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Speech on the occasion of after dinner address to the Royal Sydney Golf Club.



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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

AFTER DINNER ADDRESS TO THE ROYAL SYDNEY GOLF CLUB

SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES 31 MARCH 2005

Mr Richard Hattersley, President, Royal Sydney Golf Club, and Mrs Hattersley Mrs Claire Dixon, Vice-President, Royal Sydney Golf Club, and Dr Dixon Mr Denis Lenagan, Captain, and Mrs Lenagan Mrs Sheila Little, Lady Captain, and Mr Little Members of the Executive Ladies and gentlemen

Thank you for your warm welcome to Marlena and me this evening. What a magnificent day it has been here at Royal Sydney; enjoying good company and the course; and to be here tonight in this splendid facility to meet members and friends of the club.

I’m sure I’m not the first Governor-General to have played at Royal Sydney; and thank you, Richard for not alluding to my handicap or my standard of play in comparison with any of my more accomplished predecessors.

Ladies and gentlemen.

Continuity is one of the great strengths of Royal Sydney.

Indeed one hundred and twelve years is a superb measure of any organisation’s success. That your club has grown from strength to strength over such a period speaks highly of the commitment and dedication of people who care about Royal Sydney - generations of executive committees, members, administrators and staff.

The club’s history, and its approach to golf, might be described as a continuing quest for high standards of sportsmanship and excellence. It’s a history both woven together and built on by thousands of proud and contributing members - including names such as Tom Crow, Phil Billings, Tom McKay, Leonora Wray, Patricia Bridges, and Dame Joan Hammond (prominent also as an opera singer) - to name just a few.

Royal Sydney is also as much about enduring friendships formed from the earliest school years, through participation in school holiday clinics and coaching programs, cadetships, junior membership and ultimately, senior membership.

Golf has evolved dramatically from the rudimentary game that was first played in Europe more than five centuries ago. It provides a focus for developments that embrace more than just the game. Your clubhouse for example makes an unambiguous statement about the club - its economic progress, its sense of history, its entrepreneurial spirit, the close sporting and cultural associations, and importantly as a focal point for family enjoyment.

It is to the great credit of past and present members, that Royal Sydney has not only endured since the 19th century but has also prospered mightily, proving itself time and again in its capacity to meet the challenges of change.

Ladies and gentlemen.

This evening I thought it might be useful to give you some idea of the activities involved in my constitutional, community and ceremonial roles as Governor-General, including the challenge of getting around our vast nation - attempting to meet as many people as possible in their communities, where of course it all happens.

I’ve been reviewing our ‘statistics’ for the overall program and hope that a handful of these will illustrate my point.

Over the past twelve months the core of our program has included:

● 30 meetings of Federal Executive Council, and dealing with more than 700

agenda items;

● assenting to 185 pieces of legislation;

● delivering over 150 speeches;

● proroguing Parliament, swearing in the ministry, attending national Anzac

Day ceremonies, and reviewing the graduation parades at Duntroon and the ADFA;

● presenting hundreds of honours and awards at investiture ceremonies;

● receiving the credentials of 39 ambassadors and high commissioners

● hosting 140 official dinner and lunches at Government House, Canberra and

at Admiralty House, here in Sydney;

● receiving the Presidents of China and the United States of America, the

Crown Prince of Thailand, the Princess Royal, Prince Harry, the President of Israel, the Prince of Wales, the Crown Prince and the Crown Princess of

Denmark, the President of Singapore, the Crown Princess of Sweden, and on Sunday evening the President of Indonesia.

Marlena and I have visited every Australian State and Territory, in most cases on several occasions.

Our other duties have included:

● representing Australia on official and warmly received visits to the United

States, Denmark, Germany, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Timor Leste and Solomon Islands;

● attending 300 official events Australia wide;

● hosting up to 180 school children per day on visits to Government House,

Canberra; and

● hosting 270 reception type functions in support of patronage and other

organisations, and for individuals and groups that underpin the national voluntary/charitable life of Australia.

