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KEY RESULTS

OFFICIAL ACTIVITIES OVERVIEW

The official activities which form part of Component 1 include representational events such as investitures, receptions, lunches and dinners hosted by the Governor-General. In addition to those functions, the Governor-General attended 339 domestic events hosted by others, reflecting considerable ceremonial obligations and regional community engagement. Throughout 2019–20, the Governor-General participated in 816 official engagements, and welcomed 34,053 guests and visitors to Government House and Admiralty House. This volume reflects the Governor-General’s (and Office’s) focus on uplifting and celebrating Australians. The Office’s website (www.gg.gov.au) provided regular updates on the broad range of activities undertaken by the Governor-General.

TABLE 4: ACTIVITIES AND CORRESPONDENCE IN 2019–20

Official activities

Number

Attendees

Events hosted - Government House

111

4,269

Events hosted - Admiralty House

20

1,133

Events hosted - offsite

8

187

Total

139

5,589

Other domestic events attended

339

Credentials

16

Overseas events attended

40

Callers

309

Executive Council meetings

31

School tours

359

19,315a

Anniversary requests handled

14,280b

Items of correspondence handled

2,146c

Notes:

a) Includes school students, teaching staff and other accompanying adults

b) Requests for messages of congratulation from Her Majesty The Queen and the Governor-General for Australians celebrating special birthdays or wedding anniversaries.

c) General correspondence, exclusive of matters relating to the Australian honours and awards system.

CONSTITUTIONAL ACTIVITIES

The Office supports the performance of the Governor-General’s constitutional duties by undertaking research and planning, liaising with other agencies and organisations, coordinating briefing material and providing advice.

On 1 July 2019, the Governor-General was sworn in as the 27th Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia at Parliament House. The following day, on 2 July 2019, as his first official engagement, the Governor-General attended a ceremony at which he opened the first session of the 46thParliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, at Parliament House, Canberra.

During 2019–20, the Office supported the Governor-General (or those Administrators representing him) in presiding at 31 meetings of the Federal Executive Council, at which 353 agenda items were considered. Royal Assent was given to 148 pieces of legislation.

On 6 February 2020, the Governor-General hosted a swearing-in ceremony to issue the Instruments of Appointment and the Oaths and Affirmations of Office to five Ministers and one Parliamentary Secretary at a ceremony at Government House.

COMMANDER- IN-CHIEF

Under section 68 of the Constitution, the Governor-General is the Commander-in-Chief of the ADF, including the permanent force and reservists. In this role, through the Federal Executive Council, the Governor-General appoints the Chief and Vice Chief of the Defence Force, the Chiefs of the three armed services, and commissions officers in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), the Australian Army, and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

As Commander-in-Chief, the Governor-General plays an important role, including attending military parades, graduation ceremonies and presenting colours and honours to ADF units. In 2019–20, the Governor-General presided over several military events in Australia and abroad.

  • On 21 November 2019, at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland, the Governor-General attended the Consecration of the 86 Wing Squadron Standard.
  • On 6 December 2019, at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra, the Governor-General attended the 2019 Australian Command and Staff Course Graduation Ceremony.
  • On 10 December 2019, at Duntroon, Canberra, the Governor-General attended the Royal Military College Graduation Parade and Commissioning Ceremony.
  • On 12 December 2019, at Campbell, Canberra, the Governor-General attended the Australian Defence Force Academy Graduation Parade.
  • On 17 December 2019, in Baghdad, Iraq, the Governor-General met with ADF members from Special Operations Task Group 632.
  • On 18 December 2019, in Kabul, Afghanistan, the Governor-General met with ADF members of Task Group Afghanistan, ADF personnel deployed to the Headquarters of NATO Mission Resolute Support, and ADF members of Joint Task Force 633.
  • On 2 March 2020, at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, the Governor-General attend a presentation of Theatre Honour East Timor and Celebration of Army’s 119th Birthday.

