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A sense of balance: the Australian achievement in 2006: Australia Day address to the National Press Club [and] Questions and answers.
25 January 2006
TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP ADDRESS TO THE NATIONAL PRESS CLUB GREAT HALL, PARLIAMENT HOUSE
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A sense of balance: The Australian Achievement in 2006 Tomorrow, with a simple yet eloquent pledge, about 14,000 people from more than 70 countries of origin will become Australian citizens. This Australia Day celebration of citizenship embodies a profound truth and a simple irony.
The truth is that people come to this country because they want to become Australians. The irony is that no institution or code lays down precisely what that means.
Such is the nature of our free society. No one sits a test of Australianness.
It would, however, be a crushing mistake to downplay the hopes and expectations of our national family. We expect all who come here to make an overriding commitment to Australia, its laws and its democratic values. We expect them to master the common language of English and we will help them to do so.
We want them to learn about our history and heritage. And we expect each unique individual who joins our national journey to enrich it with their loyalty and their patriotism.
Australia is a magnet for people from all corners of the globe not because of what it might become, but because of what it has become. It harvests the hopes and dreams of mankind because of the quality of life it offers the ordinary citizen - lives of opportunity and belonging; of growth and of balance.
This achievement is higher, rarer and more precious than we commonly suppose.
Not so long ago, the Economist Intelligence Unit released a ranking of life in major cities around the world. It found that of the 12 most liveable cities on earth, five of them are in Australia.
Of the top dozen, almost half in one country, this country with only a third of one per cent of the world’s people. This remarkable achievement went largely unnoticed in our public debate.
Yet it evokes what, to my mind, is the secret of Australia’s greatness - our sense of balance. Today I want to locate this nation’s sense of balance at the centre of the modern Australian achievement and to explore its character.