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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 21209

Address at Community Morning Tea and Citizen of the Year Paterson, New South Wales

Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 16/04/2004

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 21209

Bob Baldwin, ladies and gentlemen.

Bob said he wanted me to drop in at one of the local small businesses and say hello to a couple of people at a morning tea and I know he';s renowned for his understatements but this really takes the cake.

I am delighted to be back in the electorate of Paterson. I want to associate myself very strongly with what Bob had to say about the importance of volunteers in our community and how very important it is for any nation and any community within a nation to recognise those people who have worked hard for their local communities, who have achieved much, but even more importantly, have given much to the betterment of their fellow citizens.

And this morning is an opportunity for me to do that, to recognise the citizen of the year for Paterson, to recognise sporting achievement that';s always important in Australian culture and Australian life and also to recognise somebody who is outstanding as a young Australian.

Before moving to that, can I say very simply to all of you how impressed I am with the quality of the representation that Paterson has in the Federal Parliament in the person of Bob Baldwin. Bob is a great fighter for the people he represents and could I just mention two projects in particular. One of them is a project, the name of which I will never forget as long as my political career lasts and that is Bucketts Way. Bob starting talking about Bucketts Way when he was first elected, he kept talking about it when he was out of Parliament and he continued talking about it when he came back and, you know, he reminded me of the truth of that old adage that some people can talk under wet cement and Bob is a very good example that and relation to that and Weakleys Drive, he has been a tremendous advocate for the people of this area. He';s also worked very hard to represent to me and to Tony Abbott some of the needs of this community as far as health services are concerned and he';s spoken to me as recently as this morning when we visited a nursing home about the continuing needs. And I';m very pleased that quite a number of the changes that were brought in with the MedicarePlus package, particularly relating to the employment of practice nurses and ways and means of getting more doctors as well as practice nurses into the system so that some of the areas of doctor shortages can be attended to. And the introduction of the new safety net that will be so valuable to Australian families and will relieve them a lot of the concern that they have if they encounter an unexpected illness for any of their children. All of those changes are very valuable and I can say that many of them were as a result of views very strongly put to me and to my Health Minister by a group of members including your own representative in Bob Baldwin. So I speak in the warmest and most approving terms of the energy of his representation.

The only other thing I want to say is that gatherings like this remind me of the greatest strength that our nation has and that is the capacity of our people to work together irrespective of what our backgrounds may be, irrespective of what our political views may be, irrespective of how strongly we may feel about this or that issue. The fact that we are a classless society, we are a society where people relate to each other on the basis of the worth of an individual, not that individual';s background and that individual';s attitude and the way in which we can surmount and pass over those artificial barriers or differences has always been one of the great strengths of the Australian community.

We are as a nation living in very prosperous times, but that doesn';t mean that every single man and woman in Australia is enjoying the benefits of that and the aim of any decent society is to ensure as far as is possible the prosperity we enjoy and the strength we have as a nation is extended to all of our citizens. And that in the very difficult international circumstances we face, we understand the huge privilege of living in a country such as Australia and the obligation we have as Australian citizens to defend and protect the values that all of us hold dear and to recognise that there are some around the world and regrettably even some, a small number in our own midst, that would behave in a way that might threaten that freedom and challenge those values.

But ladies and gentlemen, can I say to all of the volunteers and in different ways that';s just about everybody in this gathering today – thank you for the contribution that you';re making to this part of Australia. It';s a part of Australia that I';m very familiar with. As many of you know, I';ve holidayed not far from here for a long period of time. I know it well and it';s always a great pleasure to come back.

But thank you for the contribution that you are making to such a united and cohesive community and it';s a great delight to be here with my friend and colleague Bob Baldwin and I finish by again commending him to you in the warmest possible terms.

Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript 21209