Australia Day is going to be different for all of us this year.
Large public gatherings around our harbours, foreshores and parks will not go ahead. The wonderful St George Australia Day Festival, organised annually by Georges River Council, has been cancelled. We are encouraged to watch a special Salute to Australia Ceremony online and on TV.
The way we will celebrate Australia Day in 2021 has changed, but the reasons we do so have not. To me, Australia Day is about the best aspects of Australian life. We are a peaceful democracy, a technologically advanced economy and a successful multicultural nation. We are blessed with a precious natural environment and a people that are hard-working and sports-loving, as well as creative and entrepreneurial.
Australia Day is a chance to reflect on the 65,000 years of history of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and why this day means something different to them.
This year we still acknowledge distinguished service in the Australia Day Honours list, and I am confident St George citizens will feature prominently again, as they do every year.
We will welcome the thousands of people who will pledge their loyalty to Australia and take their place alongside us as our fellow Australian citizens.
And finally, Australia Day is a chance to show respect for each other and to recommit to the values we all share - a belief in freedom, tolerance and a sense of fair go for everyone.
When you look around the world and the turmoil and violence in other countries, or governments denying their citizens the liberties we enjoy here, or widespread poverty and illness, it is clear we have much to celebrate. We have our own challenges, but we remain the lucky country.
Wishing you a happy Australia Day, from my family to yours.
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