The Office liaised closely with the Department of Defence, Department of Veterans’ Affairs and individual military establishments to coordinate the Governor-General’s involvement in these events.

COMMEMORATIONS

  • On 14 August 2019, at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, the Governor-General attended a Last Post Ceremony for Honouring Women United by Defence Service.
  • On 11 November 2019, at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, the Governor-General attended the Remembrance Day National Ceremony and delivered the commemorative address.
  • On 22 January 2020, at the Mt Scopus Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, Jerusalem, Israel, the Governor-General laid a wreath at the grave of an Australian soldier.
  • On 25 April 2020, at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, the Governor-General attended an Anzac Day commemorative ceremony marking the 105th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing.

CEREMONIAL ACTIVITIES

In 2019–20, the Office supported the Governor-General in the performance of a wide range of ceremonial functions, such as presenting Australian honours and awards, receiving foreign dignitaries, and representing Australia overseas on state, official and commemorative occasions.

INVESTITURES

The Governor-General presided at eight investiture ceremonies for Australian honours and award recipients, in 2019–20. Three general sessions held at Government House in September 2019 saw the presentation of 144 awards to individuals for outstanding achievement and significant contributions to the community and the nation. The awards included honours within the Order of Australia, decorations for military service in operational and peacetime activities, and those for bravery and public service. In addition, the Governor-General presided over five ad hoc investiture ceremonies.

Investiture ceremonies scheduled for April 2020 at Government House (to recognise those individuals honoured in the Australia Day Honours List) were postponed as a result of physical distancing measures and restrictions on gatherings in response to COVID-19.

CREDENTIALS PRESENTATIONS BY NEW HEADS OF MISSION

The Office worked closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in arranging credentials ceremonies to enable newly appointed heads of diplomatic missions to present their letters of credence or commission to the Governor-General shortly after arriving in Canberra.

In 2019–20, six credentials ceremonies were held at Government House for 19 Ambassadors or High Commissioners from: Costa Rica, Germany, Colombia, Estonia, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Italy, Zimbabwe, Vanuatu, Nepal, India, Cambodia, Algeria, Egypt, Austria, Ecuador, Greece, Timor-Leste and Korea.

As a result of measures in response to COVID-19, two virtual credentials ceremonies were held by video conference for the High Commissioners of Mauritius and Botswana.

Separately, two credentials ceremonies were held for the non-resident Ambassadors of Bahrain and Yemen.

CITIZENSHIP CEREMONIES

The Governor-General presided at three citizenship ceremonies in 2019–20:

  • On 17 September 2019, at South Newman Primary School, in Newman, Western Australia, the Governor-General hosted a Citizenship Ceremony at which Australian Citizenship was conferred on 18 recipients.
  • On 26 January 2020, in Canberra, the Governor-General attended the National Flag Raising and Citizenship Ceremony at which Australian Citizenship was conferred on 29 recipients.
  • On 26 January 2020, at Admiralty House, Sydney, the Governor-General hosted an Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony at which Australian Citizenship was conferred on 50 recipients.

