Thursday, 07 October 2021
Swearing-In Ceremony as 36th Governor of South Australia
Yaitya Miyurna-alya Kumartarna yartanangku
Ngathu naa tampinthi
Pukinanangku, yalaka, tarrkarritya
When my flight took off from Adelaide airport on a Summer’s morning in 1985 and banked over the sparkling blue Gulf to turn towards Canberra, I felt, as a 23-year-old, that I was leaving one of the best places on earth.
Like many young people then and since, I was lured away by a job and the prospect of a career in diplomacy. I promised myself right then and there that I would return – to bring up my children and, if I were fortunate enough, to head the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Adelaide office.
Not all promises, even to oneself, can necessarily be kept in quite the way one intends and so I am deeply grateful to the Premier for advising Her Majesty The Queen to appoint me as South Australia’s 36th Governor and for hosting today’s ceremony.
And I am delighted to be joined by my husband Rod and our children Katherine and Sophie, with Claire and Matthew watching the live stream from the United Kingdom.
We have been frequent visitors over the years and two of the girls completed their schooling in Adelaide. If I were asked to nominate my favourite landscape in the whole world, it would be the sight of the Willunga Hills with the McLaren Vale vines in the foreground.
So, I am very happy again to be calling South Australia home. And who knows, maybe one day Rod and I will be able to bring up our grandchildren here!
I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his support for my appointment.
I look forward to working with the Government and Opposition in the interests of all South Australians, whom I am honoured to have this opportunity to serve.
As Governor, I pledge to uphold South Australia’s Constitution and safeguard the institutions which are vital to its sovereignty, democracy and prosperity and which give expression to our values.
At all levels, from the international to the local, institutions, including democratic institutions, are coming under pressure. Investing in them must surely be our objective.
I thank Professor Brenda Wilson who has capably filled the role of Administrator since the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC, whose exceptional and inspirational service I also recognise, completed his term.
I acknowledge the Lord Mayor of Adelaide. I have learned so much in this City – in the University of Adelaide and its environs, including across Karrawirra Parri, the River Torrens, at the Adelaide University Boat Club – and I am sure I will learn and be inspired here again.
All my life, I have been proud to call myself a sixth generation South Australian, but in the more than twenty years I have lived overseas, I also know what it feels like to be a newcomer, to have to learn a new language, to start from scratch, to be far from home until a new home is made. That has been the experience of generations of migrants to this state and those who came as refugees.
Like many of our predecessors, Rod and I want Government House to be a place where all South Australians feel welcome, including those who have to travel to be here. For the Kaurna people, after all, the banks of Karrawirra Parri have been a place of coming together for many tens of thousands of years.
My own forebears came to South Australia from across the British Isles in the early decades of settlement. While some made their home in Adelaide, others journeyed north and became country people.
Rod and I look forward to visiting the regions, starting with Whyalla and the Copper Coast, and to meeting and listening to the perspectives of people who contribute so much to our State.
My maternal grandmother, born in the year of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, once recounted to me as her earliest memory - being taken as a child, amid towering women with long skirts and tiny waists, to evening celebrations outside the gates of Government House – held to mark the end of the Boer War.
Like tens of thousands of school children, I came here myself on a school visit. I hope my Instagram account will help attract a new generation of young people and educate them about the constitutional, ceremonial and community roles of the Governor.
My late father, Ian, would have been proud to have seen this day. He certainly knew the challenges and benefits of being at the forefront of technology. His own father had been one of the first people in South Australia to hold an amateur radio operator’s licence and he himself became an apprentice electrical engineer who then worked in radio and television manufacturing in the 1950s and ‘60s.
I returned to Government House in 1998, along with my sister Christine and brother Stuart, both now in COVID-19 lockdown in Sydney. We took great pride in attending our mother, Jennifer Cashmore’s, investiture as a Member in the Order of Australia – received for her services to the community and to Parliament. I am so pleased she is here today.
As schoolgirls, Christine and I would sometimes do our homework in her parliamentary office. I have taken a long and rather circuitous route to cross to this side of King William Road and it meant a great deal to me to swear my Oaths this morning on our mother’s King James Bible.
I am the third woman, after Dame Roma Mitchell and Marjorie Jackson-Nelson, to hold this role. I am pleased that this is unremarkable. In a state which has recently celebrated the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage with the theme “Their triumph, our motivation”, gender equality should be the norm – and not just for Governors.
I value diversity and inclusion and saw very clearly as Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade the many practical benefits to Australia as the Department became more and more representative of our nation’s diversity.
As a former diplomat, I am aware of the drivers of strategic, political and economic change globally and in our own Indo-Pacific region, and the challenges and opportunities this creates.
I will do my best to support the promotion of the State nationally and internationally, having seen first-hand the high regard in which its people and products are held.
As the current COVID-19 restrictions ease and new arrangements emerge, I look forward to joining the rest of the community in welcoming back loved ones, international students, business people, tourists and sporting and cultural groups. They have been sorely missed.
I urge young South Australians, our future, to contribute to and deepen their understanding of this State – and Australia – not just here but also in the wider world. They should be encouraged to leave, explore, gain experience – and to return.
South Australians have a sense of community to be proud of, exemplified by a deeply rooted culture of volunteering. There are times when we all need someone to lean on and Rod and I are looking forward to working as patrons with many organisations offering such support.
In his recent book “Vice Regal”, Philip Payton concludes that “[o]n balance, South Australia has been extremely well served by its first thirty-five Governors.” I hope, in time, the same may also be said of its thirty sixth.
Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC
GOVERNOR OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA