Her Excellency The Honourable Margaret Beazley AO QC
Thank you, Uncle Allen, for your warm Welcome to Country. I pay my respects to the traditional owners of this land upon which Government House is situated, the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, and their Elders, past and present. New South Wales sits within the geography of many Indigenous Nations and I pay my respects to all Indigenous peoples of those nations.
This evening is a special occasion marked by the presence of so many good friends. We are also delighted to have a New South Wales arts company, The Song Company, join us this evening. We are especially pleased to have the world premiere of Antony Pitts’ Adoro Te devote here at Government House.
Taking a cue from the Song Company’s songsheet, Government House is a place ‘where minds meet and voices blend’ ...
It is a busy and welcoming House and I wish to take this opportunity to thank each and every member of staff and the guides, including the volunteer guides, who make this such a special and happy place.
Some have suggested that the pace of this first six months has been akin to the allegro of a first movement - joyful, lively and fast. Someone even went so far as to say it felt like playing hemi-demi-semi-quavers (I think they were just carried away with the lyricism of the moment - I didn’t take it personally.)
A great deal happens in the House with receptions and morning teas and award presentations and investitures, where we honour and celebrate so many people and organisations who contribute so significantly to the community, including: medical and scientific research institutes; organisations that support people with disabilities; organisations that promote youth endeavours and leadership; and those that promote educational excellence.
However, it is our regional visits that have provided us with a greater overview of our statewide community and have particularly brought home to us the tragedy of the drought and bushfires.
There is not a lot one can say as you shake hands with someone who has nothing else than the clothes they are wearing … or when you ask someone ‘how are they going’ and they tell you they have a broken back – flipped off a motor bike whilst trying to round up their cattle to save them from the fire that was roaring down the hill.
The local mayor and the local publican are at the centre of these communities, some of which are large, some tiny, dotted throughout New South Wales, and the loss and the tragedy are palpable.
Arising out of a visit to Eden a few weeks ago, we suggested to the Twofold Bay Aboriginal Corporation that they might like to have one of their trainees come to the House and ‘shadow’ staff here at Government House for a couple of days.
This is a modest initiative, but we are hopeful of its positive impact in the community. It is also a positive note on which to end this year and commence the next.
In tough conditions, there is no better a time than now to support our rural and regional producers. Tonight, we are enjoying our award-winning and fresh food and wine produce from across New South Wales; including duck from Thirlmere Poultry, Eden Smoked Trout Mousse and Wild Mushroom Truffle Tartlets, with handpicked wild mushrooms from Bowral. And what would be a Christmas reception without Christmas Cake! Our Christmas Cake from Cana Farm is legendary and supports a charitable organisation and social enterprise that provides outreach opportunities, education, work and life skills, and community support to people who have experienced long-term trauma and rejection.
Dennis and I wish you a very happy Christmas, New Year and holiday period. Please join me in a toast:
To a Safe, Joyful and Peaceful
Festive season and New Year.
To conclude our official proceedings this evening we have a very special treat – not one, but two more pieces by The Song Company. And the first is extremely special indeed.
First, the premier of Antony Pitts’ exquisite composition of Adoro te devote to be followed immediately by the hauntingly beautiful and lyrical Ave Maria by the 16th century English composer Robert Parsons.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome back to the podium, Antony Pitts and The Song Company.