MEETINGS WITH HEADS OF STATE AND OTHER DIGNITARIES

  • On the 22 July 2019, at Government House, Canberra, the Governor-General met with the Honourable James Marape MP, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, and Mrs Rachael Marape.
  • On 9 October 2019, at Admiralty House, Sydney, the Governor-General met with His Excellency Mr Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
  • On 21 October 2019, in Tokyo, Japan, the Governor-General met with Ms Yuriko Koike, Governor of Tokyo.
  • On 22 October 2019, in Tokyo, Japan, the Governor-General met with His Excellency Sir David Vunagi GCMG, Governor-General of the Solomon Islands, and His Excellency Sir Bob Dadae GCMG KStJ, Governor-General of Papua New Guinea.
  • On 22 October 2019, in Tokyo, Japan, the Governor-General met with Her Excellency Dame Patsy Reddy GNZM QSO, Governor-General of New Zealand.
  • On 22 October 2019, in Tokyo, Japan, the Governor-General attended a ceremony and court banquet to mark the enthronement of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan.
  • On 23 October 2019, in Tokyo, Japan, the Governor-General, as the guest of His Excellency Mr Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, attended a banquet for Heads of State, Royals, Prime Ministers and other representatives attending the enthronement of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan.
  • On 3 December 2019, at Government House, Canberra, the Governor-General met with Mr Nguyen Thien Nhan, Secretary, Ho Chi Minh City Communist Party.
  • On 16 December 2019, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the Governor-General met with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai.
  • On 16 December 2019, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, the Governor-General met with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates.
  • On 17 December 2019, in Baghdad, Iraq, the Governor-General met with His Excellency Mr Barham Salih, President of the Republic of Iraq.
  • On 18 December 2019, in Kabul, Afghanistan, the Governor-General met with His Excellency Dr Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
  • On 21 January 2020, in Jerusalem, Israel, the Governor-General met with His Excellency the Honourable Reuven Rivlin, President of the State of Israel, and attended a State Dinner as part of events to mark the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
  • On 22 January 2020, in Ramallah, Palestinian Territories, the Governor-General met with Dr Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority.
  • On 9 February 2020, at Government House, Canberra, the Governor-General hosted a Ceremonial Welcome, bilateral discussions and a State Lunch in honour of His Excellency Mr Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia.
  • On 12 February 2020, at Government House, Canberra, the Governor-General met with Mr Demetris Syllouris, President of the House of Representatives, and members of the Parliament of the Republic of Cyprus.
  • On 26 February 2020, at Government House, Canberra, the Governor-General hosted a Ceremonial Welcome, bilateral discussions and a State Lunch in honour of His Excellency the Honourable Reuven Rivlin, President of the State of Israel.
  • On 27 February 2020, at Government House, Canberra, the Governor-General met with Ms Ulrike Muller MEP, Chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Australia and New Zealand.
  • On 28 February 2020, at Admiralty House, Sydney, the Governor-General met with the Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern MP, Prime Minister of New Zealand.
  • On the 8 April 2020, at Government House, Canberra, the Governor-General spoke by telephone with Her Excellency Ms Kersti Kaljulaid, President of the Republic of Estonia.
  • On the 17 April 2020, at Government House, Canberra, the Governor-General spoke by telephone with His Excellency the Right Reverend Sir David Vunagi GCMG, Governor-General of the Solomon Islands.
  • On 8 May 2020, at Government House, Canberra, the Governor-General met via video conference with His Excellency Pastor Obed Moses Tallis, President of the Republic of Vanuatu.
  • On 14 May 2020, at Government House, Canberra, the Governor-General met via video conference with His Excellency Major-General Jioji Konusi Konrote (Retd), the President of the Republic of Fiji.
  • On the 4 June 2020, at Government House, Canberra, the Governor-General met via video conference with His Excellency Sir Tom Marsters KBE, the Queen’s Representative to the Cook Islands.
  • On the 12 June 2020, at Government House, Canberra, the Governor-General spoke by phone with Her Excellency Teniku Talesi Honolulu, Acting Governor-General of Tuvalu.

OFFICIAL OVERSEAS VISITS

In 2019–20, the Office planned and supported three overseas visits by the Governor-General.

  • From 20 to 25 October 2019, the Governor-General travelled to Japan, where he represented Australia at events to mark the enthronement of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan.
  • From 16 to 19 December 2019, the Governor-General travelled to the United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Afghanistan, where he met with Australian Embassy staff and ADF members.
  • From 19 to 24 January 2020, the Governor-General travelled to Israel, where he represented Australia at events to mark the International Leaders’ Forum on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. During the visit, the Governor-General travelled to the Palestinian Territories on Wednesday 22 January.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Celebrating, comforting, inspiring and uplifting the community is an important element of the Governor-General’s role, and a key consideration for the Office in planning and delivering a balanced program that reflects Australia’s diversity and geography. Each year, the Governor-General meets with members of the community in cities and towns – including those in regional and remote areas – across Australia.

