PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 16011

Address to the Launch of The Australian of the Year Awards 2009, Call For Nominations, King's Hall, Old Parliament House, Canberra

Photo of Rudd, Kevin

Rudd, Kevin

Period of Service: 03/12/2007 to 24/06/2010

More information about Rudd, Kevin on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 12/07/2008

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 16011

I acknowledge the First Australians on whose land we meet, and whose cultures we celebrate and honour as among the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

And I thank Matilda, where have you discreetly disappeared to? I have never known Matilda to discreetly disappear anywhere. Thank you very much for that exceptionally warm welcome to country. It is so important in the fabric in our celebration of what Australia is.

The Australian of the Year awards are an important part of our national life. These awards give all Australians an opportunity to take part in recognising and applauding outstanding achievement and contribution - in every field of national life: sports; education; the arts; business; the armed forces; scientific and medical research; charity work; strengthening the life of local communities from the bush to the suburbs, and helping those most in need, both in Australia and abroad.

These awards are also special in the way they acknowledge leadership of younger Australians, older Australians and those making a difference in local communities but those whose work would otherwise go unrecognised on the national stage.

The Australian of the Year award has been made since 1960, that's almost fifty years ago.

During the past half century it has become an increasingly important national celebration of positive achievements and of individuals who have in their lives and in their work, genuinely made a difference for Australia.

We think of names such as Joan Sutherland, ‘Weary' Dunlop, Fred Hollows, Arthur Boyd and Cathy Freeman. That is indeed a roll of honour.

They are not just outstanding Australians who excelled in their endeavours. There is something distinctively Australian about their achievements and how they rose to greatness.

The exuberance of Cathy Freeman, who can ever forget.

Fred Hollows' understated but intense commitment to better the lives of others.

The courage, compassion and heroism of ‘Weary' Dunlop.

And this year, Lee Kernaghan, the voice of country Australia.

Each of these lives tells us something not just about them, but about us as well - something about being Australian; something about the values to which we should most aspire.

And what is that essential value? It is I think, an essential Australian trait to believe that we become better human beings by giving to other people.

Some call it mateship, others call it being a decent neighbour, it is called many different things. But if you drill down into it and try to understand it's essence and it's fundamental being, it's essentially that.

In this country, in our own Australian way, to discover the ancient wisdom of St Francis, that it is in giving that you receive.

And that is a really good Australian thing. And it's a remarkable thing. It is about how we regard greatness within our own country, properly deserved and it is how we regard greatness in the contribution to the world beyond.

Australians of the Year are role models to a new generation of Australians. They are Australians who lift our spirits. They inspire us. The are positive role models.

They challenge us to do more than just live our lives. They challenge us to do much, much more than simply to pursue our own self interest.

That includes the distinguished winners of all of the Australian of the Year Awards - including:

The Young Australian of the Year award - won in 2008 by Casey Stoner, Australia's reigning world champion motorcycle racer, whose career began with his first national title win at the age of six.

The Senior Australian of the Year award - won in 2008 by David Bussau, whose work in co-founding Opportunity International has helped, literally millions of people in developing world lifting themselves out of poverty.

And Australia's Local Hero award - won in 2008 by the inimitable, irrepressible, incomparable Jonathon Welch, who has contributed his musical talents through the Choir of Hard Knocks, which has brought hope and inspiration to many people suffering from addictions, mental illness and homelessness.

And so we look ahead to Australia Day 2009, it is now time to think of other Australians who deserve similar acclaim.

That is why we are launching this appeal for nominations for the 2009 awards.

This is an opportunity to recognise distinguished achievement and contribution to the life of our nation.

So I would urge all Australians, young and old, country and city, to get engaged, think it through, have a yack. Work out who you think deserves this great recognition on behalf of the people of our nation.

As I travel across the length and breadth of this great land of ours, Australia, I am constantly surprised, constantly amazed at the discovery of local acts of heroism, local acts of contribution, local acts of community service, which would otherwise simply go unremarked and unnoticed beyond that community.

These are the people who we wish to recognise. It is that quality of life that we wish to emulate and to hold up high in the history of our country.

I think also as we embark upon this new year of nominating people for this great award, let's also reflect again on the core values we wish to reflect people who give of themselves to the community, people who give of themselves to the nation. People who give of themselves in Australia's building bridges with the rest of the world. Positive people. People who inspire our spirits, people who reach beyond themselves, and people who see fulfilment in that very act of giving.

It gives me great pleasure to declare nominations for the Australian of the Year Awards 2009 officially open.

I encourage every single Australian to think it through, nominate somebody, somebody who has inspired them, somebody who has lifted their spirits, and made them proud to be an Australian. Thank you.

Transcript 16011