PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 21152

Commonwealth Day

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: 08/03/2004

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 21152

Commonwealth Day is an opportunity to reflect on the importance of the democratic principles and common institutions that lie at the heart of the association of the Commonwealth of Nations. Those principles, enshrined in the Harare declarations of ten years ago, are universal and are the foundation of democracy and good government - free and fair elections, the rule of law, freedom of expression and the protection of human rights.

Since its inception, the Commonwealth has sought to encourage and support the development and maintenance of sustainable democratic institutions. Its influence has been felt across the globe, because unlike other international organisations, the Commonwealth does not exist to promote the interests of a particular region. Its membership is incredibly diverse, embracing a multiplicity of religions, ethnicity and culture. The richest and the poorest, some of the largest and indeed many of the smallest countries in the world are part of the Commonwealth family.

The Commonwealth continues to be an important force for good, extending assistance to its members in time of need and giving hope to those who struggle for freedom and democracy. This has not always been an easy road. Last year, the Commonwealth overcame a serious challenge to its unity and its credibility by taking a strong stand against the excesses of President Mugabe's brutal regime. The Commonwealth demonstrated that it is not only capable of identifying unacceptable behaviour but also of taking action. We hope one day soon to see a return to democracy in Zimbabwe and for that nation, once again, to be a respected member of the Commonwealth.

Today, we are proud to reaffirm Australia's commitment to this unique association and celebrate our shared heritage and values.

Transcript 21152