United Service Club Patron Dinner
United Service Club President, Major Ian Harding; Vice President, Major Kathy Hirschfield AM; Past President, Lieutenant Colonel Tony Coyle and Committee Members; members and partners; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.
I begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the lands around Meeanjin, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and to any First Nations people here today.
I was delighted to accept the invitation from your President, Major Ian Harding, to join you this evening as both Governor and Patron.
Being welcomed here as your guest in this dual role is certainly a far cry from March 1928 when the celebrated woman pilot, Mrs Jessie Miller, visited the Club.
Mrs Miller had achieved fame the previous year when she co-piloted a flight from London to Australia, but the newspaper report of her visit to the Club focused on something far more significant – she was the first woman to be honoured by being entertained at the United Service Club!
Various speakers on the day praised Mrs Miller for her nerve and grit, and a career in aviation a century ago certainly did require courage, but of course that is no less the case today and, like all of you, Graeme and I were reminded of this when we heard the sobering news of last month’s helicopter training accident which took the lives of four Australian Army personnel.
The multinational search and recovery effort that followed the incident involved hundreds of personnel, and was a remarkable demonstration of the camaraderie, care and compassion that unite the defence community.
Our defence forces had also been very much in my thoughts just 24 hours beforehand, when I attended a moving commemoration at the Korean War Memorial at Broadbeach.
The ceremony marked the 70th anniversary of the armistice which ended combat on the Korean Peninsula, and was a fine tribute to the Australian soldiers, sailors and airmen who lost their lives in that war.
Whether it be attending commemorative services honouring the service and sacrifice of our defence force personnel and veterans, or welcoming international dignitaries, as I did recently, when Government House welcomed the US Secretary of State and the US Secretary of Defense for the 33rd Australian-United States Ministerial Consultations, our defence forces are often top of mind for me in my Vice-Regal role.
And so, it is my great honour to be Patron of a club which has made such a significant contribution to supporting our defence personnel through thick and thin for more than 130 years now.
The United Service Club is a great Queensland institution, and in closing, I am now proud to present this certificate of Vice-Regal Patronage to your President, Major Ian Harding.