  • On 12 July 2019, in Julia Creek, Queensland, the Governor-General met with community members and hosted a community dinner in recognition of flood recovery and rebuilding efforts.
  • On 18 July 2019, at Government House, the Governor-General hosted a reception for heads of the Diplomatic Corps.
  • On 3 August 2019, in Darwin, Northern Territory, the Governor-General hosted a picnic to celebrate National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day.
  • On 10 August 2019, in Brisbane, Queensland, the Governor-General met with Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur and visited technology start-ups at The Precinct.
  • On 29 August 2019, in Albury, New South Wales, the Governor-General attended the State Funeral of the late Mr Timothy Fischer AC at the Albury Entertainment Centre.
  • On 16 September 2019, in Karratha, Western Australia, the Governor-General met with students at Karratha High School and visited the Australian Regular Army’s Pilbara Regiment.
  • On 27 September 2019, at the National Police Memorial in Kings Park, Canberra, the Governor-General attended the National Police Remembrance Day Service.
  • On 30 October 2019, at Government House, Canberra, the Governor-General hosted a physical training session for ADF members and veterans in recognition of Veterans’ Health Week.
  • On 9 November 2019, in Greta, New South Wales, the Governor-General participated in events to mark the 80th anniversary of the Greta Army Camp.
  • On 25 November 2019, in Adelaide, South Australia, the Governor-General attended the annual Tarnanthi Festival.
  • On 10 December 2019, in Canberra, the Governor-General attended graduation ceremonies for the Canberra PCYC’s Adventure, Booyah and Intensive Diversion programs.
  • On 16 January 2020, at Admiralty House, Sydney, the Governor-General hosted a reception for the Indigenous Australian Engineering Summer School Class of 2020.
  • On 28 January 2020, at Drummoyne Oval, Sydney, the Governor-General hosted the annual Governor-General’s XI women’s cricket match, against the Indian women’s cricket team.
  • On 1 February 2020, in Melbourne, the Governor-General met with staff involved in COVID-19 research at the University of Melbourne’s Doherty Institute.
  • On 7 March 2020, in Bellingen, New South Wales, the Governor-General attended community events as part of the 2020 Sergeant Matthew Locke MG Charity Match weekend.
  • On 12 May 2020, in Canberra, the Governor-General met with staff at ACT Health’s Drive-Through COVID-19 Respiratory Assessment Clinic.
  • On 18 June 2020, in Melbourne, the Governor-General met with research staff at Monash University’s Biomedicine Discovery Institute and visited CSIRO’s Clayton Precinct.

PATRONAGES

At the end of the reporting period, the Governor-General and Mrs Hurley were patrons of a total of 2141 organisations involved with health, children and families, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, regional and rural Australia, education, the arts, defence and services, and other matters relevant to the broader Australian community. They serve as Patron (or in some cases, co-Patrons) of these organisations to help raise their profile and support their work in the community.

Through their Patronage, which can include visiting organisations on the ground (witnessing first-hand how they support their communities), attending or hosting events, providing messages of support, promoting initiatives and thanking volunteers, Their Excellencies uplift and encourage the people the organisations help.

REGIONAL CENTRE VISITS

During 2019–20, over a third of the domestic events attended by the Governor-General were in regional, rural and remote locations.

