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Government House Platinum Jubilee Ball


Dhawura nguna Dhawaru Ngunnawal

Yanggu ngalawiri dhunimanyin Ngunnawalwari dhawurawari.

Nginggada Dindi wanggiralidjinyin.

This is Ngunnawal Country.

Today we are all meeting together on this Ngunnawal Country.

We acknowledge and pay our respects to the Elders. 

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Government House for a celebration of Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Tonight is, in every sense of the word, a historic occasion.

Historic, because of Her Majesty and her remarkable reign.

Historic, because there have been but four occasions in the last 2000 years to celebrate a 70-year reign. I wasn’t able to verify this with Her Majesty in London last week, but I hope that Her Majesty has King Louis the fourteenth’s record of 72 years and 110 days in her sights.

Linda and I will be retired by then, so perhaps we can look forward to attending this Ball’s sequel as guests.

Historic, though, on a more serious note, because of what the Platinum Jubilee and Her Majesty’s lifetime of service mean to Australia’s past, our present and our future. 

An obvious start point is to consider the historic sweep of Her Majesty’s reign. The scale of change and transformation has been remarkable.

It can be expressed in facts and figures: 27 Governors-General, 16 Prime Ministers, 16 visits to Australia.

Or through the lens of technological change: just days after the Coronation of Her Majesty, an early computer called the IAS machine became operational. It weighed around 450 kilograms and had a memory of 5.1 kilobytes. Most of you have a phone in your pocket that weighs less than 200 grams and has a memory in excess of 250 million times that.

It can be viewed through historical events here and globally: the 1967 Referendum and the Cold War, to our ongoing Reconciliation journey, waves of immigration and 9/11 and the War on Terror.

It can be viewed through a culture: Vivien Leigh in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ to Tom Cruise in ‘Top Gun: Maverick.’

However, I have come to realise that to appreciate Her Majesty’s reign it is best to observe what has not changed rather than what has. 

The values and characteristics that Her Majesty has lived by have not changed.

They remain values to which we ascribe and aspire to.

The calm, steady leadership she provides has not changed.

Her Majesty remains an example for us all.

That is worth celebrating.

Following her Coronation on 2 June 1953, The Queen delivered a speech, including in part the words:

'I have in sincerity pledged myself to your service, as so many of you are pledged to mine. Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust.'

I struggle to think of someone who has so evidently lived up to what could have been taken as an aspirational statement.

Throughout all the change that has occurred in the last 70 years, Her Majesty has consistently demonstrated devotion to duty, tireless and selfless service, and compassion for others.

As values they are timeless.

They’re as relevant today as they were 70 years ago.

They will be as relevant in 70 years’ time as they are today.

Like King Canute, Her Majesty hasn’t sought to hold back the tide of change.

No-one could have or should have.

Rather, she has held true to herself, her values and convictions.

In doing so, she has provided leadership and been a reassuring presence of stability. She has embraced change and set the foundation upon which so much has been built.

Never, perhaps, than in this age of increasing instant gratification and celebrity has her example being more pertinent.

Australia has changed a great deal in Her Majesty’s reign.

I touched on First Nations Australians and our ongoing Reconciliation journey earlier.

Similarly, in 1952 migration to Australia was a relative ripple rather than the wave that would transform and strengthen our nation.

Today, we are the most successful multicultural country on Earth. 

Our change has been profound. More will come.

In embracing it, in being excited and motivated by it, we should follow the example of Her Majesty and aspire to the values she has lived by.

She has been a constant in our lives; an inspiration.

We give thanks.

God Save The Queen.