Our first female Governor-General’s time in the position has come to an end. So, let us reflect on some of the highlights of Quentin Bryce’s time as Australia’s head of state.
1. When she visited Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia, as part of the first trip to Southern and Eastern Africa by an Australian head of state.
On her return, Bryce spoke at the 20th anniversary Annual Luncheon of the Jessie Street Trust at Parliament House in November 2009, saying:
My friends, it has been said that the face of poverty is a woman. What I have learned is that the face of the future leadership of Africa is also a woman. Jessie Street wrote in her autobiography: ‘All my experiences made me confident that women who have the chance to develop their abilities and self-confidence can make an indispensible and valuable contribution to building a better life for their whole society.’ – In Africa, this is profoundly true.
2. When she told Peter Hartcher “I’m always hungry at lunch time”, thus cementing herself as the Commonwealth executive’s answer to Jennifer Lawrence.
Seriously. In his 2010 profile of the Governor-General for Fairfax Media, Hartcher wrote:
Exclaiming that “I’m always hungry at lunchtime”, she nonetheless lets the food sit in its serving dishes, untouched, for an hour as we talk, sustaining herself with only a glass of white wine.
So, look, she didn’t necessarily follow through. But she said plenty of other interesting things in the profile, including that Australia has “a very long way to go” when it comes to promoting and protecting humans rights, and welcoming new migrants.
3. When she gave every Australian woman incredibly sound life advice.
For a very long time now, I’ve been saying to young women, you can have it all, but not all at the same time. How important it is to take very good care of yourself, of your mental and physical and spiritual wellbeing, it’s hard to do. It’s easier to be a workaholic than to have a truly balanced life. It’s very tough for a lot of women teetering on that tight rope of balance and balancing too many responsibilities. – At her 7:30 interview, September 2008.
4. When she became the only Australian dignitary to stay overnight with the troops in Afghanistan.
Image via Defence.gov.au
5. When she backed the Republic.
“Perhaps, my friends, one day, one young girl or boy may even grow up to be our nation’s first head of state.” – At Bryce’s final Boyer Lecture, November 2013.
6. Oh, and gay marriage.
“[Australia might become a country where] people are free to love and marry whom they choose.” – At Bryce’s final Boyer Lecture, November 2013.
Dame Quentin Bryce, thanks for being first.