Feb 8, 2018

2018 Holt Australia Day Awards Speech – 8 Feb 2018

I wanted to rise tonight here in this place to talk about an exceptional group of people and organisations that I honoured on Australia Day as part of the 14th annual Holt Australia Day awards 2018. We honoured 27 outstanding individuals and seven local organisations for their contribution to the community at the 10th annual Day of the Nations celebrations in Hampton Park, which was organised by the Hampton Park Progress Association and supported by the City of Casey. I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank the Holt Australia Day Awards Committee, which consisted of Chris Drysdale, Judy Owen, Leanne Petridis, Mladen Krsman and Ron Webb, for selecting the award recipients.

Australia Day, in my view, is a day where we can honour those that really do make this country a great place. When people ask me what it is to be an Australian, my first thought is that we live in a place of such breathtaking beauty and diversity, of arid deserts, of mountain ranges, of tropical forests and amazing coastline. I lived on the edge of the desert as a young man in Kalgoorlie for some seven years. Apart from the physical characteristics of Australia, what I think makes the country great is the characteristics of its people. I really do believe that we are an egalitarian country, committed to equality of opportunity and accepting all of those who come to this boundless country, asking only that these people share our values of tolerance, diversity and respect for community, its institutions and the rule of law. You could really say that citizens of this country are truly equal in the eyes of God, regardless of race, regardless of colour and regardless of beliefs. On that Day of the Nations on Australia Day, we celebrated those who I thought truly encapsulated what it means to be an Australian—those who believe in sacrifice, those who believe it is their duty to make a contribution for the better of the wider community.

We awarded some very exceptional people the Australia Day award. If I can read quickly into the record those whom we honoured: Aaron Grant, Carol Bosward and Sandra Rotunno, Casey Garba, Christopher Klepacz, Pastor Decal Nono, Ellie Blackburn, Elyse Cumine, Heather Triffett, Hispana Ventana—Spanish Window—Jean-Marie Jean-Pierre, John Cooper, John Foy, Josh and Eden Carell, Julie Cini, Karen Alsop, Pastor Keith Vethaak, Pastor Kerrigan La-Brooy, Lyn and Barry Leeds, Mary-Ann Spencer, the National Servicemen’s Association of Australia South East Sub Branch, Pastor Phil and Pastor Norma Cayzer, Cranbourne-Narre Warren Relay for Life, Ruth Croft, South East Melbourne Vietnamese Associations Council, Southern Masters Cycling Club, Star News Group, Sue Owen, Tammie McKill, Tareq Bakhtani and Zoe Panagiotopoulos.

Those names I’ve read into the parliamentary record are names of people and organisations that didn’t seek the limelight for the work that they did to make their community a better place. I think that is one of the other truly defining characteristics of the Australian character. Those who pull together for the common good, those who sacrifice for their community—even some of the recipients who fed the homeless out of their own funds, who decided to be a role model in what they chose to do so—didn’t do this in a way that sought publicity; they did it in a quiet, quintessentially Australian, understated way.

When we have a discussion about what it means to be an Australian, Australia Day is a good time to celebrate those people. You would notice I read a number of names of people that came from all walks of life and all corners of the globe. I really do believe that the diversity of this country is the strength of this country and that, as I said to those that attended the Australia Day awards honouring their achievements, this country’s best days are yet to come, and having people like these will ensure that this country reaches its great future.


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