Remarks, New Year’s Day Cricket Australia- Mcgrath Foundation reception

PRIME MINISTER: Today we’re also joined by Dame Annette King who’s here from the High Commission and we welcome you. We also have Glenn and Sarah McGrath from The McGrath Foundation which is the reason principally why we are all gathered here today and this Test has become an icon on the Sydney calendar and it has always been a Test that has talked about, I think, the great empathy and generosity of Australians and the tremendous service that Glenn has led through this foundation for many years now and the fact that there is the wonderful blend between that spirit and Australia’s National sport I think those two come together in a very special way. So Glenn it’s wonderful to have you here back at Kirribilli House again.

To all of our teams who are here today, Kia Ora to the kiwis, and gday to the Australians it’s wonderful to have you here at this annual event and I’ve been watching closely over the last series and the ones that proceeded it and I have to say as a very proud Aussie, I could not be more proud of Tim and the whole team and so I’ve texted him on too many occasions, Tim, telling him how enthusiastic I’ve been about it all but I want to thank you again Tim for your great leadership.

I remember we stood here last year and it was a tough time for cricket this time last year and your leadership through that I think has risen you to be a great leader in sport and I want to thank you again for the way you continue to lead our national team so congratulations to you and all your team.

Can I also welcome those from Cricket Australia, Cricket New South Wales and the SCG trust and Tommy Iceton the unofficial selector of the PM’s XI, that’s a Shire joke.

This Test and this whole season has been played out against terrible events both here in Australia, and also in New Zealand with the White Island tragedy. And those terrible events continue to this very day and they’ll be ongoing during the course of this test match. And in all of these terrible events, be it the fires or the White Island tragedy, as in so many other times before, Australia and New Zealand have always stood together and that has been very true on this occasion as well.

But today I want to particularly recognise the contribution of New Zealand’s firefighters and what they have done to support their Australian mates here at his testing time. Since November more than a hundred fire fighters, an incident management team, aviation specialists have supported our team’s battling the blazes in New South Wales, the RFS headquarters, Northern Rivers, Casino, and Singleton, Hunter Valley and in Queensland in the headquarters there and the South Eastern region at Charlton, we’ve been so well supported by those from so many other nations during these terrible fires and none more so than our Kiwi cousins and as you go out there on Friday, I know you’ll be going out there and particularly the Australian team, thinking of the terrible fires that are underway at the moment and I want to thank you Tim and the team and both Captains for the commemoration that you will make, in wearing the black armbands for those who we’ve lost over the course of these fires in particular, Having lost Sam McPaul just the other day and in just a dreadful terrible incident just outside of Albury, but also Geoff Keaton and Andrew O’Dwyer who we lost earlier in the fire season and your recognition of them during the course of this test match. I think will mean a lot to their families and a lot to their mates who served alongside them in these terrible fires.

But the fires do rage on, it is a time of great challenge for Australia. Whether they’re started by lightning storms or whatever the cause may be, our firefighters and all of those have come behind them to support them, whether they’re volunteering on the front line or behind the scenes in a great volunteer effort, it is something that will happen against the backdrop of this test match. But at the same time Australians will be gathered whether it’s at the SCG or around television sets all around the country and they’ll be inspired by the great feats of our cricketers from both sides of the Tasman and I think they’ll be encouraged by the spirit shown by Australians and the way that people have gone about remembering the terrible things that other Australians are dealing with at the moment.

The other reason this test is so important is The McGrath Foundation as I said before and it’s a great pleasure to be involved with the McGrath Foundation. This is an organisation that I think has a particular link to where so much of the devastation is being felt at the moment in Australia – out in our rural and regional communities. That’s always been at the heart I know of Glenn’s passion for The McGrath Foundation that those parts of our country that don’t often get the same levels of support or services or find it harder to access, this has been Glenn’s passion to turn that around and what he’s been able to achieve and all the foundation’s been able to achieve has been simply remarkable and so it’s no surprise that as we go into this Test match and again seek to raise funds and raise awareness about breast cancer and the many treatments and support that need to be provided and the resources that are needed to keep those treatments and support up to the standard that we would want for all of our loved ones, We know that The McGrath foundation will equally be very mindful of the times that we’re in and the disasters that are befalling so much of the country and they know that the same volunteer spirit they draw on in their foundation is the volunteering spirit that is at work in those communities even now and we thank them for everything they do.

So it’s going to be a great Test, but the real test Australia is facing right now is out there on the fire front, and as those brave Australians go about what they do on that fire front and around the country. I know that this Test match will be again a great display of the brotherhood and sisterhood between Australia and New Zealand and we thank you all very much for being here with Jenny and I today.

Thank you very much.

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