Outgoing CAF - Air Marshal Leo Davies, AO, CSC

11 September 2019

Transcript (produced by iSentia)

Minister, Shadow Minister, CDF, Associate Secretary, Defence colleagues and families. I'm not really good with goodbyes because that tends to be a bit sad. So I thought I might be positive and use a series of thank yous to tell a bit of a story.

First thank you is to Air Force because you took a bit of a gamble on a dairy farmer's son from Northern Victoria. I just wanted to fly; I had a dream. Thank you to my instructors, my course mates - long courses, short ones, days, sometimes whole years.

To my mentors across three phases of my career, you challenged me but you laid a foundation. You know it's okay to have fun while you accomplish.

To the flight commanders, to the XOs, the COs, OCs, the air commanders and the chiefs over the years; many different characters, many different approaches to business, that's true. But thank you because you all taught me how to lead.

To the airmen, the air women, the senior NCOs and warrant officers: you taught me a sense of humility because you are bloody good. You taught me the value of teamwork, and that came directly from you. Thank you, because you taught me the need for leadership.

To the SLG, and particularly the senior leadership team of Air Force, thank you. You showed me the significance and the gravity of being held accountable as a leader.

Thank you to Maco(*), Gab, and Swannie(*): you got the business of Air Force done. It evolved and evolved through your leadership.

To the Purple Six - or it was, then was seven, now it's eight - and the Deputy Secretaries: thank you, because even though we debated strongly, we sought to improve our groups and services' contribution to the overall Defence Department. But we were never unprofessional to each other. And as an example, I could ask Mike or Rick to represent Air Force - excuse me - if I was not there, and I'd feel comfortable about that. I think that is special. So thank you for the joint leadership.

To the Secretaries and the CDFs, for the insight with clarity when I thought there was none, thank you for my chance to lead and for not micromanaging.

To the Ministers and the Senators, thank you for the guidance and the resources. You've enabled us to grow a world-class fifth generation Air Force. And also, thanks for estimates.

To team Okay(*), the staff officers, executive assistants, ADCs, personal assistants, events co-ords, chefs, and even Kath, our cleaner; four generations, all brilliant, all individual. Thank you for all enhancing our Air Force reputation.

Thank you to Rhonda and Jacob for giving me a safe place to launch from every day and to come home to every night. You are my emotional bank, my contract for stability. And I know they did not come cheap. Stephen Covey wrote about relationships in Seven Habits. Well, I've only been making withdrawals, but that changes today. And Jake, I'll even [indistinct] for you.

I did not expect or set out to be Cav(*). I thought Wing Commander would be awesome, and a Tactical Command a bit of a stretch. People got me here. Our air men, our air women, public service officers and industry partners shape me and they shape us every day. My greatest satisfaction was reviewing graduation parades, see the excitement, the ideas, and the faces of our young folk. I see it and hear it every time Swannie and I go to an Air Force unit or Squadron. I learned that this generation - that's you, folks - you're really good. And I learned that this generation should be given just a little bit more space. I feel a genuine respect for your values no matter how you label them; for your future focus and your risk model, because it's got agility built in; your collegiate approach where diversity is accepted without question; and for your growing appreciation of the part that Australia can play in our region and in the world.

Air Force has been tremendously successful on operations, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and crisis response, including many long-range search and rescues. On exercise, we've been leaders in innovation and agility. As joint partners, we've been reliable and adaptive. I already know Air Marshall Hupfeld has a strong vision to take Air Force to the next level, to the next phase. He has earned the right to lead the Royal Australian Air Force.

Congratulations, Mel.

I reckon we're as good as a 14,433 plus 625-person team of uniform and APS RAAFies can be. Yes, I said RAAFies, because if you spend just a little bit of time with us, some of the blue just rubs off. So take a bow, all those who feel like they wear blue. Rhonda, Jacob, and I leave nothing left undone. No regrets, no if onlys. But we do leave with a strong sense of excitement for your future. As an airman, it's been a privilege to lead you.