Thursday, 2 May 2019
Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AO QC
Premier, Chief Justice, Ministers, Your Honours, Distinguished Guests all
I pay my respects to the Gadigal of the Eora Nation and to their Elders, past and present, and especially to Aboriginal and Torres Strait peoples present here today. It is a privilege to stand on these lands which have been nurtured by the Gadigal for millenia.
It is the tradition of welcome that the proud, intelligent and warm Gadigal extend to all of us who walk upon Gadigal land, and which the custodians of traditional lands all across New South Wales extend to us, that enables us, now, to walk with them as a community. Theirs is a history which we all need to learn, to nurture and to cherish.
I especially thank Yvonne for the deeply moving ceremony which I experienced on arrival at the gates of Government House prior to the commencement of this Ceremony. These clapsticks which you see here in a place of prominence will continue to be a powerful symbol to me that we walk together as we pursue a future of true equality for our First Nations people in their own land.
There is another history which surrounds us today; also a proud and important facet of our community but one in which the rich history that preceded it was not always understood. It is of significance that Governors, in particular those who have held this office recently, have recognised this deficit and worked with Indigenous peoples to bring the two histories together, without losing the identity of either.
This is the rich tradition that we as a community seek to foster with all newcomers to this ancient and sacred home and I feel privileged to have been part of the Welcome to Country which has been extended to us.
In my own personal family history, our connection with this land is as old as the colony established by Sir Arthur Phillip, the first Governor. Our forebear, Rebecca Oakes, was the first registered birth in the colony. Our forebear on the Irish side, John Hanley came to Australia in 1850 to do what all newcomers to this country seek to do - to build a life better than the one they had through hard work and commitment to a new community.
Hard work and a commitment to better the life of their own children is also the story of my parents and true of my own family, and I am honoured to have my 2 sisters and 2 brothers and their families here with me today to celebrate with me. Likewise with my husband Dennis Wilson and so many friends stretching back to my school days including my Yr 11 and 12 teacher, Sister Patricia Malone, who was such an influential force in my education and development.
My children, Erin, Lauren and Anthony are my pride and joy. I owe them a great debt supporting me as they have in every aspect of and milestone in a very fortunate and fulfilling life. I would not be the person I am without them.
Today, of course, marks an important Constitutional occasion. The governance of this State under our Constitutional arrangements is dependent upon the appointment of, and presence in the State, of the Queen’s representative. That position is filled by the Governor or, in the Governor’s absence, by the Lieutenant-Governor. In New South Wales that is the Chief Justice, who swore-me in a few moments ago. He, too, has long been a source of great wisdom to me.
The Bible used this morning belonged to the Most Reverend Roger William Bede Vaughan, Second Archbishop of Sydney. Dating back to the 1870’s, the bible still bears Archbishop Vaughan’s signature on the inside cover. Today the Bible is under the care of the Catholic Institute of Sydney’s Veech Library in Strathfield, and I am grateful to them, and the Catholic Archidiocese for entrusting me with such a precious relic.
The Constitutional arrangements which we observe in this State today date back 231 years, providing New South Wales with a proud and stable history which has accommodated itself to the needs of the time, including the recognition, in 1946, when Lieutenant-General Sir John Northcott was appointed, that the role could be ably filled by persons other than solely by those born in the United Kingdom.
In addition to the Constitutional role, the history that is marked by today’s ceremony is a history of service to the community. It is in this respect that I wish to acknowledge the work that has been done by those that have preceded me in this role.
In particular, I acknowledge two predecessors who are present today - Rear Admiral the Honourable Peter Sinclair and Professor the Honourable Dame Marie Bashir. And of course, my immediate predecessor and the Governor-General-Designate, General the Honourable David Hurley. They have honoured me with their good wishes and their wisdom. The work they have done in and for the community has been significant, ground-breaking and is long-lasting. In taking up this appointment, I am most fortunate and grateful for that legacy.
My entire career to this point has been in the law – it is probably fair to say that it is a part of my DNA. The rule of law is foundational to our cohesive society – it binds us; it guides us. And it is no coincidence that in this group gathered here today are many of our legislators – Ministers, Presiding Officers and Members of Parliament – as well as members of the judiciary.
The ‘separation of powers’ convention under our Constitutional monarchy rightly establishes a separation of the Crown, the legislature and the judiciary. In my new role, I represent the former. I, of course, come from the latter.
To my Ministers, as the democratically elected representatives of the people, I commend you for the work that you do for this State. I look forward to receiving your counsel in matters of State, and for the opportunity to share with you my own observations as I, too, meet with individuals, organisations and communities across New South Wales during the term of my Commission.
I want to use my time in service of the community to advance the opportunities for New South Wales, both domestically and internationally.
Education, in my view, is critical to leveraging those opportunities, especially for our young people. We have a great wealth of emerging young leaders in this State and I want to learn more about their vision for our future.
I am a devotee of arts, sports and healthy living. As individuals and as a broader community, these serve to enrich our lives. They expand our minds, challenge us physically and intellectually, and drive us to think positively and critically about the environment in which we live.
I have a deep belief in our community. In this role, I look forward with hope and enthusiasm to walking together with you all as Governor. And by “all”, I embrace the whole New South Wales community.
Finally, I wish to express my appreciation to the Premier and the Government of New South Wales for the trust that has been placed in me, and to again publicly state that I am honoured and privileged to have been appointed the 39th Governor of New South Wales by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to serve the community of this great State.