PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 22838

Millenium Mosman Youth Art Prize, Mosman, Sydney

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: 14/06/2000

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 22838

E&OE …………………………………………………………………………………

Tony, thank you very much for those warm words of welcome. Madam Mayor Patricia Harvey, Gillian Skinner, the other councillors of the Mosman Council, other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

As somebody who bar a year or so in the 1960s when he was on a traditional working holiday, then traditional overseas and barring of course the enormous amounts of time I now spend living in Canberra or travelling around Australia, I’m someone who’s lived all of his life in the city of Sydney. I was educated here both at Canterbury Boys’ High School and at Sydney University and I’m not of course visiting Mosman for the first time. But this is certainly the first occasion as Prime Minister that I’ve been received in this very gracious way by the first citizen of your municipality and I want to thank you Councillor Harvey for those very kind words of welcome, to thank you Tony for what you have said of me and have said in welcoming me.

It’s a great place Australia and it’s rich with variety and diversity. I spent last night in the town of Moree with some seventeen thousand people, north west of New South Wales. And to come this afternoon here to Mosman having been last night to a not dissimilar gathering and this morning also, is the remainder of the incredible diversity of this country. And of course the best thing about being Prime Minister of Australia is the opportunity to savour that diversity and the opportunity to meet as you go around Australia, different groups of people each in their own way endeavouring to make a contribution to building a better Australian community and a more harmonious Australian society.

Mosman of course bulks large in the history of the party that I’m very proud to represent and lead. It also bulks very large in the civic life of Australia and of the city of Sydney. Over the years, Mosman has not been afraid to assert an independent voice – a radical point of view on occasions, as well as maintaining a forward momentum of preserving what could loosely be described as mainstream Australian values. It’s a community that has fostered the arts and this gallery here beautifully taking its place inside what used to be a place of worship is a reminder of that. It’s also a municipality that has of course boasted, as does Tony’s electorate in its entirety and but for the fact that I represent a number of people from the beautiful headland suburbs of Hunters Hill and Woolwich, I might be disposed to agree with some of your remarks about the beauty of this electorate, Tony. But it also of course boasts a variety of schools. Mosman is a great example and the electorate of Warringah is a great example of the choice that is available in education within Australian society, something to which not only your local member but I and the members of my Government are very, very strongly committed.

And I know that in a few moments I will be awarding some prizes to young people who’ve made a particular contribution and in connection with the millennium and of course we are as a community very focussed, not only on the fact that this is the year 2000 but also that next year we will celebrate for an entire twelve months, one hundred years of the Federation of Australia. And it’s an event that I think all Australians will share because of all of the, I guess the annual events of all of the historical milestones that we have, none in a way more naturally unites us in a non-combative, harmonious fashion than the commemoration of the bringing together of the then colonies to form the Commonwealth of Australia at that time. It was not a constitution imposed or foisted upon us, but one embraced by the people.

But in a few moments in presenting these awards, I will be able to honour the talent of the younger men and women of this municipality. And if I would have one message for them and I suppose speakers, particularly prime ministers always have messages or should have messages on occasions like this and that is that there is nothing that a local community can not achieve if all of the forces and influences for good within that community are prepared to co-operate and work together.

Some of you hear me talk a little bit about what I describe as the Social Coalition. It’s not a political description, it’s a description of combined community effort and it’s based on the view that the government can’t do it all on its own, it has neither the resources or the wit to solve every problem but it can do something. Individuals left to their own devices in many cases can achieve great things, but some need help and compassion and understanding more than others. Great community organisations like the Salvation Army and the St Vincent de Paul Society and the Red Cross and the RSL, they all make a tremendous contribution to our community as well. And there are many open-hearted, generous, philanthropic business men and women in our society who can also make a difference and if through the operation of our Social Coalition we can get all of those elements in our society working together, each contributing what it does best, then we can achieve solutions and outcomes that we might otherwise not be able to achieve. One of the most distinguishing things about Australian society is that we’ve always had a lot of volunteers. We are on eof the great volunteer societies of the world, you see it everywhere.

I never cease to be amazed at the way in which, in a self-sacrificing fashion so many people devote their lives to a cause – to a local sporting association, to a local community organisation, their local church, whatever their bent may be. They do it for no reward, they do it because they derive not only a sense of personal satisfaction but the feeling that they are doing something good for their community and that is the great resource within Australian society and it is given less grudgingly and more open heartedly and more generously in Australian society than I think in any other part of the world. And one of the reasons we do it so well is that we are essentially a classless community, people are prepared to pitch in and work together to try and achieve an outcome. There aren’t the inhibitions in Australian society that you might find in more structured societies in other parts of the world and that is one of the great distinguishing characteristics and a very precious asset it is and it is something I commend very warmly to the younger people who are gathered here today.

And I guess the other thing I’d say to them is that we of course, not only here in Mosman in Sydney, but also in Australia generally live in one of the most fortunate communities in the world. It is a remarkably peaceful and cohesive society, it is a society that respects difference but it prefers to settle its disputes by ferocious arguments rather than brute force. However much I know on occasions you may wonder about the point of some of the political disputation that occurs in Federal or State Parliament, remember that the alternative of settling disputes with physical force is infinitely less attractive. And we have been able to take the democracy we inherited from other parts of the world and most particularly Britain and Ireland and build it into something very special and particularly Australian.

And gatherings like this are a celebration to me of the great success of what Australia is. We come together in a very simple, straightforward gathering. I’m able to say a few words about my feelings of Australia. You’re able to make up your mind whether you agree with me or not. I think on your behalf honour some young people within the Australian community who’ve shown a particular talent and we do it within a gallery that provides for this community an opportunity to express its love of art and the artistic side of our being, which is a very important side of our being.

So can I say to you Madam Mayor, again thank you very much for having me here in Mosman. I’ve been to a few rowdy political meetings in Mosman during my time, not so recently but there have been occasions when I’ve been to some very rowdy political meetings in the Mosman Town Hall and maybe before my political career ends, I’ll come to some in the Mosman Town Hall of equal noise in the future. Although I hope that I won’t hold the Honourable Member for Warringah responsible for that.

The last thing I can say and I mean this very sincerely and very genuinely, I think you have got a very fine Federal Member in Tony Abbott. He’s not only a great Federal Member for Warringah, but he’s also a very good Minister and he’s a person who can relate to all Australians and that’s a very important quality for anybody in public life. So Tony it’s a delight to be in your electorate. Madam it’s a pleasure to be your guest and to be in your municipality and I wish you and your council and all the people of the Mosman municipality great good fortune, and good health in the years ahead.

Thank you.

[Ends]

Transcript 22838