Our approach is very much a team effort, of husband and wife, doing our best to meet community expectations of the office of Governor-General. I consciously choose:

● to strongly support our democratic institutions and processes, knowledge of

which is sadly lacking in many of our younger people; do not involve myself in republic debate, but I do suggest that it will be hard to get the right answer for change if we don’t understand how our present system works and how it has been so stable;

● to do what I can to support the Australian community in all its forms,

especially through the 180 not-for-profit and philanthropic organisations of which Marlena and I are patron;

● to publicise widely the skills, innovation and technological achievements of

our citizens in agriculture, mining, education, medicine, the arts and in military operations; and

● to advance the cause of young Australians, particularly in relation to

education, youth group participation and family cohesion.

I would be surprised if too many other nations can match the voluntary community participation levels we achieve in Australia; some 4.3 million citizens giving around 3½ hours service a week to a wide range of worthy causes, including support for the disadvantaged overseas. I speak frequently of Australia as a nation of excellence - the global example, and of the intellect and output of Australian artisans and artists, scientists, inventors and sportsmen who prove our nation’s capacity for superior performance.

Whilst I know that comparisons can be odious, I would doubt that few nations can claim to have produced so much, in a country which began its modern history, a mere two hundred years ago, as a humble convict settlement, in a harsh land inhabited by an extraordinary 40,000 year old nomadic civilisation, very much in tune with the environment of the time but not with the ways of the developed world.

Ladies and gentlemen. My intention as Governor-General is to continue doing what I can to canvass issues that I hope will ignite ideas to enrich our nation - including telling Australians what their fellow Australians are achieving.

Just some examples include:

● In Western Australia - opening new facilities for Edith Cowan University; a

university that works closely with the community, for example bringing children with learning difficulties, from neighbouring schools, to receive intensive tuition from final-year education students;

● In New South Wales - hosting functions each January in support of students

attending the Indigenous Australian Engineering Summer School - a program that encourages engineering as a career option for indigenous Australians - there are only five indigenous engineering graduates to date; the number on a per capita basis should be around 3,500;

● In Tasmania - opening the redeveloped Australian Antarctic Division

Headquarters and supporting our scientists’ work which is revealing the history of global climate and trends that will affect the planet’s natural resources and environment;

● In Victoria - opening the Sheepvention at Hamilton, with its focus on

creative, innovative problem solving in the sheep and wool industries;

● In South Australia - opening new family oriented premises for Novita

Children’s Services which has been caring for children with cerebral palsy for sixty-five years;

● In Queensland - visiting the superb Queensland Institute for Medical

Research. Amongst its brilliant scientists, researchers using tiny micro-

crustaceans have, in a world-first, successfully eliminated the breeding of dengue fever-carrying mosquitos in 42 Vietnamese communities;

● In the Northern Territory - farewelling troops from Darwin on board

Australian Navy Supply Ship, HMAS Kanimbla bound for humanitarian aid work in Sumatra following the Boxing Day tsumani; and in Uluru celebrating Australia Day in the indigenous spiritual centre of the continent; and

● In Canberra - launching the inaugural Constitutional Education Fund

Australia Awards to educate young Australians about the Australian Constitution and our system of government.

Ladies and gentlemen. As Marlena and I move around Australia I also want to talk more about other issues I see as crucial to Australia’s future, including:

• elevating teaching in the public eye to the status of a noble profession;

• improving literacy and numeracy for disadvantaged young Australians particularly through national mentoring programs;

• promoting the family as the basic building block of a cohesive society;

• supporting innovative indigenous projects especially in cultural, health and educational activities;

• encouraging efforts to promote water conservation and the reduction of salinity;

• re-invigorating interest in, and development of, rural and regional Australia; and

• /promoting closer regional dialogue between Australia and the India-China arc.

To fulfil our constitutional, community and ceremonial functions, and to participate in service with literally millions of Australians from all walks of life is the most humbling but uplifting of human experiences - which is one reason why being Governor-General of this magnificent country of ours is such a privilege.

Marlena and I have the advantage of seeing so much that is great and inspiring across Australia, but admit to feeling a little disappointed that so little of what Australians are achieving in the fields of medicine, mining, agriculture, environment, the arts and security is reported on a sustained basis to the wider community - and that’s unfortunate.

In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen. Marlena and I are delighted to be with you this evening, to relax and enjoy this wonderful setting, and to accept the gracious hospitality of Royal Sydney Golf Club. Clubs such as yours which hold to high standards of courtesy, comfort, character, service and sportsmanship, whilst implementing sound decision-making processes will always be happily successful. Marlena and I wish you well for the future, and look forward to more frequent participation on your lovely course.

Thank you.