Saturday, 03 June 2023

Order of Australia King’s Birthday Luncheon

Rod and I, as your patron, are delighted to join you at this luncheon to celebrate the official King’s Birthday and the recent Coronation of His Majesty and Queen Camilla.

As you know, I was privileged to be present for the ceremony in Westminster Abbey, along with the Governor General, Prime Minister, and my fellow State Governors.

It was a magnificent occasion steeped in tradition, but not limited by it, which brought together those who served nations and communities.

All felt included, whatever their nationality or faith.

It was clear that our new King intends to honour the legacy of his mother and to continue his long commitment to service, something of which the Prince of Wales also spoke at the Coronation Concert at Windsor the following evening.

When Prince of Wales himself, His Majesty was widely respected for his long-time championing of environmental issues and his encouragement of diversity and opportunity.

His Majesty has often spoken of the importance of issues such as climate change and biodiversity loss, youth opportunity and education, global health, and economic co-operation.

He was well ahead of this time in championing the need to nurture and protect the environment.

On the eve of the coronation, I was able to speak to His Majesty at a Buckingham Palace reception, where I conveyed the congratulations of all South Australians.

He expressed warm fondness for South Australia, gained through his six visits to our State as Prince of Wales.

His Majesty was delighted – indeed enthusiastic - to learn of our then intention to plant a stand of Golden Wattles in the grounds of Government House, in celebration of the Coronation of the King and Queen.

This planting was carried out by members of the public at our recent Government House Open Day, during which more than 2000 visitors came into our house and grounds.

The wattles, now in the south-eastern corner of the gardens, are a symbol of the resilience of the Australian spirit.

They are also of special significance to the Kaurna people, whose traditional name for them is ‘mirnu’.

Gum secreted from the mirnu was once a staple food source for the Kaurna people, as trees were widespread throughout the Adelaide Plains before settlement.

Knowing of the interest in the Coronation at home, I brought back the hand-written invitation, place cards, Order of Service, commemorative book and table flags to display at our Open Day. They will remain in Government House’s collection.

I also wanted as many people as possible to see the outfits I wore, each of them designed and made in South Australia - for the Coronation itself a deep blue gown created for me by Adelaide designer Cristina Tridente and Aboriginal artist Gabi Stengle.

At Open Day and on other occasions in May, more than 1,000 people wrote messages of congratulations to their Majesties in special books made available at Government House.

The messages offered congratulations to our new King and remarked on his commitment to service and his championing of the environment.

To share a few:

Your Mother would be proud. God Save the King.

Good things come to those who wait. You had a good teacher and mentor. Long life and happiness.

Good health and best wishes. Thank you for your commitment to the environment and the future of our planet.

And one displaying the friendly hospitality of South Australians:

Congratulations King Charles. Wishing you all the best. Love your interest in environmental work. Next time you come to SA, do drop into Wudinna for a cuppa.

In just over a week, the first King’s Birthday Honours of the new Carolean era will be announced.

And, as when you yourselves were honoured, this will be an occasion will to recognise Australians who have dedicated themselves to serving our community.

I eagerly anticipate the investiture ceremonies which follow the honours lists because, as Governor, I have an opportunity to thank and congratulate South Australians who have given outstanding service or are responsible for exceptional achievements.

Our national Honours system is a celebration of our nation’s values and those who contribute to make our country what it is today.

As recipients yourselves I urge you to encourage members of our community to nominate people who are deserving of recognition across the full diversity of our population; women as well as men, Aboriginal Australians, those from all cultural backgrounds, people with disability and young people.

The Governor General is undertaking some excellent work to attract a wide range of nominations reflecting Australians of many ages and walks of life.

An extensive digital campaign has highlighted the many faces and stories behind the honour, helped to demystify the nomination process and has encouraged Australians to think broadly about who they might nominate.

I too have promoted the awards via my social media channels, showcasing local winners and encouraging nominations.

Sometimes, I think we are inclined to wait too long before acknowledging service and achievement.

It’s easily in our hands to ensure change.


Thank you for the work you do creating a community for Order of Australia award winners.

I thank you also for your work with the Student Citizenship awards, encouraging active citizenship in our young people.

It is my pleasure to present these awards each year to students who are no doubt future leaders of our community.

In closing, on the topic of active citizenship, Government House is hosting a new initiative during the colder months, called the ‘Winter Conversation Series’.

On the fourth Friday of each winter month, I will be joined in conversation with prominent South Australians on topics pertinent to the success of our State and wellbeing of our people.

You will be pleased to know the first conversation on 23 June focuses on the Order of Australia.

Our guest speakers for this session will be recipients academic Marnie Hughes-Warrington AO and Tokyo Olympic gold medallist Darren Hicks OAM.

Professor Hughes-Warrington is globally recognised as a philosopher and historian, who was honoured with an AO for distinguished service to tertiary education and governance as an administrator, leader and mentor. Her work seeks to explain why histories and historical thinking play an important role in making a good, fair and just world.

Paralympic cyclist Darren Hicks won gold and silver medals in Tokyo. He grew up as a devoted BMX rider and after losing his leg in a road accident in 2014, and after undertaking a lengthy recovery, he decided to try track cycling, becoming a two-time World Champion.

Information on these awards has been forwarded to the Association, and you can also learn more on the Government House website, as well as make your booking.

Please come along and tell your friends about it.

Let’s encourage everyone to speak up about their fellow great Australians and ensure our national honours system is the best it can be.

Coming events