Dame Marie Bashir – the 37th Governor of NSW since Arthur Phillip in 1788 – will go down in the history books as the first female governor and NSW’s second-longest serving governor, committing 13 and a half years of her life to Australia’s oldest constitutional office.
Her genuine, interactive approach to her position brought fresh relevance to an ageing institution.
Following a career as a general practitioner, psychiatrist, university fellow, Chancellor of the University of Sydney and governor of NSW, you wouldn’t blame the 83-year-old if she said she was looking forward to settling into retirement.
But Bashir, who yesterday stepped down from her post as the Governor of NSW, said she will now commit her time advocating for various social issues which she tended to during her time as governor, including Indigenous affairs, education, mental health and equality for all.
Bashir’s life work has seen her appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia, a Companion of the Order of Australia, a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, she has received the Centenary Medal, and during the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours, Bashir was made a Dame of the Order of Australia.
In honour of her great influence on the state, here are seven quotes that showcase what an exceptional woman Dame Marie Bashir is.
Australia’s great problem is not water. We can do a lot to get more water from the north... we could desalinate... our biggest challenge is to ensure that the young people of our country are equipped, healthy and happy to go on and run this country with the great destiny facing it as a force for good in the Asia‐Pacific region.
- In a speech to The Black Dog Institute ahead of the book launch of ‘Navigating Teenage Depression: A guide for parents and professionals.
Research indicates that one of the driving forces of Australian prosperity over the last few decades has been the huge improvement in the educational attainment of young Australians, particulary young women. And a considerable consideration in this regard has derived from the public education system. This model must never be diminished...
- In a speech at the 2nd National Public Education Forum, March 27, 2010.
This is a time, I believe, of incredible growth for Australia and it’s important to make sure no one gets left behind and that all young people are given the opportunity to fulfil their potential – it’s very important for this nation.
- In an interview with Kira Spucys-Tahar on the eve of her retirement as Chancellor of the University of Sydney.
It is an appalling paradox that despite being frequently reminded of Australia's robust economy and the affluence of so many Australians, the number of our people who live in poverty and hardship - estimated to be around 1 million - are so often hidden and forgotten.
- In a speech at Anti-Poverty Week in 2004.
For a state and a people to prosper into the longer term, I believe that there needs to be a climate of reciprocity, involving the ordinary citizens as well as the powerful. Such a society rejects, as its highest aim, materialism, but strives for the participation and contribution of all citizens in our commonwealth.
- In her inauguration speech, March 1, 2001.
During my period of service to the state as governor, there have been many inspirational occasions when one's heart and mind have surged with pride at the stability, the vision and the harmony of multicultural inclusiveness supported by government, working in harmony with the people.
- In her final address to Parliament, September 9, 2014.
There are a lot of patronages that I've been asked to continue with and to be quite honest, I have some concerns about the depression that some of our young veterans are bearing having fought overseas. I'd like very much to quietly get in there as someone who can listen to the stories and relieve the burden.
- In an interview with 702 ABC Sydney radio station, October 2, 2014.
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