queensland Branch, Ms Ronda Nix 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.
I am delighted to welcome you all to Government House and to today’s Investiture Ceremony.
For myself, and all the staff here at Government House, investitures are ‘red letter days’; the culmination of months of careful planning that begins as soon as the recipients of honours and awards are announced.
‘Red letter days’ may no longer be literally recorded in beautifully illuminated, red letters as they were in medieval calendars, but the phrase is a reminder that societies of honour, like The Order of Australia, have strong medieval roots.
In the 14th century, King Edward the Third was so inspired by tales of King Arthur’s chivalrous Knights that he set up his own group: the Order of the Garter. That connection to the Sovereign remains, not just for recipients of British honours, but for all of you, because today, King Charles III is the Sovereign Head of The Order of Australia, and as his representative in this State, presenting honours to Queenslanders on his behalf is among the most important official duties that I perform as Governor.
It's an important responsibility because honours and awards represent some of our highest ideals and values as a society – generosity, care for others, humility, honesty, and commitment to making a positive difference to the community, the nation or the world.
Through your commitment to those ideals and through your passion and dedication, each of you has made a significant contribution, and the range of fields through which you have done this is truly remarkable: the arts, the book industry, chemical engineering, community health, conservation, disaster relief, the environment, gliding, the Indigenous community, industrial relations, the Jewish community, local government, medicine, nursing, paramedicine, public administration, social research, speech pathology, the transport industry, veterinary science, and countless charitable initiatives and voluntary organisations.
As you can imagine, a careful and detailed process is involved in determining each award in the Order of Australia.
No honour is automatic; there is no political or personal pressure; referees are contacted; regulations and confidentiality are strictly observed; and an independent council of 19 members reviews each nomination before a recommendation goes to the Governor-General for a final decision.
That commitment to careful detail is carried through in the design of the Medals of the Order. It was created by Stuart Devlin, the artist and goldsmith who designed our decimal coins, and was inspired by Australia’s national flower, the golden wattle. Devlin translated a single ball of wattle, the emblem of the Order, into a golden disc of radiating lines on the medal and a pattern of gold starbursts on the Royal blue ribbon. Even the exact size of the ribbons is prescribed in the ordinance – exactly 38, 32 and 16 millimetres.
Here at Government House, we are equally committed to detail because we want to be confident that this final stage of the process, your investiture, is a truly memorable occasion for each of you and your guests.
Our horticulturalists have coaxed the beds of spring annuals to their peak; the House staff have ensured that everything is immaculate; the administration staff have checked and re-checked every aspect of the ceremony.
It remains for me to congratulate you once again, and to thank you for all you have done for your community, this State and our country through your dedication, leadership, commitment to excellence, and care for others. Australia as a nation is richer because of you.