Australia Day 2020 Flag-Raising Ceremony
Premier; Minister; Leader of the Opposition; Members of Parliament; Mayor Jenny Hill and fellow Councillors; Service Chiefs; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen; girls and boys.
I too extend my appreciation and respect to the representatives of Australia’s Indigenous peoples who have welcomed us to this region, and whose culture beneficially defines our contemporary spirit.
This year, this Australia Day, we have cause for both great sadness and great gratitude.
Queenslanders are all too familiar with natural disaster: devastating floods here a year ago and yet so many across the State so desperate now for rain. And then there is the tragedy of a long bushfire season that has brought so much grief and destruction right across our country from our State to Western Australia, but at its worst in New South Wales and Victoria.
At the same time, we acknowledge, with gratitude and admiration, the courage and selflessness of Australians in adversity.
We extend our heartfelt thanks to the army of volunteer firefighters who have spent day upon day defending people and homes amid relentless flames and choking smoke. We mourn those lost defending their communities.
We acknowledge the courage and compassion of many other Australians, who have done what they could to help family, neighbours and strangers under threat from fires, and to render assistance to those who had fled from fire zones.
Many of us, most of us, at first witnessed the unfolding tragedy with a sense of helplessness and frustration, but then contributed generously to support those affected by the fires and those who fought the fires.
The Australian Defence Force, an important part of the identity of this City, and represented magnificently today including by the 3rd Battalion’s Royal Guard of Honour and the Band of the 1st Battalion, has long embodied this spirit.
The ADF too has brought support and assistance to those who found themselves in emergency situations during the fires. On behalf of Queenslanders I thank ADF personnel and their families for their service during these traumatic times, and in their on-going role in the defence of our country.
It is not only in dire adversity that community spirit comes to the fore. It is to be found in the everyday lives of Queenslanders, and is embodied by the recipients of Australia Day Awards presented earlier today for wonderful contributions to the City and people of Townsville.
‘Celebration’ may not be the appropriate word on this Australia Day, but it is nevertheless fitting to reflect on our good fortune – that we live in a country in which spirit in adversity, mateship in its broadest sense, is such a defining characteristic.
And that is a worthy sentiment to accompany the raising of our national flag and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags to mark Australia Day 2020.