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Address on the occasion of the departure of the Melbourne 2006 Queen's Baton Relay from Government House.



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ADDRESS BY

HIS EXCELLENCY MAJOR GENERAL MICHAEL JEFFERY AC CVO MC

GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

ON THE OCCASION OF

THE DEPARTURE OF THE MELBOURNE 2006 QUEEN'S BATON RELAY FROM

GOVERNMENT HOUSE

GOVERNMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA

27 FEBRUARY 2006

Marlena and I are delighted that you could join us for what is certainly one of the earliest starts to the several hundred official functions we have had the pleasure of hosting here.   As you can hear, the cockatoos are in full cry which is quite appropriate when the official mascot for the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne is 'Karak', a south-eastern red-tailed black cockatoo. Part of the mascot's role is to promote the games in Australia and overseas.   The Queen's Baton Relay has also been an outstanding success in promoting the Games which are now just sixteen days away.   Her Majesty the Queen started the relay when she handed the baton to Australian super-model, Elle McPherson at Buckingham Palace on the 14th of March, last year.   A staggering number of around 50-thousand people will have carried the baton when it finally arrives in Melbourne after a truly epic journey through all 71 of the Commonwealth countries. And what a story it has to tell.   For all along the way the baton has generated immense goodwill, bonding people and nations. It has become a beacon, a shining symbol of unity, hope and shared aspirations in a world sorely in need of such healing and inspiration.   We applaud Her Majesty's foresight and wisdom in sending this remarkable baton on its wonderful journey throughout a Commonwealth of Nations she loves so much.   This is not my first encounter with it. In December I had the pleasure of farewelling the baton from Hobart on its way to the Antarctic.   In 1930 Sir Douglas Mawson led a British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic expedition. In that same year, in Hamilton, Canada, the first Commonwealth Games (then the British Empire Games) were staged.   What a long way we have come since then Next month in Melbourne will be the fourth time the Games have come to Australia. Brisbane played host in 1982, Perth 20 years earlier and Sydney in 1938.   When the arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge was joined in 1930, who could ever have imagined this high technology baton, complete with its own global tracking device and 'baton-cam', would be crossing the harbour beneath that mighty span on Australia Day, 2006.   Today the Queen's Baton continues its journey through the nation's capital, a modern city, proudly hosting the relay and several million visitors annually.   Dr Lancaster, when I hand you the baton I know you will appreciate its technical features, its beauty and

its feel. It was designed to inspire.

  As a world class concerto soloist and conductor, Dr Lancaster knows the meaning of inspiration.   And we can sense the huge anticipation that will reach its climax when the baton arrives at the MCG to the roar of a huge crowd in one of the world's great sporting arenas.   May the Melbourne 2006 Games inspire us all throughout the Commonwealth in a spirit of friendly competition.   But the baton's epic journey is not quite complete. Tomorrow it will cross the border into Victoria.   We wish it good luck and Godspeed.   Thank you.