Governor’s Prayer Breakfast 2007 – Keynote Address
Friday 27 July 2007
by His Excellency Dr Ken Michael AC
Governor of Western Australia
Mr Trevor Stiles, Chairman of the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast, and Mrs Sherryl Stiles
Guest Speaker, Mr Bob Edmiston, and Mrs Tracie Edmiston
Hon Barbara Scott, MLC, Member for the South Metropolitan, representing the Leader of the Opposition
Ladies and Gentlemen
Julie and I are very pleased to be here with you all again this year for the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast which has established itself as an important annual event on the Christian calendar in Western Australia.
As your Patron, I would firstly like to congratulate the committee for its work in organising this breakfast so well again this year.
I am certain everybody will agree that it is a wonderful forum to share time together while emphasising our commitment to fellowship and unity among us all in our community. It helps us to reaffirm our commitment to God, while reinforcing that those things we face as challenges within our family, community and working lives are made easier to negotiate through the love of God and living by our values of faith.
Much of this centres on a commitment to ethical behaviour that involves respect for others and living our lives with values that do not harm others.
In respect of faith, the internationally renowned writer and social commentator, John Ralston Saul, notes that1:
“the maintenance of faith in any system requires an enormous and constant individual effort”.
And I would go further by adding that what is needed – even more so in today’s challenging world – is an enormous and constant individual effort involving “ethical” considerations in all aspects of life’s dealings.
Ethics – from the Ancient Greek “ethikos” meaning “arising from habit” – is a major branch of philosophy in the study of value or quality. It covers the analysis and employment of concepts such as right, wrong, good, evil, justice and responsibility.
In his book “Right and Wrong” Hugh Mackay writes2:
“Ethics is not a business tool. We behave ethically in business for the same reasons we behave ethically in any other aspect of our lives; because we believe in the idea of doing the right thing rather than the wrong thing; because we aspire to live in harmony with certain virtues we hold to be important and worthy of our respect; because we know that a community – including a commercial community – cannot function fairly and justly unless we are prepared to respect each other’s rights, needs and well being.”
As well, and as a natural progression, those individual efforts need also to be extended into ethical community effort and action.
I think that those sentiments fit neatly with the vision statement for the breakfast which says that the breakfast is to:
“bring together community leaders in fellowship and unity to acknowledge God’s values and call on his name – that God may hear us and heal our land”.
I believe part of leading ethical and considerate lives involves the commitment to do what we call “good” work within our communities, offering our support and comfort to those people who need it, for whatever reason.
I believe that the ability “to do good” is something that also contributes to our overall happiness because the gift of kindness and service to our fellow human beings brings with it a sense of belonging and satisfaction that we can make a difference.
Underlying these very thoughts is the respect we hold for ourselves, for others and for our communities. Such respect fosters an understanding and tolerance of the predicament of others and encourages us “to do good” and witness and enjoy the pleasure and satisfaction that brings to others, while bringing self enlightenment and satisfaction to those “doing good”.
Ethical behaviour embraces many of these aspects for, as Hugh Mackay notes that we:
“cannot function fairly and justly unless we are prepared to respect each other’s rights, needs and well being.”
There is something very simple yet very significant in living the values you believe in. I often cite “integrity, respect and trust” as values which fundamentally drive what I may do, why I may do it and how I may do it. Those values and my faith help me to address issues to achieve the most appropriate outcome, be they of a family or business nature. They are my guiding strength.
Without a core set of personal values and beliefs, I find it difficult to make wholesome decisions which would have a long-standing and effective influence. Short-sighted decisions may solve the immediate problem at hand, but inevitably it reappears in another form. A sense of purpose, clear objectives, skilled people, effective teamwork through strong relationships, effective communication measures, strong values in an ethical environment are all elements that have helped me to focus on the task at hand in an appropriate manner.
This morning’s breakfast, I think, is a time to reflect on our personal values and social responsibilities as we consider how we can contribute to a better living environment for us all – how we can make a difference.
Such responsibilities in an ever-changing world with its associated global impacts need our individual and collective efforts – supported by shared values – to make this difference with successful and meaningful outcomes. We all need to take individual and collective responsibilities if we are to overcome the significant issues that confront us.
Each year we invite a national or international leader to make an address and this year it is our privilege to have international businessman Mr Bob Edmiston as our guest speaker. I had the pleasure of meeting with Bob and his wife Tracie yesterday. He has quite a story to tell. Julie and I, along with all of you, extend a warm welcome to them both and look forward to what Bob has to say.
In addition to the formalities and the important prayers – which, of course, are our main focus this morning – the breakfast is also a time to catch up with old friends and make new ones, as well as an opportunity to draw nearer to God and reflect on our contributions to our faith and humanity.
Thank you all for attending this breakfast this morning. I wish you a very enjoyable occasion and I sincerely hope that this event will continue to be a popular feature of our community in the coming years.
1. John Ralston Saul: The Doubter’s Companion. Penguin Group (Australia).
2. Hugh Mackay: Right and Wrong, Hodder Headline Australia Pty Ltd.