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Address on the occasion of Australia Day in the National Capital, 26 January 2003, Canberra, ACT.



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ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE RIGHT REVEREND DR PETER HOLLINGWORTH, AC, OBE,

GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

ON THE OCCASION OF

AUSTRALIA DAY IN THE NATIONAL CAPITAL

26 JANUARY 2003

There is always something special about observing Australia Day here in the national capital. From this Commonwealth Place, we see around us the instruments of Australian governance and law, as well as many of the great symbols of our nation’s history and achievements.

But this Australia Day weekend has even greater significance for Canberra, stronger and more meaningful than ever before.

The unthinkable took place here last weekend and Canberra has been shaken to its physical and emotional foundations. All of us who live here are filled with sadness and sympathy for those who have lost loved ones, homes, valued possessions and work places, and that sense of feeling settled we usually take for granted.

But it also needs to be said today that Canberra has much to be proud of in how it has rallied over these last eight days.

The term “community” is widely used but seldom demonstrated in such a powerful way as it has been in this city, this last week.

Canberra as the national capital has proved once and for all that it is not a city without a soul. It is a living community where people have come together without hesitation to do the best they can to help those in need.

On Australia Day, we like to ask the question “what does it mean to be Australian?” I think Canberrans have provided a fine answer in their response to this crisis: at a professional level and as neighbours. Above all today, let us recognise and thank our fire-fighters, the police and other emergency services, and all the volunteers who support them.

In some respects, Canberra will never be the same again: our natural terrain will change, familiar landmarks like Mount Stromlo have gone, whole neighbourhoods will have to be rebuilt from the ground upwards.

But I suspect that this city has also changed for the better because, whatever we have lost, we will also have gained something of immeasurable worth.

On this Australia Day 2003, Ann and I wish our fellow citizens the very best.

God bless you all.