It’s a real pleasure and honour to be addressing you today and I want to start by thanking Chief Minister Andrew Barr and the Australia Day Ambassador Program for giving me the opportunity to be a 2016 Australia Day Ambassador for the ACT.
I may seem like an unconventional choice, having only moved to Australia in 2002 as a 14 year old, but I guess for many who are now Australian this is a familiar story. Australia is a remarkably diverse land with an equally diverse people, and moving to Australia has offered me and my family a great many opportunities which would not have been possible were it not for the many things that make Australia such a great nation.
We have much to be proud of as a nation and Australia Day provides us with an opportunity to celebrate many qualities of our shared lives: We celebrate our rich diversity, we celebrate how we are able to embrace challenges to develop our gifts, skills and talents and to contribute to the common good. We celebrate the sense of mateship that is still at the heart and core of our way of life as a nation.
We celebrate and honour Australians like former lieutenant-general David Morrison (ACT Australian of the Year), Professor Greg Tegart (ACT Senior Australian of the Year) , Nipuni Wijecwickrema (ACT Young Australian of the Year) and Peter Cursley (ACT Local Hero), and many others from around the country for their outstanding contributions to our society.
Australia Day is also a day to reflect on how we have dealt with, and continue to deal with, the tragedies of our past, and to reflect on the fact that the opportunities many of us enjoy are not available to all in Australia.
We also acknowledge that for Australia’s First Nations Peoples it is a very difficult day, commemorating the arrival of the British and some truly terrible parts of our history.
My hope is that these celebrations will include our intentions to continue to support the equal and life giving opportunities for all of us who are the Australian People.
So this Australia Day, let’s celebrate what is great about Australia, reflect on our shortcomings and renew our commitment to continuing to make Australia a great nation – so that everyone, from our First Peoples to our most recent arrivals (even those that arrive by boat) can live in a truly lucky country.