Australia Day National Flag Raising and Citizenship Ceremony

Speech
26 Jan 2021
Commonwealth Park, ACT
Prime Minister
E&OE

Prime Minister: Well thank you very much Your Excellency the Governor General and Mrs Hurley. To the Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese who joins us here today, good to see you. To Danielle Roche the Chair of the National Australia Day Council, Karlie Brand the CEO. My Ministerial colleagues, Minister Colbeck and Assistant Minister Morton. To our Australians of the year, to Grace, to Isobel, to of course Rosemary and Miriam-Rose, you express Australia like none I can imagine and I am so proud of you being here with us today.

But to Australians all, one and free. I start today by acknowledging the Ngunnawal people and I thank you for the welcome to country today.

I pay my respects and of all Australians to elders past present and emerging for the future.

And I acknowledge all those who have served and are serving today, our nation, in our defence forces and to say to you thank you for you service.

As Australians, our fates have always been bound together.

During this past year, we have been reminded once again of our shared fortunes. How much we indeed depend on each other.

In a year where much of the world has struggled under the strain of the global pandemic, Australians, together, have prevailed, in our own Australian way.

Australians patiently doing the right thing.

Health workers collecting samples and tracing the virus; nurses, aged and disability care workers tending to our elderly and to our vulnerable; the medical teams, our defence forces, the police running our quarantine facilities; the farmers, and the truck drivers, the wholesale and the retail workers keeping our supermarket shelves stocked and all those even now working to produce our vaccine.

And, of course, the many business owners of Australia, small and large, struggling with the uncertainty of a pandemic, keeping their show together and Australians in work.

On this Australia Day, we say thank you to the many who have once again pulled Australia through.

But you know, this is not a new experience for our country.

From whatever our beginnings or our circumstances, Australians have always demonstrated our ability to overcome. To rise above. To better our history. To create our future.

Today, on Australia Day we reflect on that journey, the price that has been paid for our freedom, the lessons of our history and the privilege of being able to call ourselves Australians.

We do it on this day when the course of this land changed forever. 

There is no escaping or cancelling this fact. For better and worse, it was the moment where the journey to our modern Australia began.

And it is this continuing Australian journey that we recognise today.

Our stories since that day have been of sorrow and of joy. Of loss and redemption. Of failure and success.

We are now a nation of more than 25 million stories, all important, all unique and all to be respected.

Whether it is the story of our first nation peoples’ strong, ancient and proud culture and their survival in the face of dispossession and colonisation.

Or the forsaken souls who came as convicts, not to start a new world, but because they had been banished from the old one. Condemned and outcast by empire, they too overcame.

The settlers and waves of immigrants who have followed seeking a better life for themselves and their families, creating a nation in the process, including the 12,000 people from over 130 nations who become citizens today.

These stories do not compete with each other, they simply coexist. They weave together to create Australia.

Today we reflect on how far we have come, but importantly we humbly acknowledge the work still ahead of us.

We have risen above our brutal beginnings.

We have overcome, survived and thrived.

We have learned but yet we are still learning.

And as the many peoples of the world joined our journey, we have become even stronger, 

The most successful and cohesive immigration and multicultural nation on earth. 

The home of the world’s oldest living human culture.

A modern, prosperous and generous nation. Fair minded, hard working. 

A standard bearer for liberal democracy, in a world where authoritarianism is once again seeking to push itself forward.

An honest nation that continues to confront the truth of our past and to reconcile this with our future.

Much to appreciate and to be thankful for.

And this year we will face many more challenges.

But it is Australian to be optimistic and look forward.

It is a choice we make to believe in hope.

Our optimism has always enabled us to push past the adversities we have faced and overcome.

We have been made extraordinary gains, these extraordinary gains by the extraordinary contributions of ordinary Australians.

In 2021 we will be relying once again on all Australians to be at their best.

To once again exercise their responsibility and make their own unique contributions to our success.

In our families, in our communities, in our places of work, and education and of worship and in our environment, caring for country.

The exercise of these responsibilities and contributions are the ones that will continue to make for a successful and resilient Australia.

We do this, because in Australia we believe in the unique value of each Australian as individuals, rather than seeing or indeed allowing ourselves to be defined solely through the identity prism of our age, or our race, or our gender, our ethnicity or our religion.

As Australians we are more than any and all of these things, and together we share and steward our Australian inheritance.

As Australians we write our own story. We create our own future. And we will do so again this year, together. 

Happy Australia Day.

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