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Launch of 'Lady of Australia Rose', Government House [Her Excellency, Mrs Linda Hurley]

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Ngunnawal People, and pay my respects to their elders, past and present, and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders gathered here today.

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to Government House. David and I are delighted that you could join us for the launch of the Lady of Australia Rose.

I want to thank Colin Hollis, the immediate past President of the National Rose Society of Australia, for liaising with me over the past two years to find this special rose.

Colin, in collaboration with Wagner’s Rose Nursery in South Australia, planted some of the bushes in the garden at Yarralumla back in June to ensure that all was ready for today’s special event.

I also want to thank Bruce Brundrett who bred the rose. Bruce has bred many award-winning roses over the years, so I know that the ‘Lady of Australia’ has been in safe hands.

I would like to tell you a little of how the Lady of Australia Rose came into being. When David was Governor of New South Wales and we were living at Government House Sydney, it dawned on me that there was nothing in the House or on the grounds that indicated that Governors’ wives had ever lived there. No evidence whatsoever!

I felt that there needed to be some recognition of the important role played by the wives. A rose seemed the perfect thing as it symbolises love, devotion and peace. The National Rose Society of Australia and Colin Hollis helped make this happen. Governors’ wives Lady Martin, Lady Cutler, Mrs Shirley Sinclair and myself planted the ‘Governor’s Wife Rose’ in the garden at Government House Sydney in honour of all Governors’ wives.

It is still there to this day.

The rose we are celebrating today – the Lady of Australia Rose – is in honour of the wives of Australia’s Governors’-General. It was named by Brian Wagner and his partner, Benedetta, who sadly couldn’t be with us today. They will be releasing the rose for sale from their nursery next year.

The idea for a yellow rose was mine! I wanted the colour to be representative of Australia. ‘Gold’ immediately came to mind, and the ‘yellow’ came from that. The rose represents the joy and support that the wives of Governors’-General bring to the vice-regal role.

As you know, today is Remembrance Day – a day when we remember, reflect and honour those who have served and also their families. It is fitting that the Lady of Australia Rose be launched today because The Australian War Widows – an organisation that supports and honours women who stood alongside men who made the ultimate sacrifice – will be selling roses to raise much needed funds.

I want to thank all at the National Rose Society of Australia for organising today’s event and for encouraging the cultivation of the rose in Australia. Your work brings joy to many Australians and helps spread kindness in our community – a wonderful gift to give.

I am proud to be Patron of the National Rose Society of Australia and look forward to launching the Lady of Australia Rose shortly. 

Thank you. It is wonderful to have you all here!