These words were spoken during a citizenship ceremony in Canberra last Thursday: Australia Day. I've been thinking about what he said a lot since. His words resonate deeply with me. I find them both profound and inspirational.
January 26, 1788, was the day the First Fleet, led by the incomparable Captain Arthur Phillip, arrived in Sydney Cove and raised the British flag over a new penal colony. With a simple ceremony the British empire claimed another piece of 'empty' land as their own.
January 26, 1788, was the day the white man came and dispossessed the Aboriginal inhabitants, ushering in a long period of human rights abuses against them. A number of Australians now call January 26, "Invasion Day" - not a day for celebration, but a day for mourning.
While the debate rages around me, I mostly avoid it and continue to celebrate Australia Day because I love my country, and I, as the PM stated, believe in our future. I understand and 'own' Australia's history, and the plight of Indigenous Australians fills me with regret and sadness, but I am not responsible for what happened. I am responsible for how I treat people now. I believe we can find our way to true reconciliation so I focus on all the good things.This is a great country. It is my home. I was born here, and I am thankful for that.