Thursday, 16 March 2023
Reception for Royal Commonwealth Society
I am delighted, as patron, to welcome you to Government House in honour of your Centenary. It is timely to do so in the same week as Commonwealth Day.
It is important to mark such a significant milestone for the Royal Commonwealth Society in South Australia, both as a celebration and as an opportunity to chart the future.
Since 1922-23 when the Society in SA was formed, there has been great global societal and technological change; economic booms and busts, scientific breakthroughs, devastating wars, the greater emancipation of women, a focus on lifting people up in the quest for equality, an urgency in tackling environmental issues and the desire to forge reconciliation with indigenous populations.
Throughout that time, the Commonwealth has been a symbol of stability and connection between nations in tackling such global and fundamental issues.
Her late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was a guiding light in her desire for the Commonwealth to – and I quote - build on the highest qualities of the Spirit of Man: friendship, loyalty and the desire for freedom and peace.
I thank the Society for always having at your heart a commitment to upholding these ideals at a local level.
I have every confidence that His Majesty King Charles III, as the new head of the Commonwealth, will himself be a beacon for people to realise these goals through concerted action.
As Prince of Wales, His Majesty was widely respected for his long-time championing of environmental issues and his encouragement of diversity and opportunity. In some instances, he was before his time, as we say, particularly on environmental issues.
In his Commonwealth Day message, released on Monday, His Majesty spoke of the great potential of the Commonwealth:
“The Commonwealth has been a constant in my own life, and yet its diversity continues to amaze and inspire me,” he said.
“Its near-boundless potential as a force for good in the world demands our highest ambition; its sheer scale challenges us to unite and be bold.”
I was honoured to have an audience with his Majesty at Buckingham Palace in November.
From our conversation – which I’m sorry protocol dictates will remain confidential – it was clear that His Majesty has great affection for South Australia, shaped by his six visits here.
I am able to say that he expressed concern for the recent flooding of the River Murray and its impact on communities. He knows us well, as did Her Late Majesty.
While many of the global imperatives before us could seem insurmountable - climate change, geopolitical tensions, poverty and inequality – it is clear that alongside government and corporate action, people have the opportunity to effect change.
It is within the humanity of people to do so. Because our associations are our strength. Because people are our strength.
I thank the Royal Commonwealth Society in South Australia for not only building connections with like-minded people, but also harnessing that connection to promote the arts and tackle challenges to boost literacy, equality and care for the environment.
Let us not forget that the Commonwealth represents 2.4 billion people across a third of the world, and of these 94% live in Asia or Africa.
Here in Australia we historically have had an important role as a development partner for the Pacific Island Countries and developing countries beyond our immediate region.
I congratulate you on your desire to strengthen your ties with interstate and overseas branches, and the Pacific Islands, in particular tackling the disposal and recycling of plastics.
I am also delighted that Cleland National Park is to be part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy.
This is important work and contributes to the Commonwealth movement to improve the lives of its citizens.
Again, congratulations on reaching your Centenary and on all that you have achieved. I look forward to the future publication of your Centenary Book and I wish you all well for the future.