Speech - Royal Military College Duntroon Graduation Parade

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The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

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02 6277 7800

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27 June 2023

I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land, the Ngunnawal people, and pay my respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

As the Minister for Defence, I also pay my respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who have served our nation in the past and continue to do so today.

Representing the Leader of the Opposition, the Honourable Luke Howarth MP;

Chief of the Defence Force, General Campbell; 

Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Stuart;

Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Hammond;

Representing the Chief of Air Force, Air Commodore Durant;

Commandant of the Royal Military College, Brigadier Jason Groat,

And our honoured guests, the family and friends of the142nd graduating class of June 2023.

Today, you accept the mantle of leadership. And the heavy burden that comes from it. Tomorrow, and every day after, members of the Australian Army who are older than you, who have served longer than you, who are more experienced than you, and who bring to bear their own skills and wisdom will despite this look to you for decision and guidance. At its most granular level yours is an astounding undertaking. And it is even more so given that your training and your practice is to lead in combat. With a confidence that is placed in you by those who you lead, it’s not about adjusting an interest or improving a circumstance, it is about placing in your hands, their very lives.

This is a responsibility which in every measure of the word is awesome. 

And in this moment, you will have doubt. You will, in the most human way, wonder why it is you who has been called to make the decision. But in this moment you will also heed the words of Marianne Williamson: 

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

You are here because you've decided that you are powerful beyond all measure. Provided your leadership is sincere, that it is grounded in your training that you have received, and that you remember that leadership is never about the glory of the leader, but it is only ever about the welfare of those who are led - you will be remarkable. Because your decision to stand on this parade ground is the life force behind the defence of your nation. And the leadership which is bestowed upon you today is at the very heart of this. 

Today, you receive your commission at a time when Australia is facing the most complex and threatening strategic circumstances that we've had since the end of the Second World War. Despite ourselves, history chooses us. Yours is a service that will matter. Your lives will make a difference. And your leadership will underpin our country. 

So I thank you for the decision that you have made to be here today. And it is an honour to stand before you. And as the generations before called you to bring forward their torch, do so with the confidence and the pride that comes from being an Officer of the Australian Army.


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