If we use our voice we can be far better

Labor Party

Australia Day is our chance to celebrate just how fortunate we are to live in the greatest country on earth.

Importantly, it is also an opportunity to reflect on how we can make it even greater.

It was in that spirit that we celebrated the Australians of the Year last night.

The winners and nominees represent the very best of our national character: our compassion and generosity, our courage and initiative, and our sense of service to community.

Today we welcome new citizens joining us in the great Australian family.

In choosing Australia as their home, they are embracing the values and qualities we hold dear: our belief in opportunity for all, the respect we have for hard work, the optimism that drives our aspiration and the Australian instinct for fairness, decency and care and respect for each other.

Australians uphold these qualities every day, in good times and bad.

As we’ve also seen in times of pandemic, fire, drought and the recent devastating floods, the worst of circumstances bring out the best in our people.

If there is an upside to tough times, it is that they have shown us we can be confident that whatever challenges the future brings, Australians will rise to meet them.

In our joys, our blessings and our hard-won triumphs, we celebrate what we have.

Just as importantly, we celebrate what we can be: the even greater Australia that is at our fingertips.

Later this year every Australian will have an historic opportunity to live the values that define us as a people.

And we can do it by heeding the gracious, patient call of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and answering it with a vote to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our nation’s birth certificate, the Constitution.

What greater way is there of celebrating our unique privilege of sharing this island continent with the world’s oldest continuous culture.

It would be an expression of pride that would also send to the world a message about our maturity and unity as a nation.

We have so much to celebrate, so much to be proud of.

And we know we can be greater still. More prosperous, more equal, a country where the doors of opportunity are open to all.

An Australia where the spirit of the fair go is alive in all of us.

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