Remarks at UNSW’s Australia Day Honours Celebration

Thank you and welcome all.

I would first like to acknowledge the Bedegal people who are the Traditional Custodians of this land, to pay my respects to the Elders both past and present and extend that respect to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who are present here today.

We’re pleased to have with us this afternoon our Australian of the Year, Michelle Simmons, and our Companions of the Order of Australia, Professor Maree Teeson and Professor Trevor McDougall, and Medal of the Order of Australia recipient, Dr David Hunt.

But to all UNSW Australia Day honourees I offer the heartiest congratulations on behalf of the UNSW community.

We had almost 90 current staff or alumni honoured this past Australia Day. It is testament to the excellence of the education received and the work done at our university, and to our growing, positive impact.

To have one of our own named Australian of the Year was a moment of great pride. But Michelle would say that any accolades she receives are only possible because of the work of her current team – and of those who went before them in UNSW quantum computing.

But one thing Michelle should take credit for is being a wonderful leader. She leads with enormous courage, intellect, determination and commitment to equity.

Above all, she leads with passion for the task – and, in fact, for everything she does. Whether as a leader, a colleague, a mentor or a mother, or – as her team will attest – as an organiser of basketball games.

I hear that on Fridays, Michelle ‘strongly encourages’ everyone to take out their frustrations about non-compliant sub-atomic particles on the court. Passion, generosity of partnership, and the desire to serve a higher cause are all represented in those we celebrate today.

Once again, I congratulate all our honourees.

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