The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have delivered Christmas messages to the people of Australia.
John Howard’s Christmas message adhered strictly to the political messages he has crafted over nearly 10 years in office, emphasising the generosity of Australia’s overseas aid response and lauding the work of non-government welfare agencies.
The Liberal leader also referred to the significance of Jesus Christ and family life. An intriguing insight into Howard’s political approach can be seen in his departure from the prepared speech distributed by his office. In the televised version he simply refers to “the birth of a man”, whereas the prepared text says “the birth of Jesus Christ”. Whilst keen to support religious values, Howard rarely does so in an overt manner.
As he has done in recent years, Howard called on Australians to think of the members of the Defence Forces. In a continuing sign of the presidentialisation of his position, Howard included his wife, Janette, in his concluding remarks which also echoed his election themes of strength and prosperity.
Kim Beazley reprised the ALP’s message on industrial relations in emphasising the work ethic of Australians and the importance of time for families at Christmas. In the wake of the passage of the anti-terrorism legislation, the Leader of the Opposition also referred to the importance of the values of tolerance, freedom, generosity and respect.
Text of the Christmas Message from the Prime Minister, John Howard.
2005 has seen the good heart of Australia very much on display. Our generous, overwhelming response to the tragic tsunami, the great work of our Defence medical teams in Aceh and more recently the wonderful work of our Army medical teams in Kashmir, helping the victims of the Pakistani earthquake, have demonstrated that this is a generous, outward looking nation willing to share the good fortune that life has given us with those who are less fortunate.
2005 has been a year of great achievement and progress for our country. But we should remember there are still many within our midst who haven’t enjoyed life to the full. We must continue to do what we can to help them and at Christmas we think of the wonderful work of organisations, such as the Salvation Army, the Wesley Mission and the Society of St Vincent de Paul who reach out to give assistance to those in great need.
Christmas of course celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, a man whose life and example has given us a value system which remains the greatest force for good in our community. Christmas is a time for families to get together, to see old friends, to think of the good times and the good fortune life has given us. And in properly celebrating Christmas and enjoying that good fortune we should spare a thought for the lonely in our community, without family and without friends, for whom Christmas can be a particularly hard time.
At Christmas I know many of you will think of the families of the men and women of the Australian Defence Forces who are serving the interests of our nation abroad, and who can’t celebrate Christmas with their families like the rest of us.
Janette joins me in wishing all of you a peaceful and happy Christmas. Enjoy it and I look forward to a strong and prosperous New Year for all of us in 2006.
Text of the Christmas Message from the Leader of the Opposition, Kim Beazley.
Christmas and the Holiday Season are a wonderful time of year when families and friends come together.
Australians are the hardest workers in the world and this time with family and friends is particularly precious.
Our tough work ethic throughout the rest of the year results in Australians placing even greater value on this special time with family and friends.
Time with family is sacrosanct and must never be undermined.
Christmas is a time of giving and a time to be grateful for the things we hold dear as Australians – our tolerance, our freedom, our generosity and our respect for one another.
I urge all Australians to mark Christmas by reinforcing these unique Australian values of tolerance, freedom, generosity and respect – particularly with our young people.
The greatest gift that one generation can give to the next is an understanding of the values that make our society great.
My message to all Australians this Christmas is: Be proud of the values that make us uniquely Australian and take the time to pass on those values to your children.
Finally, I wish all Australians a safe and joyous Christmas. Make the most of the time to rest and recuperate and renew bonds with family and friends.
And may the New Year deliver all that you wish.