  • From 10 to 15 July 2019, the Governor-General travelled to Queensland, where he met with agencies involved in flood recovery and hosted community events in the outback towns of Julia Creek and Cloncurry, opened the Kapani Cup in the Indigenous community of Arukun, visited service agencies in Weipa and met with ADF members at Exercise Talisman Sabre in Rockhampton.
  • From 1 to 3 August 2019, the Governor-General travelled to the Northern Territory, where he attended the Garma Festival of Traditional Cultures in the remote Indigenous community of Gulkula, and hosted community engagement events in Darwin.
  • From 8 to 10 August 2019, the Governor-General travelled to Queensland, where he visited the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service and the Joyce Wilding Hostel, met with community representatives and officially opened the 2019 Royal Queensland Show in Brisbane.
  • From 29 to 31 August 2019, the Governor-General travelled to South-East Queensland where he met with school students, major employers and hosted a community reception in Goondawindi. In addition, the Governor-General travelled to northern New South Wales, where he visited landowners affected by long-term drought in Warialda and Tamworth, attended a Civic Reception in Tamworth and officially opened the Tamworth Show.
  • From 14 to 17 September 2019, the Governor-General travelled to Western Australia, where he visited the Perth Mosque and hosted a dinner for Families of the Fallen in Perth, hosted community events in Karatha, presided over a Citizenship Ceremony in Newman, met with staff of Big hART New Roebourne Project and visited the remote Indigenous community of Jigalong.
  • From 23 and 26 September 2019, the Governor-General travelled to Tasmania, where he visited the Parliament of Tasmania, Australian Antarctic Division Headquarters and the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies.
  • From 10 to 11 October 2019, the Governor-General travelled to New South Wales, where he met with veterans at the South Coast Private Hospital, visited the BlueScope Steelworks and hosted a lunch to mark mental health in the workplace for One Door Illawarra in Wollongong.
  • From 25 to 27 November 2019, the Governor-General travelled to South Australia, where he visited the Parliament of South Australia, Vinnies Women’s Crisis Centre, Lot 14 Technology Precinct, APY Collective Gallery and Osborne Naval Shipyard in Port Adelaide.
  • On 8 February 2020, the Governor-General travelled to New South Wales, where he officially opened the 2020 Tenterfield Show.
  • From 7 to 8 March 2020, the Governor-General travelled to New South Wales, where he attended community engagement events in Bellingen, and received a briefing on Mission Australia’s social housing project in Coffs Harbour.

RESPONSE TO 2019–20 BUSHFIRE SEASON

Recognising the devastating impact of bushfires in many parts of Australia during 2019–20, the Governor-General placed a significant emphasis on visiting bushfire-affected communities to acknowledge the contributions made by the individuals, agencies and other organisations involved in response, recovery and rebuilding efforts.

