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Transcript of joint doorstop: Rome: 15 October 2010: Australian Parliamentary delegation to Rome for the canonisation of Blessed Mary MacKillop



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The Hon Julie Bishop, MP  Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs  Deputy Leader of the Opposition  Member for Curtin 

Joint doorstop with Senator Barnaby Joyce and Senator Ursula Stephens, Rome

Friday, 15 October 2010

Subject: Australian Parliamentary delegation to Rome for the canonisation of Blessed Mary MacKillop

JULIE BISHOP I am here as part of the Australian Parliamentary delegation in Rome for the momentous event this weekend.

The Parliamentary delegation comprises Kevin Rudd, our Foreign Minister; Senator Barnaby Joyce, the Leader of the National Party in the Senate; Senator Ursula Stephens from NSW, the chair of our Parliamentary Christian Group; and me as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The composition of the Australian Parliamentary delegation - from the House and from the Senate, from different states, different parties, Catholic and non-Catholic - is a reflection of how significant this event is for all Australians.

It is a momentous occasion, a matter of national importance, and all Australians can share in the excitement of the events of this weekend.

The life and work of Mary MacKillop is an inspiration for all Australians. Her legacy through education, through helping the disadvantaged, is a timeless legacy.

She lived in a different time, faced different challenges, different attitudes but her work lives on through the Sisters of St Josephs, and I am honoured and indeed I think we feel blessed to have this opportunity to be in Rome for the canonisation of Mary MacKillop.

BARNABY JOYCE Well it is great to be here as part of an Australian delegation with Ursula and Julie, also with my wife, and it is great to be in Rome. It is just an incredibly thrill. No doubt you’ve all had your eyes just opened wide and your jaw drops when you have a look around here.

But the reason why we’re here is a great Australian, Mary MacKillop, a lady of actually Scottish origin, has been a great sense of identity for Australian people and has really earned this day and earned this processes.

Mary MacKillop is responsible for the Joey’s convent that my daughters go to, she is responsible for the Joey’s convent that educated my wife, she is responsible for a very poor form of distance education for my religious experience and I think that she deserves to be held on a pedestal in Australia.

Let’s look at what she goes through.

First of all it is a great honour to have as our first saint a woman, that is a great indicator of how Australia always breaks the mould. But this lady was actually kicked out by the Catholic church because she stood her ground, she stood to her principles and then of course time proved her right. So she shows to be a person with real resolve and a person that if you believe something is right, you stick to your guns.

And also we talk about regional Australia, here is a lady who actually set up the mechanism of education for so many people in regional Australia.

If you want an education revolution, you won’t get much more revolutionary than going out to the country by yourself without much money into the outback of Australia and setting up schools up and down the length of the country.

So it is a great day for all Australians, and all Australians regardless of their persuasion in religion, regardless of their belief structure, are immensely proud that Australia is about to have their first saint.

As I was explaining it to other people, it is like a posthumous Noble Prize for religion and I am glad our Mary is getting it.

URSULA STEPHENS Thanks Barnaby. I think just adding to Barnaby’s comments can I say too that we are going to be joined later this evening by the leader of our delegation Kevin Rudd. He will be here in Rome within a few hours time.

And I want to say how palpable the joy and anticipation is of the Sisters. We met several of them last night and I know that they are just so excited that this is coming to fruition for them.

Mary MacKillop was an incredible woman. If you want to talk about social inclusion, she really had it down pat in terms of dealing with people who were disadvantaged, the poor, the homeless, those who were ill and abandoned, Mary Mackillop cared for them all and provides an extraordinary example to us all.

So it is great to be here and I hope to share the rest of the delegation’s experience with you over the next few days.