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Commonwealth Day - Platinum Jubilee Year

It is a delight to welcome you all to Government House to celebrate Commonwealth Day.

Commonwealth Day is a special day in the calendar every year. A day when we celebrate … the diversity and strength of the Commonwealth …

Our shared history …

Our modern connection …

And our future.

Our past, the present and our future. The Commonwealth is relevant to each. 

This, Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, makes it an especially special celebration.

Across her remarkable reign Her Majesty has led and shaped the Commonwealth. She has kept alive its history while very much moving with the times. She has been a symbol of stability and a driving force of change.

The Platinum Jubilee gives us cause to reflect on Her Majesty’s reign and her influence on who we are and who we aspire to be.

She would not want us to. She does not seek the spotlight or attention. She never has.

I’ve told this story before. When Linda and I spoke to Her Majesty in the days following the passing of His Royal Highness The Duke, she immediately steered the conversation to how the people of Western Australia impacted by Cyclone Seroja were faring. 

In a moment of personal grief, her thoughts were with her Australian subjects.

It was a single moment – imagine how many there have been over the last 70 years – and it was inspiring. 

But I should not have been surprised. 

Her Majesty’s life has been devoted to others. 

To her subjects. 

To the many causes she has passionately championed.

To the Commonwealth. 

When I reflect on Her Majesty, I am struck most of all by her selflessness, her unwavering commitment to service and her infinite compassion for others.

These are characteristics to which we all aspire.

They’re characteristics that bind the diverse nations of the Commonwealth. They are as relevant today and to our future as they have been to our past.

Her Majesty remains an inspiring leader and I am sure that you will join me in celebrating her Platinum Jubilee.

Shortly we will launch what will be a permanent tribute and celebration to Her Majesty - the Queen Elizabeth The Second garden here at Government House. 

Linda and I are passionate about the role Government House plays in contemporary Australia.

It is our home for now but it is very much the people of Australia’s house.

Day after day, my predecessors and now Linda and I welcome the very best of our community here. 

People that are selfless. That contribute their time and passion to help others. 

That make an impact and change lives.

Most aren’t in positions of power.  They don’t do what they do for attention. 

Rather, they see something that needs to be done. And they step up. 

They embody the same characteristics and subconsciously follow the example that Her Majesty sets.

They too are selfless, committed to service and compassionate.

The Queen Elizabeth The Second garden will be a lasting symbol of those qualities and the values to which we all aspire.

I want to make special mention of Backtrack. 

The BackTrack team also embody the values of selflessness, service and compassion. They change lives, change our communities and help shape our future.

I am thrilled that Bernie and the team are here today and delighted that BackTrack - an organisation that Linda and I have had the privilege of being involved with for almost a decade - will be permanently represented in the grounds of Government House through the sculpture 'Coming Together, Moving Forward, Standing Tall.

I’m calling them Roo and Moo.

They’re a symbol of our nation and, in this garden, will represent Her Majesty’s deep affection for and connection to Australia.

I would also like to thank the Australians Fund for their generous support. Not just of the sculpture - for Government House and Admiralty House and making sure that our unique and special history is reflected in the properties. 

I’ll have more to say shortly about the garden, sculptures and all who made it possible. For now, from Linda and I, and really from all Australians, thank you.

Friends, thank you for joining us. 

Commonwealth Day is a special day of the year - this year even more so.

Even amidst the challenges, the trials and the tests, there is much to celebrate and much to be optimistic about.

If you doubt that I encourage you to consider Her Majesty and her Reign. 

The characteristics that she embodies - selflessness, service and compassion - have seen her prevail through decades of turmoil and change. 

Those same characteristics, writ large in our communities, should give us enormous faith in our ability to prevail, to succeed and to be strong.

Happy Commonwealth Day.