  • On 23 September 2019, the Governor-General travelled to Glen Innes and Tenterfield, New South Wales, where he visited the Northern Tablelands Fire Control Centre and hosted a lunch for community members and service agencies at the Tenterfield Bushfire Recovery Hub.
  • On the 8 October 2019, the Governor-General travelled to Noosa, Binna Burra and Canungra, Queensland, where he met with community members and business owners impacted by bushfire.
  • On 1 November 2019, the Governor-General travelled to Casino and Ewingar, New South Wales, where he visited the Northern Rivers Fire Control Centre, received a briefing on bushfire activity in the region and hosted a community barbecue.
  • On 27 November 2019, the Governor-General travelled to Adelaide, South Australia, where he met with staff at the South Australian Country Fire Service Headquarters and received a briefing on bushfire response efforts.
  • On 29 November 2019, the Governor-General travelled to Carwoola, New South Wales, where he met with volunteer members of the Carwoola Rural Fire Brigade.
  • On 7 December 2019, the Governor-General travelled to Ulmarra, Nymboida and Grafton, New South Wales, where he visited the Clarence Valley Fire Control Centre and Aviation Support Centre, and met with community members at the Nymboida Recovery Centre.
  • On 9 December 2019, the Governor-General travelled to Sydney, New South Wales, where he visited the NSW Rural Fire Service State Operations Centre.
  • On 2 January 2020, the Governor-General travelled to Sale, Victoria, where he received a briefing on the bushfire response and recovery activities by the ADF, and met with staff and volunteer members of the Country Fire Authority’s Sale Brigade and Forest Fire Management Victoria.
  • On 5 January 2020, the Governor-General travelled to Bairnsdale and Lucknow, Victoria, where he visited the Bairnsdale Recovery Centre and the Lucknow Bushfire Relief Centre, and met with ADF members involved in bushfire response at RAAF Base East Sale.
  • On 7 January 2020, the Governor-General travelled to Kangaroo Island, Adelaide and the Adelaide Hills, South Australia, where he received a briefing on the bushfire response, visited the South Australian Country Fire Service Headquarters and met with organisations assisting bushfire-affected residents at the Lobethal Bushfire Recovery Centre.
  • On 9 January 2020, the Governor-General travelled to Moruya, Mogo, Malua Bay and Broulee, New South Wales, where he received a briefing at the Moruya Rural Fire Service Incident Control Centre, visited the NSW Rural Fire Service’s Broulee brigade and met with community members and business owners impacted by bushfire.
  • On 13 January 2020, the Governor-General travelled to Queanbeyan, Braidwood and Araluen, New South Wales, where he visited the Queanbeyan Rural Fire Service Fire Control Centre, met with BlazeAid volunteers, local business owners and community members, and attended a lunch with the Araluen Volunteer Bushfire Brigade.
  • On 15 January 2020, the Governor-General travelled to Nowra, Milton and Lake Conjola, New South Wales, where he visited local NSW Rural Fire Service Brigades and met with community members and business owners impacted by bushfire.
  • On 11 February 2020, the Governor-General travelled to Melbourne, Victoria, where he met with staff at Emergency Management Victoria’s State Control Centre and the Red Cross National Coordination Centre.
  • On 24 February 2020, the Governor-General travelled to Buxton, Hill Top and Balmoral, New South Wales, where he met with bushfire relief and recovery staff of the Wingecarribee Shire Council, and hosted an afternoon tea for NSW Rural Fire Service volunteer members and community representatives.
  • On 7 March 2020, the Governor-General travelled to Bellingen and Hydes Creek, New South Wales, where he attended a community lunch and met with NSW Rural Fire Service volunteer members.
  • On 12 March 2020, the Governor-General travelled to Kangaroo Island, South Australia, where he met with community members and business owners impacted by bushfire.
  • On 23 March 2020, the Governor-General travelled to Sydney, New South Wales, where he attended a State Memorial for those impacted by bushfires.
  • On 27 March 2020, the Governor-General hosted a morning tea at Government House, Canberra, for the families of four American firefighters killed in a plane crash south of Canberra.
  • On 18 May 2020, the Governor-General travelled to Jerrabomberra, Sutton and Murrumbateman, New South Wales, where he met with NSW Rural Fire Service volunteer members.
  • On 20 May 2020, the Governor-General held a virtual meeting with volunteer members of NSW Rural Fire Service brigades in Albury, the Blue Mountains, Cooma and the Clarence Valley.
  • On 22 May 2020, the Governor-General travelled to Tumut, Adelong and Batlow, New South Wales, where he attended a briefing on bushfire recovery at the Snowy Valley Council, hosted a lunch for BlazeAid volunteers, met with NSW Rural Fire Service volunteer members and visited local business owners impacted by bushfire.
  • From 23 to 24 June 2020, the Governor-General held virtual meetings with community members and organisations involved in the bushfire response, recovery and rebuilding in Mallacoota, Genoa, Orbost and East Gippsland, Victoria.

RESPONSE TO COVID-19

In response to the Australian Government’s measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 – including restrictions on international and domestic travel, and limitations on gatherings – the Governor-General transitioned to an extensive program of virtual engagement from March 2020.

Through telephone calls, video messages, video conferencing and online streaming, the Governor-General met with patronages, local councils, community groups, schools and other organisations across Australia.

  • Between 23 March and 30 June 2020, the Governor-General made 118 telephone calls, recorded 48 video messages and participated in 33 video conferences.
  • On the 7 April 2020, in a first by an Australian Governor-General, Letters of Commission were received in a virtual ceremony with the incoming High Commissioners of Mauritius and Botswana.
  • On 17 April 2020, the Governor-General hosted a video conference for Global Voices’ 2020 Scholars.
  • On 24 April 2020, the Governor-General delivered the keynote speech for the virtual launch of The Forgotten by Dr Will Davies.
  • On 27 May 2020, the Governor-General hosted a live reading on Facebook for the Australian Library and Information Association’s National Simultaneous Storytime 2020.
  • On 22 June 2020, the Governor-General opened the Australian Institute of Health and Safety’s virtual Conference, #Safetyscape.

