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Sunday, 26 January 2020
HMAS Canberra
Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC

As Governor of New South Wales and Patron of the NSW Australia Day Council, I am honoured to receive this ‘Salute to Australia’ for Australia Day 2020 on behalf of the people of New South Wales.

I pay my respects to the Gadigal of the Eora Nation and to their Elders, past, present and emerging, and to all “first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands.”[1]

“This sovereignty” as acknowledged in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, “is a spiritual notion….and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown”.  

A salute is an acknowledgement of respect and a recognition of relationship.[2] The  Salute to Australia signifies the respect we have for each other and the relationships we build in this extraordinary multicultural land of ours.

This Australia Day, we come together­ at a time of prolonged drought and of devastating bushfires.

In the drought, paddocks have been laid bare and despair has replaced hope.  Tragically, in the bushfires, precious lives have been lost, properties have been incinerated, livestock and wildlife lost, the landscape randomly blackened.

Amidst the loss and heartbreak, we have seen the best of Australians 

… in the herculean efforts of our firefighters, and emergency services personnel, the majority of whom are volunteers, and who have contributed a staggering number of hours in protecting lives and property, fauna and flora, including shielding our nation’s only natural grove of Wollemi Pines.  

We have seen the best of Australians

… in the work of our Police; and

… the Australian Defence Force, whose efforts were crucial to the safe evacuation of communities.

We have seen the best of Australians 

… in the kindness and support which we, as a community, have extended to each other over these last months;

and we have seen the best of the international community that has come to help.

We mourn the loss of the three Americans whose plane crashed on Thursday. 

On the long road to recovery we need to continue to be the best of Australians.

In the soul-searching that will inevitably follow in the months ahead, let us keep our focus on the individuals and communities who will continue to need our support, whilst, all the time, as a mature society, improve the things that need to be improved, and seek out the better practices that will sustain our people, our landscape, our economy and our community heart.

Here in New South Wales, where small businesses form such an important part of the rural economy, we can all help support our rural families, businesses and communities. 

So let’s explore our state, visit the rural towns, buy from the bush and help these communities re-build.

Today is a day when we honour all Australians, and especially our NSW Australians of the Year[3]

We honour their service to the nation and the community in the areas of medicine, science, education and the environment.

Around the nation, and on board HMAS Canberra, we welcome new Australian citizenswho proudly affirm their belonging to this land. 

It is a day of community.

May every day of this new decade, in the words of poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal, be … for all of us … a ‘breaking dawn’.[4]

[1]Uluru Statement from the Heart, 26 May 2017

[3] The 2020 NSW Australian of the Year is Orthopaedic surgeon and human-rights advocate Professor Munjed Al Muderis

Environmental educator and social enterprise founder Sue Lennox is the 2020 NSW Senior Australian of the Year.

The 2020 NSW Young Australian of the Year is Indigenous mentor and fundraiser Corey Tutt

Bernie Shakeshaft, the founder of BackTrack Youth Works Program, is the 2020 NSW Local Hero

[4] ‘Look up, my people/ The dawn is breaking’ from A Song of Hope, poem by Oodgeroo Noonuccal (1920-1993), published 1974

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