JANUARY 26, 2007.
Australia Day breakfast at Beaconsfield.
We here today are all Australians.
Nobody who lives in Australia—in this ancient and beautiful land, with its unique colour of light and air—can fail to be an Australian.
Being an Australian has nothing to do with politics, procedures or bureaucratic tests. It is about this place. This place that nobody who lives here for any time can fail to love and be a part of.
We Australians are confident in our sense of place…. in our sense of a place we love and care for.
We live here in unity with our common love for this place. With our common love for each other and our dependence on each other.
That is what a community is…. an Australian community.
If you need to see proof of that sense of Australian community, you need to go back in time no further than Anzac Day last year here at Beaconsfield.
Our common sense of being Australian manifests itself when individuals…part of our Australian community…are threatened…. as some were, far underground, here.
The local and a far wider community worked together. Our combined hearts and minds supported the rescue efforts. Our thoughts were with those members of the Australian community who were under threat.
The same thing happened on Tasmania’s East Coast last month. Members of our community at Scamander, Four Mile Creek, Bicheno, St Marys and
further south at Kellevie were not alone.
Apart from those who were helping them physically, there was a wider Australian community who had them in their thoughts.
In times of hardship and emergency, Australians stick together.
No one is an island in this community. The bell tolls for us all.
We should consider this sense of community on this Australia Day.
Above all, we should dwell thoughtfully on our relationship with our land and all who live in it.
All who live in it. Those who have come here recently… those from long ago. Humans, animals, flora and fauna. We are all part of Australia.
That is one aspect of being Australians.
There are others. We must never forget the historical milestones which have made marks upon us.
Some of them have become rites of passage for our young people….Gallipoli is one of them… where Australians stuck together and helped each other in defeat.
Last year in Vietnam I visited the site of the battle of Long Tan.
Another place where Australians united against terrible adversity.
Long Tan too is a place of rite of passage for young Australians… trying to understand the things, the events, that have formed us.
We must understand, acknowledge, and come to terms with what has happened in the past.
That is why the move by the Tasmanian Government last year to acknowledge and try to make amends for an injustice against one section of our community is so important.
I speak of the Government’s move to give compensation to Tasmanian aboriginal people as a symbolic gesture acknowledging the unjust separation of families. I am proud to say that move was unanimously approved by the Upper House of our State Parliament.
Acknowledging past mistakes helps us not to repeat them.
But Australia Day is not just about recognition of the past….or acknowledging the great privilege of living in this beautiful land.
It is a day for joy and celebration.
Let’s celebrate and give thanks for what we have, where we live and the inclusive community which we can continue to build as Australians.
But at the same time, let us not be complacent… there’s work to be done to improve our community and our togetherness.
In this respect, governments often let us down.
It’s up to all of us Australians to take the initiatives to correct injustices, to eliminate discrimination, to hold Australian governments to account.
Let us Australians stick together in this year of 2007 to preserve our country…. cope with its sometimes harsh climate…. and strengthen our communities.
Let the rest of the world look upon us with envy…not for what we have but for what we have accomplished with unity, ingenuity and strength of purpose.
Like you on an Australia Day like this, I’m glad I’m here and not anywhere else in the world.