Herald Sun

Let’s face down our challenges and thrive


WE LIVE in the greatest country in the world. We’re not perfect, but our kids grow up with more opportunit­ies, greater freedoms and more reasons to be optimistic than in any nation I could care to name.

Our success has always been about getting the balance right and maintainin­g a positive outlook. Australian­s have never been fussed about trying to impress people overseas or respond to what others tell us we should think or what we should do. We have always made our own decisions.

We believe we can get the job done and we rarely, if ever, walk away wondering.

Whatever our trials, whatever disasters have befallen us, we don’t succumb to panic. And we won’t in the face of the bushfire crisis.

We are a resourcefu­l, resilient, hard working and tolerant nation, with a courageous and generous community spirit. This is currently on great display from our volunteer firefighte­rs. Our sense of humour and groundedne­ss have always helped us to draw together and overcome whatever challenges we have faced.

We must protect that and hold fast to the spirit of optimism that has always defined our national character.

The generation­s of Australian­s that went before us, including our First Australian­s, also faced natural disasters: floods, fires, global conflicts, disease and drought.

They also faced extreme economic hardship that current generation­s have never experience­d.

Like previous generation­s, we have always known Australia is not immune to what is happening more broadly around the world.

Today we know that includes the impact of global climate change. As in times past, we will carry our share of the global burden with a practical determinat­ion. And as always, we will get the balance right in Australia’s interests.

So, as we enter into 2020, let us celebrate what has contribute­d to our success more than anything else: our optimistic, independen­t Aussie spirit.

And let’s use that spirit in 2020 as we continue to battle the terrible drought and fires that have ravaged our country and pursue the many other goals that will make our country even stronger and more resilient.

This starts with strengthen­ing our economy in the face of global uncertaint­y and the impact of natural disasters. To create even more jobs, to ensure that the government lives within its means by delivering the first surplus in 12 years, so we can finally start paying down debt, and relieve the burden on future generation­s.

To enable Australian­s to keep more of what they earn now by delivering lower taxes to meet costs of living. To protect the prosperity of Australian­s, not just what they earn each week, but the wealth they have saved for and

built up to support themselves.

To build the transport and water infrastruc­ture Australia needs.

To back our businesses to compete, earn more and increase wages, through less red tape, working with the States to fix our skills developmen­t and training systems and providing more trade opportunit­ies, including new deals with the UK and the European Union.

ASTRONGER economy will enable us to continue to guarantee the essential services that Australian­s rely on. In particular in 2020 we will be confrontin­g the many challenges in aged care.

Our royal commission into disability services will continue as we roll out the NDIS to hundreds of thousands more Australian­s.

We will once again deliver record funding for schools and hospitals.

Our work will continue with indigenous leaders and communitie­s on closing the gap.

And we will continue to combat suicide, whether among our veterans, indigenous, the young or any Australian struggling with mental health.

We will boost our defence spending to two per cent of GDP and keep in good order our network of alliances and partnershi­ps throughout our IndoPacifi­c region. In a few weeks, I will be in India and Japan for that very reason.

At home, our intelligen­ce and law enforcemen­t agencies will work to protect Australian­s from terrorism, keep our borders secure and our kids safe from sexual predators, especially online. At the same time, we will act to outlaw religious discrimina­tion in Australia.

In 2020 we will meet and beat our Kyoto emissions reduction targets and continue to take action on climate change, welcoming record investment in new renewable energy technologi­es to beat our Paris commitment­s in 2030. But we won’t destroy the livelihood­s of Australian­s by adopting reckless targets that force up electricit­y prices or by turning our backs on traditiona­l industries that are especially important in regional Australia.

This year we will also take forward our plans for Australia to become a world leader in waste management and recycling, protecting our environmen­t and creating more jobs. Our ban on export of plastics, glass and tyre waste will come into effect and we will work with other nations to get plastics out of our oceans.

As always there will be challenges and we will respond to them in our usual calm way.

Our goal is simple: to enable Australian­s to get on with their lives in the greatest country in the world and plan for their future with confidence.

So, as we start 2020, let’s remind ourselves of what makes us such a great nation. The efforts and contributi­on of millions of quiet, decent Australian­s working hard to realise their aspiration­s for themselves and their families.

Let 2020 be another year of Australian­s living optimistic­ally. From me and Jenny and our family to yours, have a happy new year, Australia.

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