OFFICIAL PROPERTIES AND COMMUNITY EVENTS

On 6 October 2019, the Office hosted an Open Day at Government House, Canberra, with 4,500 visitors who were provided with the opportunity to explore the house and its grounds, and meet the Governor-General and Mrs Hurley.

Open Days at Government House and Admiralty House scheduled for March and May 2020 were cancelled as a result of measures in response to COVID-19.

In total, over 34,000 members of the public visited Government House and Admiralty House in 2019–20.

MEDIA

The Governor-General’s constitutional, statutory, ceremonial and community duties are communicated through social media, traditional media engagement and other channels.

Key activities included:

  • supporting the Governor-General by producing 142 speeches and remarks for delivery at community events around the country
  • managing engagement with national, local and international media. The Office works with the media to:
    • enable access to key events such as investiture ceremonies
    • promote community events, including Open Days and community events to promote organisations of which the Governor-General and/or Mrs Hurley serve as Patrons
    • highlight the Governor-General’s key priorities, such as supporting communities impacted by fire, flood, drought and COVID-19
  • managing the Governor-General’s social media presence. The Office uses social media to reach and engage with Australians, promote program activity to a large audience, and raise awareness of the Australian honours and awards system
  • working with patronages to increase the recognition of their work and achievements through video messages, social media content and media coverage of events hosted or attended by the Governor-General and Mrs Hurley
  • the Governor-General’s National Australia Day and Anzac Day televised addresses (broadcast by the ABC).

CORRESPONDENCE

In 2019–20 the Office received and attended to 2,146 items of general correspondence. The Honours and Awards branch received more than 26,846 items of correspondence including 3,347 nominations for Order of Australia and Bravery decorations. This does not include emails received directly by staff of the Honours and Awards branch.

The Office sent 8,046 congratulatory messages from the Governor-General for significant birthday and wedding anniversaries and 6,234 congratulatory messages on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen.

PROPERTY MANAGEMENT

The two official residences of the Governor-General (Government House in Canberra and Admiralty House in Sydney) were included in the Commonwealth Heritage List in June 2004 as places of significant heritage value owned or controlled by the Commonwealth. Their inclusion means the Office must protect their heritage value. The Office manages the properties in accordance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

In 2019–20, the Office consistently applied the principles of ecologically sustainable development and considered potential environmental and heritage impacts when making management decisions. To maintain the heritage integrity and standards of the official residences and all property assets, the Office:

  • engages suitably qualified heritage consultants to provide advice when needed
  • maintains a Heritage Strategy as a framework for management of the properties
  • has detailed Heritage Management Plans, to meet the EPBC Act requirements, for the residences and associated landscapes
  • consults with the National Capital Authority before undertaking works at Government House that fall within the Authority’s legislative responsibilities
  • consults, as required, with the Department of the Environment on how best to undertake heritage assessments, prepare management plans, and protect the values of the heritage properties
  • where works have, or are likely to have, a significant impact on heritage issues, seeks approval from the Minister responsible for heritage matters (as required by the EPBC Act).

The annual priorities and initiatives for both properties are outlined in the Property Management Plan (PMP). The Property Works Program (PWP) is a program of projects designed to deliver the outcomes of the PMP. It identifies the priority works for the four years of the forward estimates at a high level, broadly in line with a twenty-year plan prepared in 2014 that identified property works priorities. When unforeseen works arise (for example, when ageing infrastructure fails unexpectedly or latent conditions are encountered during works), the plan is adjusted and priorities reviewed to accommodate emerging needs.

