The Honourable Peter Garrett AM and ANU Chancellor, Professor the Honourable Gareth Evans AC QC. Photo by Lannon Harley.

The Honourable Peter Garrett AM and ANU Chancellor, Professor the Honourable Gareth Evans AC QC. Photo by Lannon Harley.

An agent of change

The great speech

Australian musician, environmental campaigner and former Cabinet Minister Peter Garrett AM was awarded an Honorary Doctorate earlier this year.

Here is the speech he delivered at the conferral ceremony.

Firstly, recognising the standing that attaches to an Honorary Degree, I want to place on record my sincere thanks to ANU and its University Council for bestowing on me what I appreciate is a very real 'honour' in the truest sense of the word.

I especially want to pay tribute to my wife Doris, who is here today, for her unstinting support, enduring my at times over-busy working life, for so many years.

I also want to recognise, among the many other groups and individuals I have worked with, my fellow ‘agents of change’, as the press release says, from Midnight Oil: Bones Hillman, Rob Hirst, Jim Moginie and Martin Rotsey. So much of the band's output over many decades reflects their combined songwriting and arranging talents. They have never wavered in supporting whatever campaign or project I was agitating for us to take on, nor, it should be said, been shy about suggesting a few of their own.

The first thought that came to mind when I was told of this honour was 'Am I deserving?’. The fact is I was far from an assiduous student, in particular when it came to my legal studies. Like many young people at the time, I was quickly swept up in the excitement of campus life in the early 70s, with the backwash of the heady 60s counter-culture 'revolution' surging across the campus.