Speech by: His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd)
Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia
National Trusts of Australia Reception, Tuesday, 18 April 2017

  • I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Ngunnawal People and pay my respects to their elders, past and present, and to elders from other communities who may be with us today.
  • Mr Scott McAlister (Chair), Dr Marion Myhill (Deputy Chair) and Mr Thomas Perrigo (CEO, National Trusts of Australia )
  • The Honourable Dr David Alistair Kemp
    (Chair, Australian Heritage Council)
  • The Honourable Josh Frydenberg
    (Minister for the Environment and Energy)
  • Mr Mick Gentleman (State Minister for Planning)
  • Major General the Honourable Michael Jeffery
    (Former Patron, National Trusts of Australia) and
    Mrs Marlena Jeffery
  • The Honourable Margaret Reid AO
    (Patron, National Trust Australian Capital Territory)
  • Members of National Trusts across Australia
  • Members of the Australian Heritage Council
  • Distinguished guests
  • Ladies and Gentlemen

What is it that defines a nation? Is it its economy, its government, it sporting prowess, its people? Well I suspect it is all these things, and more.

But surely one of the most defining characteristics of a nation is its heritage. Heritage tells us of our past—who we have been, our history, our origins. It reflects our present—who we are today and the lives we lead, the aspirations we have. And it gives an insight into the future—who we might become, the things we value, the direction we might take.

Whatever our heritage is—we are its guardians. It is our time to experience and enjoy it. It is our turn to preserve and promote it for those who come after us.

And it is here that the work of the National Trusts is so valuable. You preserve our heritage. And you bring it to life, encourage Australians to be involved, to experience it, to think about it and celebrate what it is.

This year as part of the Australian Heritage Festival over a million people will participate in thousands of events—from the history of La Perouse Headland to an exhibition of the work of Charles Bean.

It’s an opportunity for communities to tell their stories—but just as importantly to hear the stories of others. And it is through this process of interaction and engagement that we can develop a shared sense of heritage—quite a challenge in a nation that is so diverse and has so many experiences and interpretations of what it is to be Australian.

The respect we show for our heritage can only happen through the dedication, commitment and enthusiasm of people:

  • People who really genuinely care.
  • People who volunteer their time and expertise and work tirelessly in so many ways on so many projects.

Thankfully, this is what the National Trust, its members, staff and volunteers do—and to all of you I say thank you.
I would also like to recognise the many life members of the National Trust who are here tonight and throughout Australia for your commitment and enthusiasm over so many years.

I am sure you are all driven by the respect and love for our heritage. And I am sure it is a rewarding undertaking.

In many ways by preserving our heritage you are preserving not just a piece Australia, but are also investing a piece of yourselves.

So as Patron of the National Trust—on what is, quite appropriately, World Heritage Day—it is my pleasure to officially launch the month long Australian Heritage Festival.

Thank you.