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29 January, 2021

Appreciating our lucky country

I am a supporter of changing the date of Australia Day, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate it on a different day. As Australians we are incredibly lucky and have much to celebrate.

By Tanya Murphy

To begin with Australia is home to the oldest continuous living culture on the planet, who have loved, respected and cared for this land for 65,000 years.

Out of 167 countries in the world, we are rated ninth in the world Democracy Index which indicates that we are, as the anthem says, relatively “free” (though not as free as our Kiwi friends across the ditch, rated fourth).

We are also the 17th richest country in the world according to the International Monetary Fund’s 2020 estimates of gross domestic product (at purchasing power parity) per capita. The United Kingdom is 25th, proving we were well served by cutting ties and achieving our independence in 1901 so that we can keep our ‘wealth for toil.’

We have access to free education, public health, housing, and a social welfare system that acts as a safety net to pick us up when we fall on hard times.

The year 2020 was an excellent example of how lucky we are, as many of us did fall upon hard times during the global pandemic of COVID-19, and had to rely on government assistance to survive.

In our country many people are particularly sentimental about the story of the “Jolly swagman” who resorted to stealing sheep because he was down on his luck. The pandemic was a good reminder that everyone gets down on their luck sometimes and needs a helping hand to get back on their feet. It’s a reminder to be kind and generous to those modern-day swagmen – the poor, disadvantaged and homeless in our society.

Seeing other countries struggling with the out-of-control pandemic, we can certainly be grateful to live in a country where most people did the right thing, stayed home when asked, practiced social distancing, used masks and sanitiser, got tested, and did everything else required to keep the virus at bay.

My friends in other countries are blown away when they learn that here in Cairns we can go to work, bars, parties, weddings and more while many of them cannot. We are incredibly lucky.

From the diggers who fought to protect our country in wartime, to the firefighters battling last year’s catastrophic bushfires, to the health workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic, Australians routinely step up when duty calls and put the safety of others before their own when faced with a crisis. It is their courage and sacrifice that we can be grateful for on our National Day.

During the pandemic, Australians from every walk of life have pulled together and made sacrifices to protect and help others. So whether it was working in an essential job, volunteering for a good cause, or simple “staying at home” when it was asked, whatever you have done to help your fellow Aussies, you are the spirit of mateship, fairness, and all the qualities that make us lucky to be Australian. That certainly is worth celebrating.


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