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The Simpson Prize Presentation Ceremony [virtual ceremony]


I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land and pay my respects to their elders, past and present.

Thank you, Paul [Foley, Chair, Simpson Prize Advisory Committee], for that kind introduction and thank you to the students for sharing those excerpts from your essays. Well done.

Good morning, all – Linda and I extend a very warm ‘virtual’ welcome to this Simpson Prize Presentation Ceremony.

It’s a case of two ceremonies rolled into one this year. We would have preferred to hold separate ceremonies and for all of you to be physically here at Government House.
But the restrictions imposed on us by the pandemic have prevented us from doing so. I’m informed that your two-day Canberra program and overseas study tours have also had to be cancelled. Nonetheless, Linda and I are delighted to be with you online and to host this ceremony.

I want to speak directly to the students for a few minutes.

Congratulations to all of you – both winners and runners-up from the last two years. You should be very proud of what you’ve achieved.

I have a declaration to make! My eldest daughter, Caitlin, was the ACT winner of the Simpson Prize in 1999. Linda and I are very familiar with – and very supportive of – all that the Simpson Prize entails. As parents, that includes an appreciation of the time, thought and passion that goes into writing the essays. I’ll have more to say about that in a moment.

For mine, the Simpson Prize is one of the great educational initiatives. The essay topics encourage you to focus on the significance of Anzac Day and what it means to you and to Australia. In thinking about a topic, researching it and articulating a response, you are developing a skillset that will serve you well in life. Furthermore, your essays, will help increase Australians’ understanding of Anzac Day and World War 1. That is a great gift to give to our nation. It is through learning that we better understand.

This year, Linda and I spent Anzac Day in Darwin. At the Dawn Service I spoke about the Anzac legacy and the words we prescribe to that legacy: endurance, mateship, sacrifice and courage. I believe that those words and the Anzac legacy can be interpreted by three statements:

  • That if you give us a job to do, we’ll do our darndest to get it done.
  • We’ll do it in a way that makes you proud.
  • While we’re doing it – and afterwards – we will look after our mates.

Linda and I see that legacy writ large in the response of many Australian communities to recent natural disasters. It is manifested in what I like to call ‘a richness of spirit’ – a strength that exists in our communities and that helps sustain us in tough times.

That’s my interpretation of the Anzac legacy. You, now – based on your own research and careful consideration – have yours. Importantly, your interpretation of that legacy is an informed one. You’ve thought carefully about the topic, you’ve researched it, you’ve considered your findings and you’ve come to a conclusion based on evidence. 
That’s why I love the Simpson Prize. It helps develop both educational and life skills.

I thank all involved with the Simpson Prize – the Advisory Committee, the assessors, the various agencies and associations, and the families and friends who encouraged and supported the students – all share in today’s celebrations.

Thank you.