Australia Day 2024 – Remarks

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Today we celebrate Australia.

The only continent nation on Earth.

A home to Indigenous peoples since before recorded history.

One of the oldest continuous democracies on earth.

The most successful multicultural and multi-faith country the world has ever seen.

A place of peace, prosperity and plenty.

In a world of division, this is a modern democracy founded on the words in our Constitution: “whereas the people agreed to unite”.

Noel Pearson has said we are a land of three strands.

The strands intertwine to make us culturally rich, strong and enduring.

The first strand is Australia’s Indigenous peoples and their connection to land and country. And on this day, I acknowledge their elders past, present and emerging.

I acknowledge our Dharug and Gu-Rimgai elders so many of whom have become my friends.

And the second great strand is our British Democratic inheritance – parliamentary democracy, the rule of law, the separation of powers, personal freedoms, property rights, the English language.

And the deep and abiding view that we are one people who work their differences at the ballot box.

The third great strand that we celebrate on this day, particularly as we welcome thousands of new citizens, is our multicultural character and destiny.

I often joke that I’m a Jewish man, educated by Anglicans who worked for Catholics, whose best friend is a Muslim, and who is regularly welcomed to the local Buddhist Temple.

Some have joked I am  hedging my bets in the afterlife.

But you know what I never hedge my bets on?

That’s Australia – and its ingenuity and its capacity to be a force for good.

Like any country, like any family, or community we aren’t perfect.

But a lack of perfection is made up by the good  heartedness of Australians.

Australians working to close the gap with Indigenous people.

Australians volunteering in communities like ours –  in school and community sports, men’s sheds, women refuges, scouts and guides, meals on wheels, landcare and environmental groups.

And Australians who serve – who put themselves at times in harm’s way for us – the ADF, RFS, St John, the Ambos, the Police – and as we found in the pandemic, our doctors and nurses too.

You have to search for our problems – but the good of Australia is often facing us straight in the eye. It’s hiding in plain sight.

The British philosopher Edmund Burke once wrote about what he called the little platoons – groups like churches, schools, and community groups that orientate us to what he called “public affections”.

Berowra is a community of the little platoons.

But those platoons arent identical like a parade of soldiers.

In Berowra – we have Hindu groups, Buddhist groups, Danish churches, Indigenous elders, historical groups, service clubs like Probus, Lions, Rotary and the CWA.

And as a local MP, who last year visited or met with students from 30 schools, I see a future which is so bright.

We are a country and a people that looks after each other.

I think back to October last year. It was the days after the terrible violent Hamas attacks on Israel.

And at my office, came an expected knock on the door. 

It was a lady named Susan. She and her friends at St Stephens Anglican Church wanted to bring me flowers to let me know what local Christian people were thinking of Jewish people.

How wonderfully Australian! And Christian too!

Today, we celebrate – because we have a country – that doesn’t live in fear of dictators and autocrats, that isn’t bitterly divided like other countries, that is prosperous and free.

We aren’t perfect – but we are always striving to be as good as we can be.

There is one word to describe what I feel about Australia and the future – and that’s hope.


I feel great hope today.

I’d like to conclude with a poem by the Indigenous Poet Oodgeroo.

It’s called a Song of Hope.

On this Australia Day, it says something about our wonderful journey as Australians.

“Look up, my people,
The dawn is breaking
The world is waking
To a bright new day
When none defame us
No restriction tame us
Nor colour shame us
Nor sneer dismay.

Now brood no more
On the years behind you
The hope assigned you
Shall the past replace
When a juster justice
Grown wise and stronger
Points the bone no longer
At a darker race.

So long we waited
Bound and frustrated
Till hate be hated
And caste deposed
Now light shall guide us
No goal denied us
And all doors open
That long were closed.

See plain the promise
Dark freedom-lover!
Night’s nearly over
And though long the climb
New rights will greet us
New mateship meet us
And joy complete us
In our new Dream Time.

To our fathers’ fathers
The pain, the sorrow;
To our children’s children
the glad tomorrow”.

As Oodgeroo says:  “A bright new day”. “No goal denied any of us” “The glad tomorrow”.

That’s our great country.

Happy Australia Day!

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