Reception at Government House to Celebrate Christmas
Members of Executive Council; 22nd Governor of Queensland, the Honourable Leneen Forde AC; Judges of the Supreme Court of Queensland, Senior Australian Defence Force representatives; Members of the Consular Corps of Queensland; distinguished guests, welcome.
I begin by acknowledging the original custodians of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and extend respectful greetings to Elders, past, present and emerging.
It’s a great pleasure for Graeme and I to welcome you to Government House on this festive occasion.
Christmas is an opportunity to spend time with family and friends, and in a place like Queensland I know that definition stretches to colleagues, neighbours and other people who’ve shared our paths during the year.
This holds especially true when the thing we share in common is time spent in service to others.
You have all, to different degrees, shared my path in the past year.
November marked a year since I was sworn in as Governor, an occasion that allowed me to reflect on the role I was asked to fill, and why.
Above all else, I took an oath to serve the people of Queensland, and to act on their behalf.
When I think back to that day, I recall a sense of pride, optimism and hope, but also some trepidation as I pondered the weighty constitutional, ceremonial and community responsibilities of this position.
At my swearing-in, I also pledged true allegiance to Queen Elizabeth the Second, and it’s obvious her passing on the eighth of September this year had a profound impact here in Queensland and indeed the world over.
More than 5,000 people visited Government House to offer tributes, and many more sent touching messages of condolence.
And even as we continued to mourn the Queen, we adhered to the centuries old protocols of immediately welcoming in a new Monarch, in what I must say, was a seamless transition.
My proclamation of His Majesty King Charles the Third on the 11th of September underlined this legacy of constitutional and social stability in our country, which has stood us in good stead for generations.
From the outset, 2022 presented us with challenges, as well as opportunities.
Early in the year, parts of our state experienced the worst flooding in more than a century.
From Gympie to Gladstone, Kilkivan to Goomeri, the Burnett, the Western Downs, the Lockyer Valley and Brisbane, many communities were heavily impacted.
Graeme and I visited many of these areas, as I know many of you did also, where we were told stories of incredible heartbreak and heroism, met with our brave emergency services personnel, and saw close-knit communities help each other.
Since then, in keeping with a pledge I made to visit Queenslanders where they live, I’ve been fortunate to tour the state, visiting towns in and around Far North Queensland, central and western parts of the State, and right down to the southern border with New South Wales.
Guided by another of the key priorities I outlined at my swearing-in, I have also sought to promote Indigenous literacy, health and wellbeing, and foster reconciliation with First Nations people.
Further, in what is somewhat of a labour of love for me, I undertook to visit every Queensland public hospital over the course of my term. The dedication and sacrifices of health workers across the state continue to fill me with awe, and I’m sure you will agree, we owe them a debt of gratitude.
Graeme and I have accepted patronage of no less than 166 organisations dedicated to improving the lives of Queenslanders and I have also had the privilege of hosting several Investiture Ceremonies to confer Australian Honours and Awards to Queensland citizens who are making a difference in their communities.
While I have enjoyed almost every minute of my time at Government House, and am looking forward to the next four years, I am keen to embrace some down time and jocularity over the Christmas period.
I know you are, too.
With that in mind, we should mingle, congratulate each other on the successes of the year, commiserate on the unmet challenges, and do so in this beautiful place for all Queenslanders, Government House.
Merry Christmas all!