Friday, 24 March 2017

Op-Ed: February 2017

Last Thursday we all reflected on our history and future as we celebrated Australia Day; all that our forebears have created, and all that we want to be in the future.

As our Prime Minister rightly points out, we are the most successful multicultural nation on earth.

We have welcomed migrants from around 200 different nations, not just in recent decades, but from the time of the gold rush.

Last Thursday, a further 16,000 immigrants took the oath or pledge to join us as Australian citizens in ceremonies large and small in our cities and our regions.

That is why Australia Day has become new citizens day in so many respects. As your federal member of parliament, there is no greater privilege than being the first to welcome new citizens.

You feel it at every citizenship ceremony, but on Australia Day, you know that for our new Australians they will always have that special pride and emotion in becoming an Australian on Australia Day.

Australia Day is also a day when we recognise outstanding community contribution.

Across our vast continent and within our vibrant local community we recognised and paid tribute to our fellow citizens who have contributed to a better nation; volunteers and professionals alike; from the local netball coach who has inspired generation of young girls to the ground-breaking medical researcher whose work has saved countless lives.

In this respect we are reminded that one of the things that has made our nation the success it is, is the pioneering efforts of those selfless people that work to help others.

The Rotary Clubs, the SES, our sporting organisations and so many more who do so much for so many with so little fanfare.

This Australia Day my thoughts were focussed particularly on our CFA volunteers; not just because of the outstanding job they do, but because something was missing for them and all of us this Australia Day.

And that was Don Bigham.

CFA icon, down to earth farmer, loving family man, tireless community contributor, passionate Australian.

Each describes Don.

This quintessential Australian who passed away suddenly a couple of weeks ago did so much for so many for so long.

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