Government House Investiture Ceremony E- September 2023
Representing the Leader of the Opposition, Mrs Deb Frecklington MP; Queensland Corrective Services Commissioner Paul Stewart APM; Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Gregory Leach AFSM; Queensland Ambulance Services Commissioner Craig Emery ASM; representing The Order of Australian Association, Ms Kathy Woodbridge 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’s my great pleasure to welcome you to Government House for this afternoon’s investitures.
The 24 recipients at today’s ceremony have received six different honours under our honours and awards system, but, you might be surprised to know that not one of those awards existed when the system was first created by Queen Elizabeth II in 1975.
Our then Prime Minister, the Honourable Gough Whitlam, had instigated a move for Australia to have its own, unique system of honours to replace the British Imperial system. Fortunately, Her Majesty the Queen signed the Letters Patent to establish the system in February 1975 and the system was in place before Whitlam’s three years in office ended abruptly with his dismissal just nine months later.
The only original honours were the three highest levels of the Order of Australia, the Australian Bravery Decorations and the National Medal; however, today, are 60 such awards and honours, thanks to additions and amendments over the last 50 years.
The Medal of the Order of Australia, for instance, was created the year after the launch of the Order when it was felt that another level of the Order was needed to acknowledge citizens who give service that is worthy of particular recognition.
Our Fire Service Medal was created in 1988 to replace the Queen’s Fire Service Medal; Australia’s own Public Service Medal was created in 1989 to replace the equivalent British award; the Ambulance Service Medal and Emergency Service Medals were both introduced into the system in 1999; and the Australian Corrections Medal was one of the most recent honours to be created in 2017.
These additions are a great demonstration of the strength of our honours system and of the commitment by successive governments to ensuring that it remains relevant and can appropriately acknowledge citizens for the contribution they make to their profession, their communities, the State and our nation.
Honours are important because they help define, encourage and reinforce national aspirations, ideals and standards by identifying role models. We give honours to recognise, celebrate and say thank you to those who make a difference, those who achieve their best, and those who serve others.
Here today, we have six women and men who have received their Public Service Medal, acknowledging their contribution to fields as varied as youth justice, geodesy and spatial sciences, health care, biosecurity, youth, community and family, and protecting Australian agribusiness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have six other men and women who have served us through leadership and service with the Fire and Emergency Services Queensland, the Queensland Ambulance Service, Queensland Corrective Services, and the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard.
And, a further 12 who have been awarded Medals of the Order of Australia for their service to their communities in fields as widely varied as ice-skating, social welfare, music, local government, protocol, youth, veterans, the road transport industry, education, people with disability, and countless voluntary organisations.
Collectively, you have made an enormous contribution to our State, and, on behalf of all Queenslanders, I congratulate you on your honours and awards, and thank you for all that you have done and, I know, will continue to do to help build and maintain stronger, more resilient and cohesive communities.
On behalf of a grateful State, thank you.