Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
23 Apr 2013
Tim Fischer and the then Pope Benedict in 2011 before signing off as Australia's Ambassador to the Holy See in 2011
On the eve of  ANZAC day and the 98th anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli, former Ambassador to the Holy See and a former deputy prime minister, Tim Fischer told graduating students from the Australia Catholic University (ACU) that the nation's diggers were so seared by their experience both at Gallipoli and throughout the Great War that they went on to over-achieve.
Awarded a Honorary Doctorate, the highest award given by the university in recognition of his many achievements as an ambassador, politician, former leader of the National Party, author, broadcaster, farmer and for his ongoing contributions and dedication to public service, Mr Fischer used his address at today's graduation ceremony at the Darling Harbour Convention Centre to talk about core leadership and using the men of Gallipoli as both an example and an inspiration.
"Good better best, never let it rest, till your good is better and your better best," Mr Fischer said, quoting the iconic exhortation printed on the rear of each Furphy water cart used by the diggers at Gallipoli as well as by Australia's soldiers fighting in the Middle East, the Western Front and in France. "This is the language of 100 years ago to extol the pursuit of excellence and to strive to learn more," he said, agreeing that it might seem a little trite and light to today's young people and was not ACU's carefully constructed Latin phrase: Susum Corda meaning "Lift up your hearts."
Former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer uses example of Gallipoli veterans to inspire ACU graduates
The messages may be expressed differently but their essential meaning was the same, he told the students, describing Gallipoli as a "great starting point for an examination of core leadership."
At this time each year, Australia and New Zealand salute the fallen. "But we should also from time to time dwell on the survivors of Gallipoli," he urged and named some of Australia's outstanding leaders who had been forged amidst the canon and gunfire of Gallipoli's beaches and other battles throughout the Great War.
Qantas co-founder, Hudson Fysh; aviation pioneers Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, Sir Ross McPherson Smith, Sir George Jones and Charles Ulm were all Gallipoli veterans who went on to provide real leadership in developing aviation, he said. Lord Richard Casey, the last Governor of Bengal and Governor General of Australia was a Lieutenant at Gallipoli while Able Seaman Norman Gilroy who was at station on a ship off ANZAC Cove at Gallipoli in 1915, would go on to become Bishop of Port Pirie and later Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney.
"There are many more of interest," he said and reeled off names including those of military leaders at Gallipoli such as Sir Harry Chauvel, Sir Thomas Blamey, the great Sir John Monash and Leslie Morshead.
Mr Fischer then told students to flick forward and examine some modern leadership dimensions.
The example he chose in this instance was the oldest organisation in the world bar none, the Holy See, the Vatican headquarters of the nation city state and the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church in the 21st Century. Core leadership.
Tim Fischer during his years as Ambassador to the Holy See
"It is not for an ex-junior Ambassador to lay down the law and anyhow, Pope Francis is off to a flying start in this regard, recently appointing a powerful kind of Cardinal Cabinet of just eight which includes Cardinal Pell and Caritas' Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiago," he said.
Mr Fischer not only welcomed the diverse composition and creation of this Cabinet of Cardinals of Advice, but said leadership at all levels in Rome remained vital to ensure the Church was not overwhelmed by the forces of secularism or certain evil forces of extremism both from within Christianity and from other faiths.
"It was a masterstroke of pure core leadership when so-called conservative Pope Benedict XVI took the step he had long foreshadowed - for those of us who listened - and resigned in accord with precedent and Canon Law."
Gallipoli veteran Lord Casey went on to become Governor General of Australia
Pope Benedict XVI recognised that although doctors could keep him living for a long period yet, there was a big difference between staying alive in your ninth decade and being fit and well enough at this age to be able to lead the huge organisation of the Roman Catholic Church, he explained.
"Pope Francis has quickly laid down some markers, the objective of a poor church looking after the poor and dealing once and for all in clear cut terms with the world-wide issue of clergy sex abuse. He is also examining the Vatican Bank, studying key internal reports and the very structure of the Curia and the modus operandi of the Curia in the second decade of the 21st Century."
Mr Fischer said it was vital the Roman Catholic Church be driven by a headquarters that sees the Church as a true Universal Church and not a Universal Italian Church, and believed this was due not only to the dominant number of cardinals from Europe but by what he called "Italianate Geographic" nepotism which had become deeply entrenched at all levels from just below the level of the Pope to the doorkeeper at No 5 Via della Conciliazioni where many offices of the Curia are located.
My thoughts and prayers are with Pope Francis as he sets out with his Pontificate as the first from the Southern Hemisphere, the first Argentinian and the first Jesuit Holy Father," he said then posed his own question of the graduating students crowded into the Darling Harbour Convention Centre.
Abel Seaman Norman Gilroy was at Gallipoli and later became Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney
"The core leadership of the graduates from Gallipoli who survived World War 1 contributed much to the fabric of Australia. What then are you going to contribute and how might you go about it?" he asked and then to spur them on, quoted the advice of his own father who repeatedly told him "if a job is worth doing, it's worth doing well."
On accepting his honorary Doctorate, the always modest Mr Fischer thanked the University, ACU Chancellor,  General Peter Cosgrove and Vice Chancellor Professor Greg Craven for what he described as "the huge honour conferred on me."
"But I also congratulate all graduates this day here in Sydney, and say: well done!"
In extending his congratulations he also said that it was now that the expanded life and big leadership requirements would be descend on them and that their graduation was not so much an ending of a phase but the commencement of a whole new phase of their lives.

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