Wednesday, 24 January 2024

Pathways to Politics Graduation

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the grounds of Government House this evening to celebrate your completion of Pathways to Politics.

Congratulations on being part of the first South Australian cohort to undertake this program.

I thank the University of Adelaide for stepping forward to offer this opportunity to emerging women leaders in our community.

In the early months of my term as Governor, I invited South Australian parliamentarians to meet with me one on one at Government House.

I wanted to build a strong working relationship with Parliament House and, as we know, it’s always good to get to know the neighbours!

I also was also interested to know why the elected members had chosen to pursue a political career.

Their motivations were diverse, but all talked about service to the community; about wanting to address a specific problem in society, or give people a voice.

It’s a sentiment I know well, growing up with a mother in politics, the Hon Jennifer Cashmore AM, who served as a member of the House of Assembly from 1977 to 1993 and as Minister for Health and Minister for Tourism from 1979-1982.

Perhaps more pertinently in this gathering my mother was only the third woman to be elected to Parliament in South Australia and the second to Cabinet rank.

Reading your personal profiles, I see the same theme emerging – a commitment to serving others in the work you have done, either professionally or in a volunteer capacity.

I thank you all for undertaking this program, with a view to pursuing a political career so you can make a difference in our community, however you see fit.

I am heartened by the diversity of your cohort, representing a range of ages, cultural and professional backgrounds.

As I have learned first hand, a diverse workplace is a stronger workplace, and one in which better decisions are made.

This also applies to our elected bodies.

This program has required a significant commitment of time and energy, and I thank you for your dedication to making the most of its learning opportunities.

From campaigning, media training, leadership, speechwriting and more, you are now well equipped to take the next step on your journey and run for office, whenever the time is right.

Once again I thank the university for running this program, with support from the Trawalla Foundation, and the leadership of the program’s Steering Committee for South Australia.

I end with a quote from my mother, the final lines of her book, ‘A Chance in Life’.

When I came upon these as an adult, I realised we had arrived at the same conclusion, albeit separately:

“I conclude not with a family rule, but a personal credo. As a Member of Parliament, I believe it is my responsibility to try, as often as possible, to say what other people are thinking but perhaps not expressing, so that those I represent feel they have a voice.

Another obligation – more difficult by far to fulfil – is actually to make people think. We need to see ourselves not only as individuals but as a very important part of society.

When we do that, we are forced to think about the relationship between thought and action, action and reaction. We are forced to think not just about our own lives but about the lives of others we depend on and who depend on us – our families, our employers, our colleagues, our country.

In other words, we are forced to think politically. The more people can think politically, the more power they have to influence their future in ways of their own choosing.”

I wish you all the very best with your political careers as you translate your beliefs into action and improve our communities, and our country, for the good of all.

Coming events