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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