Back home in Australia, our country is celebrating our national day in typical Aussie fashion – a citizenship ceremony, a day at the beach, family barbecues, informal, relaxed, the way we do things without pomp and ceremony.
And around the world, Australians have been gathering together to celebrate our national day. I spent the weekend in New York and at that remarkable New York landmark, the Empire State Building, one of the most recognisable Australian faces on earth - Hugh Jackman - turned on the lights so that the iconic landmark of the Empire State Building was bathed in green and gold for Australia Day to the delight of Aussies and Americans.
But I can think of no more important place for Australia’s Foreign Minister to be on Australia Day than here with you in Afghanistan because you are making a contribution to the peace and security of Afghanistan, which in turn is making a contribution to global peace and security. We are in an epic battle. We are facing threats from non-state actors who have no regard for boundaries or laws, no respect for civilised behaviour or humanity. Whether it’s the Taliban or the Haqqani Network or Da’esh, Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda - terrorism these days is more diversified, more dangerous, more global than we’ve ever seen.
These groups will take us back to the Dark Ages with their violent extremism and their brutal ideology. And it’s not just open, liberal, Western democracies like ours that are at risk. These non-state actors are threatening any form of government structure, however it’s comprised, that make up a nation state.
I spoke in Washington recently and I said that our very rules based international system is at stake here. So the work Australia is doing in Afghanistan means that we are guardians of the freedoms that the world has enjoyed for so long. So on behalf of the Australian Government and the Australian people I want to thank you for what you are doing here. It matters, it really matters and we are grateful for your service and, in far too many instances, the sacrifice that has been made here.
You know Australians around the world are renowned for being pragmatic and enterprising, fearless, yet friendly and you epitomise all the great qualities that Australians have.
Now in wishing you a happy Australia Day, in what is a pretty confronting environment, I wanted to bring a little bit of Western Australia to Afghanistan and the West Coast Eagles and the Fremantle Dockers have donated some match footys, Sherrin footballs and they hope you get a chance to kick them around today.
I really want to spend time with as many of you as I can, so enjoy today, Australia Day!
- Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555