In 2019–20, a number of projects were undertaken at the properties, to the total value of $2,931,000 (against a total budget of $3,455,000). The underspend was caused by a delay to the Kirribilli Point Battery Precinct project which required cost engineering and extended contract negotiations to manage project costs.

The Office has successfully transitioned to the Whole of Australian Government Property Services Arrangements established by the Department of Finance. The Property Service Provider to the Office provides broad facilities management services including sustainability engineering and has developed procurement and reporting efficiencies.

The provision of grounds maintenance services at Kirribilli House for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet under a Memorandum of Understanding continues to deliver value and savings for the Commonwealth. This initiative has reduced costs through leveraging the Office’s existing resources and systems co-located at Admiralty House.

GOVERNMENT HOUSE

The major works projects undertaken at Government House during 2019–20 included:

  • Design and installation continued during the year to upgrade the environmental and economic efficiency of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC) to the Main House. The new systems will improve air conditioning within this heritage building with efficiency gains both financially and environmentally.
  • Installation was completed for the first and second stages of replacement of external lighting and electrical cabling throughout the grounds. This project included upgrades to the lighting of main pedestrian routes between buildings and the staff car park lighting to comply with WHS requirements and improve energy performance. This is a multistage project that will continue over several years and works will be prioritised to suit operational requirements.
  • Installation activities were completed for the fire services upgrade project to address the deteriorating condition and obsolescence of existing fire safety systems within key buildings on the property. The project includes fire indicator panels, fire hose reels, cabling, detectors and audible warning systems.
  • Restoration of an onsite cottage was undertaken including replacing the roof and insulation, installation of new carpet, new HVAC and new eaves lining.
  • Installation of security, directional and way finding signage was completed at Government House.
  • Floor restoration and painting was completed to the Drawing Room of the Main House.
  • Ergonomic workstations and furniture were procured and installed in the Case Officer’s open office area and breakout areas in the Honours Building.
  • Minor projects were delivered, including: general heritage fabric refurbishment works, end-of-life asset and equipment replacement, general carpentry works, and replacement of general infrastructure assets such as hydraulic, electrical, and communication systems.
  • Landscape works continued in accordance with the Landscape Management Plan for the property.

ADMIRALTY HOUSE

The major works projects undertaken at Admiralty House during 2019–20 included:

  • Construction commenced for the re-stabilisation of the Kirribilli Point Battery Precinct. This project aims to protect the heritage listed Marine Barracks from damage being caused by the surrounding structures and environment.
  • Construction works were completed for the rectification and heritage conservation of the Gatehouse building occupied by the Australian Federal Police (AFP). This project restored deteriorated internal and external heritage fabric and replaced aging building services such as HVAC systems.
  • Restorative works of the southern sea wall were completed.
  • Dehumidifiers were successfully installed below the Dining Room, Drawing Room and Study to improve air quality in these areas.
  • Minor projects were delivered, including: general heritage fabric refurbishment works, end-of-life asset and equipment replacement, general carpentry works, and replacement of general infrastructure assets such as hydraulic, electrical, and communication systems.
  • Works to improve the gardens and landscape at Admiralty House were carried out in accordance with the works schedule and Landscape Management Plan.

WORKS OF ART AND OTHER ITEMS

The Office is grateful to the Australiana Fund, the National Gallery of Australia, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, the Australian War Memorial, and the Department of Parliamentary Services for the loan of paintings, sculptures, furniture, and other items for public display at Government House and Admiralty House. These ongoing working relationships ensure that important works representing Australia are on display for the 34,000 visitors to the properties each year. The Office has partnered with the Australiana Fund to develop a database to assist in the collection management of the art, objects and furniture at the properties. Work to enter the information into this database continues.

Some items are exchanged each year as part of an ongoing program to display a variety of Australian artworks and furniture. At 30 June 2020, paintings, pieces of furniture and art objects with a combined value of approximately $20 million were on loan to the Office.

Footnotes

  1. Of these organisations, the Governor-General is Patron of 149, Mrs Hurley is Patron of 28, with joint Patronage held for a further 37.