Governor-General Quentin Bryce took part in her last Australia Day in that role amid speculation that Peter Cosgrove will take over the job.

With the announcement of her replacement pending, Quentin Bryce spoke of how moving it is to unite Australians with shared values as she took part in her last Australia Day as governor-general.

Mrs Bryce relinquishes the role in March after five-and-a-half years as the Queen’s representative, with former Defence chief Peter Cosgrove tipped to be named Australia’s 26th governor-general this week, possibly as early as Monday.

“There’s something very, very special about welcoming new members to our community and uniting all Australians to the values we share,” Mrs Bryce said after inspecting troops at a flag-raising and citizenship ceremony in Canberra.

“I’ve had the honour of attending many citizenship ceremonies and I find each one just as moving as the very first I attended.”

Mrs Bryce led an affirmation for current citizens after Prime Minister Tony Abbott welcomed 24 new citizens to the nation’s team.

She also helped cut a cake to mark the 65th anniversary of the Nationality and Citizenship Act, which created the status of Australian citizen.

General Cosgrove has long been the frontrunner to succeed Mrs Bryce in the role.

Gen Cosgrove led the Australian contingency in the 1999 East Timor peacekeeping mission, subsequently commanding the army and serving as defence force chief from 2002 to 2005.

He was Australian of the Year in 2001.

Since leaving the military he has worked as a non-executive director of Qantas, a Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu consultant and been the chairman of the South Australian Defence Industry Development Board and peak aged services industry body Leading Age Services Australia.

A Townsville suburb was named after him in 2008 in recognition of his work leading the rebuilding taskforce after Cyclone Larry devastated northern Queensland.

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd appointed Mrs Bryce governor-general in 2007. She was Australia’s first female governor-general.