Honourary Doctorate for Sir Angus Houston

15 December 2016

The higher you go, the further you go, the more collaborative your leadership will become.

The ANU has honoured former Chief of the Australian Defence Force and Air Force Sir Angus Houston for his lifetime of public service, distinguished leadership and contribution to Australia and the Region.

Sir Angus, a Visiting Fellow and longstanding supporter of the ANU National Security College, was awarded an honorary degree at the end of year graduation ceremonies at ANU on Thursday.

ANU Chancellor Professor the Hon Gareth Evans AC QC said Sir Angus was a great Australian who had made a significance difference to Australia and the region.

"Sir Angus is a great Australian who led the military with great distinction, and who has continued to serve Australia since his retirement as ADF Commander in 2011," Professor Evans said.

"He is a leader with great humility and compassion, as he demonstrated with his support for the families of those who died in the Malaysian Airlines disasters of 2014."

Sir Angus said he was humbled by the ANU Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, and he used his speech to new graduates to focus on the need for good leadership.

"Thank you for the honour you have bestowed on me. I'm very humbled," Sir Angus said.

"You now have great skills - skills you will use in your own communities, in business, in government and research," he told the graduates.

"Much will be expected of you as leaders in the fields you are so skilled in."

"The higher you go, the further you go, the more collaborative your leadership will become."

Sir Angus' early service in the RAAF was marked by the award of an Air Force Cross in 1979 for an open-sea rescue in New South Wales in gale winds.

His leadership was recognised in 1990 with his admission as a Member of the Order of Australia for the introduction and transfer of Blackhawk helicopter capabilities from the RAAF to the Australian Army.

He served on the Joint Operations staff at Australian Defence Headquarters during the Persian Gulf war of 1990-91, and was appointed Chief of Airforce in 2001.

He served as Chief of the Defence Force from 2005-2011.

In 2003 Sir Angus was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia, and in 2008 he was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia.

Since leaving the military, Sir Angus has served as chair of the ANZAC Centenary Advisory Committee, Chairman of Airservices Australia, Chair of the Gillard Government's review of asylum seeker policies, Chair of the South Australia Defence Board and Special Envoy for South Australia.

He was made a Knight of the Order of Australia in 2015 in recognition of his exceptional leadership and compassion in supporting the families of those killed in the Malaysian Airlines flights MH370 and MH17, which was shot down over Ukraine. Sir Angus also managed the international search for MH370.

Sir Angus is also chair of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra.