Jeff was on hand, and Peter got to carry the mace, decked out in his fancy blue gown. The occasional address was by Dr Leeora Black on "corporate social responsibility". It sounded warmed over from the last academic conference and not too relevant to the occasion. Degrees were conferred by Mr David Gonski, the Chancellor of the University of New South Wales. The title of my thesis was read out, and he shook my hand and congratulated me warmly on a job well done.
This is rather special as the Chancellor has to come down from Sydney for the occasion but it was completely overshadowed by the presence of the Acting Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. Never before has an acting Prime Minister attended an ADFA graduation. (Or any Prime Minister, or for that matter, any Deputy Prime Minister.)
Ms Gillard told the cadets that they were about to begin a journey that would "take you to many places and confront you with many challenges."
"I know that we are going to ask you to do a lot. We are going to ask you to shoulder the weight of responsibility, we are going to ask you to tolerate long separations from your family, we are going to ask you on occasion to put yourself in harm's way."
"And I am sure that there are going to be times in the years to come that will seem like a lonely task, when the burden will become heavy, that the weight of responsibility that we keep putting on your shoulders, when the separation from family will feel too much to bear, when putting yourself in harms way is too daunting. When those challenges come, I ask you to remember the camaraderie of this place, the joyfulness of his day, and the fact that you have the support and best wishes of the Australian people with you."