Shire matters with Mark Speakman: Christmas and goodwill

Ralph and Lucy are ready to celebrate Christmas in the Speakman household.

Ralph and Lucy are ready to celebrate Christmas in the Speakman household.

Every day is like Christmas when you wake up in the Shire. Thank you to the people of Cronulla for the honour of representing them.

A central message of Christmas is goodwill. One of the most popular Christmas stories is in the Gospel of Luke 2:8-20, involving the angel visiting the shepherds as they watched their flock by night. The angel brought news of the birth of Jesus, who they'd find "wrapped in swaddling clothes" lying in a manger"; in "the city of David ".

Then the heavenly host appeared and, well, that is when we heard the bit about "good will toward men" , as the King James version puts it.

This is an enduring message. It's one for politicians in particular - with the government on our shoulders, as it were - to have in mind not just at Christmas, but every day we bear this responsibility.

Parliamentary democracy, judicial independence and the rule of law are bulwarks against tyranny and unstable government. But developments this year in one particularly close ally abroad show the potential fragility of these institutions, when goodwill is seen as weakness and hyper-partisanship as strength. There are lessons for us here in what we're seeing in the United States now - it points us to reflect on the importance of goodwill.

Parliament and the democratic process are fuelled by often sharp differences of opinion, but that process has to be lubricated by the oils of goodwill.

We should all treasure that goodwill and guard it jealously. If we don't, we face the prospect that rifts grow wider, anger festers and communities divide. Goodwill, on the other hand, grows every time we rely on it to debate each other and even agree in good faith.

When we engender goodwill, goodwill is returned. It's like a magic Christmas pudding of warm fuzzies. Goodwill will help us keep firm the institutions on which the stability of our society relies. If by engendering goodwill we can also bring people together, we will all have done our bit.

I wish everyone a merry Christmas.