Photo: AAP Image/David Mariuz
PRIME MINISTER: Well thank you very much. It’s a great pleasure and it’s an honour and it’s a privilege to be here with you, the serving men and women of Australia’s Defence Forces. Last night, a few of you had a meal with me. We had a curry. I love curries. One of the reason I love curries - there is a point to this story, I promise - is how you put it all together. You start with your oil, so last night it was a Sri Lankan chicken curry, how good is that by the way. Start with the oils, you put your curry leaves in there, get your spices in there, your whole base. It infuses the oil, you put your onions in, it’s layer on layer. You may have marinated the chicken with coconut cream. It comes out like magic. How you blend it together, all of these different ingredients, to produce something which is pretty magnificent, is how I have experienced seeing what you do here. Whether it is here, or over in Taji, it’s the time I’ve had to spend. I can’t tell you how impressed I am about how all the different specialist units, components, skills and backgrounds, are blended together to make an amazing team. I think that’s the real impressive thing about our Defence Forces and our partners and those we work with see.
There is a humility to the way you do your business. But there is an incredible professionalism, a great pride in what you do, and a tremendous commitment. I came here because I just wanted to do something quite simple - I just wanted to say thank you. I want to say thank you for your service. I wanted to say that as a fellow Australia, as a dad of two young girls living in suburban Sydney. I wanted to do it as the Prime Minister and the leader of the Government who has made decisions which is why you are here. I wanted to do it as a Member of Parliament which I have been for more than a decade and I just had the very sobering experience of signing the book alongside those who have fallen in this theatre over the many years we’ve been here. So I wanted to say thank you. I wanted to say thank you because there are many things that make me proud of Australia. Going along to a school presentation, you see families and kids doing well, holding up their certificates and they’re full of optimism and pride. That makes me proud. It makes me proud that we’re a country that can make some of the most life-saving and difficult to fund and afford drugs for everyday Australians. That makes me proud, that we can do that as a country. It makes me proud when we beat the Indians in cricket.
But I’ll tell you what really makes me proud - looking at you. Looking at what you do and the professionalism with which you do it. The way you look after each other as mates, which has been part of the fabric and the values and the code of our Defence Forces since Australians first put on a uniform and fought together and worked together. I’m incredibly proud, our nation is incredibly proud of what you do. Please never forget that. I know you are. I know you know what you do and you commit to what you do. That’s why you’re here and that’s why you won’t be with your families this Christmas. And for some of you it’ll be the first time you’ve been away from your families on active service. For many, you’ve done it heaps of times, and you’ve got your own traditions, as I said to colleagues yesterday. Where you still make it a special day for your kids, your wives and husband, parents and family. You make that connection. And you’ll make it special here today, as I hear last night about some of the things you’ve got planned and I think that’s tremendous.
But understand Australians are proud. Understand that Australians are thankful for the sacrifices that you make. Understand that Australians are enormously proud of our men and women who wear our uniform. You wear it in our name, you wear it under our flag, and you do it to honour and to serve the values that has made Australia the greatest country on earth in which to live and raise a family.
So with all of that, I wish those of you who have just begun your tours - which is many of you I know - I wish you all the best. Stay safe, look after each other. Do the job, which I know you will. And when you return home to Australia, you will be able to remember the time that you’ve been here. Know that you’ve helped change a country. Know that you’ve done something positive for the future. Know that the reason you decided, all of those years ago, “Yeah, I’m going to join the ADF. That’s what I’m going to do.” That your time here was further proof that that was a very, very good decision on your behalf. And one for which I, and your country, truly thanks you. Merry Christmas, have a great new year, and up up Australia.