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Investiture of Dr Gareth Andrews, Dr Richard Stephenson and Mr Mark Richardson, Government House


This is Ngunnawal Country. Tonight we are all meeting together on this Ngunnawal Country. We acknowledge and pay our respects to the Elders.

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, Scouts – welcome to Government House. 

Today is a very special day and a celebration.

I’m not seeking to celebrate prematurely. I know Gareth [Dr Andrews] and Richard [Dr Stephenson] still have their remarkable journey to come, and all thanks to Mark [Mr Richardson, Executive Chairman of 'The Last Great First') who has been supporting them for 10 years.

But today is still a celebration: of the three men that will be invested as Members of Scouts and National Ambassadors and of the values that they embody and that are writ large throughout the Scouting movement.

Those values are codified in The Australian Scout Law: Be respectful, Do what is right, and Believe in myself.

They’re values that transcend Scouting and reflect our community at its very best.

If I ever needed a reminder of why Scouts is important – and I don’t – I need only to reflect on the characteristics that Linda and I observe in the Australian community.

For much of our term we’ve spent most of our time in communities dealing with one disaster or another – drought, fire, floods, cyclones … the list goes on.

I could focus on the challenges and the hardships. They’re certainly plentiful.

I choose, though, to highlight the underlying characteristics and values on display:

Respect – the dignity with which neighbours and strangers alike treat each other.

A commitment to doing what is right – people who time and time again are selfless and compassionate.

A belief in themselves – a gritty determination to get through and a knowledge that while they may have been knocked to a knee, they’re not down and out and that they will prevail.

It is inspiring.

The prevalence of those characteristics in our community tells me that the path you are on is an important one. One that will hold you, and our nation, in good stead into the future.

To turn to the ‘The Last Great First’.

Antarctica is a place that inspires wonder and sparks the imagination. 

The history of its exploration is replete with tales of adventure, heroism and tragedy. 

The scale and audacity of this Antarctic expedition astonished me when I discussed it with Gareth in May last year.

Two thousand, six hundred kilometres.

One hundred and ten days.

Two men on the world’s highest, driest, windiest, coldest, iciest continent.

You could focus on each of those challenges; certainly, they’re daunting. 

Instead let’s focus on the how and why.

The how: supported by a team. Gareth and Richard might be isolated, but they won’t be alone. They are also prepared. Made possible because of years of commitment, training and dedication.

And the why: to inspire. To remind all of us of the importance, majesty and fragility of Antarctica and its pivotal role in the survival of the planet.

It is a journey for the ages. 

It will have both tangible, immediate impacts and create benefits that will ripple through our community for generations to come.

Thank you for all you’re doing to promote Scouting in Australia and to engender those values in the young generation.

It is a great thing for them and a great thing for our country.