Remarks at the Morning Tea with the Australian of the Year Finalists

Speech
25 Jan 2018
The Lodge, Canberra
Prime Minister

Thank you very much.

Yoonggu gulanyin ngalawiri, dhunayi, Ngoonawal dhowrrra.

Wanggarra lin jin yin marunn bulaan boogarabung.

We’re here gathered together on the land of the Ngunnawal people, and as Paula has just done, we acknowledge their country. We acknowledge all first Australians here and around the country, and we honour their elders, past and present and emerging.

So good morning. On behalf of Lucy and I welcome to The Lodge. It’s great to be here with you all, and I want to acknowledge Danni Roche, the Chair of the National Australia Day Council, the National Australia Day Council Board. Its Chief Executive, all gathered together here.

It’s really a great honour to host you all for this year’s remarkable Australian of the Year, State and Territory recipients.

Each of you embodies the best of the Australian spirit. Each of you have shown courage and resilience, selflessness and sacrifice.

Your achievements have been driven by great passion. For some of you they’ve also been driven by great pain, and you’ve turned that pain into great love for your fellow Australians. You’ve shared your experience so that others can be spared your heartache.

I want to thank you all for your courage. The diversity of your stories reflects the diversity of our nation. You come from every walk of life. We have first Australians here among our recipients and we have people who have come to Australia as migrants or indeed as refugees.

You cross the entire spectrum of endeavour; from sports education and science to the arts to business, community work and medicine.

What you all have in common is a commitment to changing Australians lives for the better. That is a love of country and a love of the people that make up this remarkable nation. The most successful multicultural society in the world.

United and harmonious in our extraordinary diversity, in a world which is racked by so much conflict, so much division, so much lack of respect and intolerance. But here in Australian we are united and it is because of that commitment that love of each other.

You’re all leading us to a brighter future, shining the way for us.

I want to thank our 2017 Australian of the Year, Professor Alan Mackay-Sim – where is Alan? There he is. Thank you, thank you so much. You, as Australian of the Year, that’s a great honour of course, but also a great responsibility. And you’ve travelled the country, you’ve visited classrooms and boardrooms to argue passionately and persuasively for the future of science and innovation.

And everything we do, everything my government does, everything our nation seeks to achieve is going to be informed by science. Science, innovation, constantly pushing the frontiers of seeking to do everything we can better. Whether it is in the realm of computing, or medicine, or JT whether it’s on the football field.

In every endeavour we’re pushing those boundaries to excel, and that of course is what makes us the dynamic, always young Australian nation that we are.

But we are of course both ancient and modern, this is the remarkable thing about our nation. We are 65,000 years old. Here in this country, our first Australians embody the oldest, longest, continuous human civilisation, and yet we are as new as the little baby in the arms of her migrant mother. Who will be getting a citizenship certificate tomorrow.

This is a remarkable country, remarkable people, and you are men and women with remarkable achievements.

So congratulations to all of you on what you’ve done so far, you’ve got so much more to do. I wish each of you the very best of luck tonight, and Lucy and I are so proud to host you here.

Many of you as you came in, I might note, those in the medical profession, Professor Mackay-Sim, note that Lucy and I were setting a good example standing in the shade, so being sun safe. But as we welcomed you in, so many of you said it’s an honour to be here, believe me the honour is ours.

Thank you for honouring us, and by your service of Australia, your love of Australia, your commitment to ensuring that your fellow Australians have even greater prospects, greater opportunities in the year ahead.

Thank you so much, happy Australia Day we look forward to talking with you further today, and of course as I said, the very best of luck tonight.

Thank you.

[ENDS]