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Christmas message to ADF personnel.

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16 DECEMBER 2003

As Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief, it is a particular pleasure to send Christmas greetings to all members of the Australian Defence Force and their families.

Over the past year, you have once again demonstrated the important, multifaceted way in which the ADF helps secure Australia and its interests.

Whether the ADF was helping the community during natural disasters, responding to the challenge of terrorism, or contributing to the stability of the world and our region through military operations - you delivered.

High levels of performance were asked of you in 2003, and you met this demand with commitment and professionalism. You should feel justifiably proud of your efforts.

In a number of specific operations, you demonstrated to the world the skills, capability, judgement and compassion for which the ADF is respected and acclaimed. These included the tense and difficult environments of Iraq and Afghanistan, continuing UN operations in East Timor, and the police-led regional assistance mission to the Solomon Islands.

I want to take this opportunity to send my special regards to the men and women of the ADF who are away from home - particularly those on active service. As a former soldier who spent many a Christmas overseas on operations or on posting, I know how hard it is to be separated from one’s immediate family at this time of year. We here in Australia appreciate the sacrifices you are making, and we hope you will soon be reunited with your loved ones. You may be physically absent, but you are very much in our thoughts.

Marlena and I commend you for your outstanding efforts over the past twelve months, and we wish you all the very best in your individual and collective endeavours in 2004. We trust it will be a successful, safe and happy year for you and your families.

Have a peaceful, enjoyable Christmas and a wonderful New Year.