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Monday, 1 March 2021
Government House, Sydney
Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of New South Wales

Bujari gamarruwa, diyn babana gamarada Gadigal ngura.

‘G’day’ in the language of the Gadigal people, the Traditional Owners of the land on which Government House stands. I pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Dame Marie, what an honour it is for me to welcome you back to the House, on this 20th anniversary of your swearing-in, along with members of your family and former officials and staff. I am also pleased to welcome stone masons Jasper, Robert and Paul from Public Works.

I suspect most of us here have heard visitors to this building exclaim “if only these walls could talk”. Today is a reminder that they do!

From today these walls will speak of the first female Governor of New South Wales.

Dame Marie, this three-dimensional representation of your Coat of Arms will speak to generations to come of your life, passion and service.

The shield at its centre speaks of your dedication to medicine and the marginalised, symbolised by the Rod of Caduceus. The open book tells of your enthusiasm for learning and education, and those harps side ring out proclaiming your passion for music. I am fond of that sheaf of wheat at the bottom, a lovely reminder of your childhood in Narrandera. What a significant moment it was for our State when that girl from the bush became Governor of New South Wales!

Then there is the red rampant lion at the top, a symbol of government and authority as well as strength and courage.

There is more symbolism of course and we will hear more about that later. But I do want to highlight the motto.

Dame Marie – these were the things that you said mattered most – Friends, Family, Faith. Today your family and friends are by your side. When your painted Coat of Arms was unveiled in 2014, you explained Faith as “Faith in humanity – hope in other words.”[1]

Although these walls will speak of your contributions for centuries to come, our greatest legacies don’t live on in stone but in the hearts of others and in lives, institutions and systems changed for the better – to use an old fashioned term - change for the commonwealth of all.

I recall you being interviewed at the time of your retirement from this role. A gentleman from the Sydney Morning Herald asked you about your advice for Governors. You said:

“Walk and work amongst the people - that's where the joy is. The pomp and circumstance is beautiful but the real joy is seeing people get things done."[2]

The advice rings true.

Thank you to all those involved in getting this Coat of Arms done – to our Estate Manager, Dayn, and to our masons from Public Works, Jasper, Robert and Paul. This has been quite a process with the approval of the concept sketch in November 2018, the careful picking of sandstone which came from a pit in Harris Street Pyrmont, several versions of a clay model, with final approval in July 2020, and then the expert process of cutting and carving this work and then installing it here on the Arcade.

Let the walls speak!

I am now delighted to officially unveil the sandstone Coats of Arms of the 37th Governor of New South Wales, Professor the Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO.

[1] Sydney Morning Herald – Marie Bashir’s final week as NSW Governor.  The unveiling of the portrait and Coat of Arms was 22 September 2021, the article was published on 24 September 2014

[2] ibid

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