Wednesday, January 28, 2009

W.A.A.I.T.T & C.R.C

'We are all in this together.'

Kevin Rudd's Citizenship Ceremony speech on Australia Day repeated this phrase, which has been getting a fair bit of work lately.

The other trio of key terms getting a workout in the prime ministerial speeches of late is:

'what are the values that have shaped this vast land into the great nation that it has become? I believe there are three – courage, resilience and compassion.'

Courage, resilience, compassion. Three great values that anchored in the realisation of a fourth, and that is that we are all in this together. We are all in this together. Business, unions, bosses, workers, government, the community, governments federal, state and local. Those who have come to this land 200 years ago, those who are welcomed into the nation’s family today. Indigenous Australians, non-Indigenous Australians. We are all in this together.

To our Indigenous leaders, and those who call for a change to our national day, let me say a simple, respectful, but straightforward no.

We are a free country and it is natural and right from time to time, that there will be conversations about such important symbols for our nation. It is equally right as a free country that those of us charged with political leadership provide a straightforward response.

There is much controversy in many lands about national days. Examine the history of France, of Spain, of Italy, of Germany, of the United States. The Declaration of Independence at a time when one third of the American colonists supported the British Crown. There’ve always been controversies about national days.

But this is not the point. The central point is what we then resolve to fashion as a nation? That is the central point. And whether the nation we fashioned through our resolve, our energies and our efforts is a nation which includes all, not just some. And that is why I support this, our national day. Because in Australia, we have resolved to build such a nation. A nation for Australians all, not just for Australians some.

A nation which has apologised for the mistakes of the past, and there have been many. But a nation now resolved to close the gap. A nation now resolved to close the gap in education, in health, and employment, and those things which matter in people’s daily and practical lives. A nation of Australians all. Not just of some. So let us embrace this great practical challenge which lies ahead in closing the gap. Embraced and supported by the goodwill of all Australians, to get behind this great project, so that the gap that exists between us in the life opportunities which present themselves can be closed.

To those of you who join us today as members of the Australian family for the first time, can I say welcome. Welcome to the nation’s family. When citizenship was introduced by Ben Chifley 60 years ago, it was to reflect this great wave of migration which came to our shores after the last world war. And Chifley and those who worked with him said among themselves, let us embrace formally this construction of the new Australian nation. No longer British subjects past, but Australian citizens future.

And today you join their ranks. And as Prime Minister of Australia I am so glad that you are doing so, because you bring with you dynamism, you bring with you determination, and you bring with you diversity.

The great spirit of Australia has been this - to fashion unity from diversity. And to do so through tolerance and respect, and through the energisation of the nation. And that is what your joining us today does for the year ahead and for the future.

As we have done throughout our national history, resolving afresh to fashion a nation for a continent, and a continent for a nation, and you our newest members. The values on which this nation has been built and which will guide us for the future – courage, resilience, compassion, and to add that fourth to realise that we are all in this together. And shaped with these great values that have guided us so well in the past, let us proceed with absolute confidence, with absolute confidence to embrace the challenges that now face us for the future.

A happy Australia Day to you all.

No comments: