The queen of England’s representative in Australia is the Governor General, the official head of Australia’s system of government. This week I was away on a school excursion to Canberra and Sydney and on Tuesday the ninth of September we were privileged to visit the opulent 54 hectare residence of his excellency, Sir Peter Cosgrove.
During our briefing, and before our tour of the house and grounds, we were surprised and delighted when Sir Peter walked into the living room and addressed our 85 students and 6 staff personally. It was one of those special and memorable moments in life when ordinary people intersect with the extra-ordinary leaders of our nation.
After returning to Queensland (named after Queen Victoria of England no less) I decided to do some research on Peter Cosgrove. Peter has had a very distinguished 40 year career in the Australian military. In fact he was an aide to the governor general himself as a young officer. After then winning the Military Cross in Vietnam, he rose through the ranks to become the head of the army and then the head of the Australian Defence Force. Peter led our intervention in East Timor and after retiring from the military he also led the restoration work after devastating cyclones hit parts of north Queensland. He was a very popular choice for Australian of the Year in 2001.
What I was surprised to find out about Peter was his strong Christian faith. He is a practicing Catholic who attended Christian Brothers College in Sydney and still today he attends mass whenever he can. He is the official ambassador for Catholic Education Week, and in launching that event recently he made the following statement
“People of faith should rejoice in a strong sense of community and nurture these attitudes wherever they find them,” he said.
“We should acknowledge that these values are not just ‘Australian’, they’re also Christian.
“Even those in our community who profess themselves to be without hope…. we know that they are God’s creatures and they’re part of our community.”
Peter was an extremely popular choice as Governor General and it is important that I acknowledge the Christian value system behind this great Australian. The secular media currently and correctly punishes Christians over the sins of past institutional abuse, but they would be doing us all a great service by also acknowledging the role Christianity plays in raising up great Australians like Peter Cosgrove.