PM’s Australia Day Speech Reflects on History, Warns of Rising ‘Authoritarianism’

January 26, 2021 Updated: January 26, 2021

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Australia Day praised the patience and resilience of Australians who, along with the rest of the world, endured under the strain of the CCP virus pandemic over the last year.

His speech covered Australia’s journey in overcoming its brutal beginnings 233 years ago to create and defend one of the most successful liberal democracies on earth.

But he also warned that Australia, which has been bolstering its defences and strengthening alliances against China, is now facing down a global threat of authoritarianism that is “once again seeking to push itself forward.”

The prime minister delivered the speech at flag raising and citizenship ceremony on Jan. 26 which was attended by the governor-general, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, ministers, the recipients of the Australian of the Year awards, and other dignitaries and bureaucrats.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison poses for a photo with new citizens during an Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony and Flag Raising event in Canberra, on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

“Today we reflect on how far we have come, but importantly we humbly acknowledge the work still ahead of us,” Morrison said. “We have risen above our brutal beginnings. We have overcome, survived and thrived. We have learned but yet we are still learning.”

In a year when the world has struggled due to economic and health impacts caused by lockdowns, layoffs, and COVID-19 clusters, Morrison said Australians who patiently did “the right thing” prevailed “in our own Australian way.”

He thanked the essential industry workers whose jobs enabled the country to pull through the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.

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Nurses are seen conducting COVID-19 tests at the Bondi Beach testing clinic in Sydney, Australia on Nov. 4, 2020. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

“Health workers collecting samples and tracing the virus; nurses, aged and disability care workers tending to our elderly and to our vulnerable; the medical teams, our defence forces, the police running our quarantine facilities; the farmers, and the truck drivers, the wholesale and the retail workers keeping our supermarket shelves stocked and all those even now working to produce our vaccine,” Morrison said.

“And, of course, the many business owners of Australia, small and large, struggling with the uncertainty of a pandemic, keeping their show together and Australians in work,” he added.

The prime minister praised the ability Australians to overcome and rise above their history.

“Today, on Australia Day we reflect on that journey, the price that has been paid for our freedom, the lessons of our history and the privilege of being able to call ourselves Australians,” he said.

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The Australian flag projected on the sails of the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia on Jan. 26, 2020. (Don Arnold/Getty Images)

Morrison said the stories of 25 million Australians are all important and unique and do not compete with each other, but “simply coexist” and weave together to create an Australian story.

“Our stories since that day have been of sorrow and of joy, of loss and redemption, of failure and success,” Morrison said. “Whether it is the story of our first nation peoples’ strong, ancient and proud culture and their survival in the face of dispossession and colonisation, or the forsaken souls who came as convicts, not to start a new world, but because they had been banished from the old one. Condemned and outcast by empire, they too overcame.”

Morrison acknowledged the settlers and waves of immigrants who sought Australia out to make a better life for themselves and their families. He also welcomed the 12,000 people from over 130 countries who became citizens on Jan. 26.

In a year when Australia will face many more challenges, Morrison called on Australians to exercise responsibility and make their own contributions to the country’s success in their communities, families, workplaces, schools, places of worship, and in nature.

“We do this, because in Australia we believe in the unique value of each Australian as individuals, rather than seeing or indeed allowing ourselves to be defined solely through the identity prism of our age, or our race, or our gender, our ethnicity or our religion,” Morrison said. “As Australians we are more than any and all of these things, and together we share and steward our Australian inheritance.”

“As Australians we write our own story. We create our own future. And we will do so again this year, together,” he said.

Follow Caden on Twitter: @cadenpearson