We have outlived the shade of our own founding - Proclamation Day celebrations
TUE 28 DECEMBER 2010
Thank you very much for that welcome and can I start by acknowledging friends who have joined us here today including His Excellency the Governor of South Australia, my colleague and friend Premier Mike Rann, Dr Rollond the Mayor here, thank you very much for your insights into the history of this place and I know that is part of your special passion to understand the history of this place.
I've also very much like to acknowledge my Federal Parliamentary colleague, Steve Georganas who represents this area so well in the Federal Parliament. Can I also acknowledge the indigenous owners of the land on which we meet and in the spirit of reconciliation pay my respects to elders past and present. It is such an important part of our Australian past, our Australian present and our future that we are a nation that is the custodian of the oldest living culture on earth. I acknowledge it and I honour it.
As we meet here today in this very moderate temperature with a gentle breeze, with a beautiful blue sky, it's also time I think to remember Australians in other parts of our nation who are not dealing with such lovely climate conditions. I am of course particularly thinking of those in Queensland who are battling flood waters even as we meet here today. Over this Christmas season there have been many Australians who have had to battle the extremes of weather; floods on the one hand and extreme heat on the other. Of course when Australians battle natural disasters, when we battle our sometimes harsh climate, we do it by coming together and you will have seen on TV screens and heard on your radios how Australians have come together in these circumstances, working of course with their State Governments and the Federal Government is there ready to assist in any way which is necessary. But as governments play their part we know that when Australians have to battle flood and heat, it is community volunteers who bear the brunt of that work and I'm sure our thoughts and our very best wishes are with them today in other parts of Australia as we gather here in a beautiful Adelaide.
To South Australians gathered here today it's such a special privilege to be able to join you on Proclamation Day. For me Christmas of course is about coming to Adelaide, since I migrated here as a four year old every Christmas of my life has been spent in South Australia in Adelaide, it's a very special part of who I am and who my family is that we get to come together in South Australia each year no matter how far afield we may have been in the 12 months in between. And the Christmas season here in Adelaide not only offers that time with family and friends, but on Proclamation Day it offers an opportunity to reflect on the past and to think about the future.
That's why I believe it was so appropriate for Dr Rollond today to speak to us about the history of this place and particularly the history of the Thomas and Skipper families; their part in building this place, and I do acknowledge Dr John Skipper and his wife Betsy who are with us today, descendents of the Thomas and Skipper families. And when you reflect on the story of Robert and Mary Thomas, it is of course a perfectly South Australian story. Free settlers, who not only founded a life for themselves and their families here in this place, but free settlers who played a special part in building a new colony and a new nation, and if I can echo some of the words of the Governor is his Proclamation Day address today, it's hard to imagine in an age of instantaneous information what an important thing it was to have a printing press, to have a way no matter how slow, how cumbersome by today's standards, for a young colony to tell its stories to itself, for a young colony to record its news, its history. For a young colony to have a way of exchanging information, and we've heard today as part of the history of this place, about the development of one of the schools. Once again something so South Australian, putting such a focus on education, equity and the opportunity that education brings.
South Australians are of course hard working people, with a great faith in the future, great faith in education as the key for their kids and great faith in their ability as a people to work together in good times and in bad and we've shown time and time again as South Australians that we can do just that, look after each other in times good and times bad.
Of course on a day like today when we reflect on history, we tell perhaps one or two individual stories. But the history of this state is the combination of all of our stories and I know that many of you sitting here today are taking this moment to reflect on your story, on your family's story, to reflect on what it is about you that has brought us here today, brought us here together. Because of course history, at the end of the day, is made up by the mixture of the remarkable and the ordinary, that is everyday life and the writing of the history of the nation.
I'm proud that my family's story, my own story, is rooted in this place; just one of the many millions of stories that make up South Australia.
Today we rightly reflect on the struggles and achievements of Adelaide's founders. It is easy to recognise the distance between them and us and the difference between their times and ours. But I think what we share with those people is real. Most of all, I feel very deeply that we share their vision and imagination, their confidence and optimism. How much confidence and optimism would it have taken to build this city from this landscape?
When South Australia was proclaimed, under the old gum tree, they knew the best days were ahead of them, that they were just starting, and I believe that that is still true today. As remarkable as our history has been, the best days lie in front of us. The old tree, held up today with concrete, is of course a poignant sight, but it does make me very proud. I believe those who heard Governor Hindmarsh read the Proclamation here absolutely intended this new society to live longer than this historic tree.
So I do not see the old gum tree as a sign of our age. It tells me one thing and it tells me this: We have outlived the shade of our founding and yet we remain young. Lawson wrote of "the old dead tree" and "the young tree green". The old gum tree may have withered, but our state and our country is still young, still looking forward to the best days to come.
Hindmarsh proclaimed South Australia 174 years ago. My wish for 2011 is that each of us makes our own proclamation, makes our own proclamation that we will dedicate our best efforts for our State and country in the year ahead, confident in its future as we should be.
Thank you very much.