Our Australia Day celebrations are held on the traditional lands of the Wiradjuri people and I wish to acknowledge them as Traditional Owners.
I would also like to pay my respects to their Elders, past and present, and the Elders from other communities who may be here today.
What does Australia Day mean to you? What do you think of?
Is it barbeques and backyard cricket? Is it summer holidays and time spent with family?
It’s probably all these things, but scratch the surface and perhaps it’s more. So much more.
Perhaps it’s the gift that is this land we inhabit. And make no mistake – it is a gift and one to be valued.
Let’s pause and think about this great island continent and it’s distance away from so many more troubled and turbulent parts of the globe.
It’s vast agricultural opportunities with rich soils, unrivalled sunshine, and pristine reserves of underground water. These things are most precious and I ask you all to reflect on how very precious and sustainable our water and our land are. It concerns me that still, sometimes, our political masters lose sight of the long term consequences when tempted by very short term gains.
It’s people, our cultural diversity and all the wonderful opportunities that come from that. The opportunity to enjoy foods and flavours from around the world.
The opportunity to learn and understand about cultures, people, places from the far flung corners of this planet. There are few other countries where such cultural diversity exists in relative harmony. I would ask you all to recognise the opportunity that this provides and embrace it in a positive and learning way. As we race towards a global economy and communication, the very practical advantages of understanding other cultures will become essential.
The opportunity to learn, to achieve, to live and raise a family in a safe place. A place where our aged and infirm – indeed where everyone – has the comfort of knowing they’ll be cared for. Where health systems and social justice systems exist and prevail. Where we have a stable government and social system that looks after us.
Where, in this vast melting pot we maintain a culture of dry humour mixed with a healthy dose of cynicism.
Far be it from us Aussie’s to miss an opportunity to, in a very good way, take the mickey out of someone and to be disappointed if they didn’t serve it straight back at us.
And lastly, this is a country where volunteering and helping your fellow man & woman is common place. Where without our volunteers and our willing support networks, our country would grind to a halt. A shining example of this is our Australia Day Ambassador, Viv Kartsounis, who is the CEO & Co-founder of Shoes For Planet Earth which I’m sure we’ll hear more about shortly. But this country isn’t grinding to a halt. Quite the opposite, it is thriving.
Australia really is a very special and wonderful place to live, grow, achieve and help others.
So as we get together as a community, as we get together with our families, as we’re turning that snag on the barby – please just pause for a moment and think about how bloody fantastic Australia really is!
I would also like to congratulate the following winners of our Australia Day Awards. Your hard work and dedication is a testament to good old Australian spirit:
Citizen of the Year: Harry Thompson
Young Citizen of the Year: Jackson Bennett
Sportsperson of the Year: Tristen Ross
Young Sportsperson of the Year: Abbey Field
Cr Neil Smith
26th January 2016