This is the time of year that most of our hearts, thoughts and sentiments are with our families and friends. A time to reflect on the achievements of the past 12 months and to prepare for the new year. Christmas, however can be a time of great sorrow for others. Amongst of all the celebrations, I encourage you to spare a thought for those who are worse off than ourselves.
A few examples for me are... the debacle exacerbated by the allied forces in Iraq seems to have encouraged some of the worst elements of religious bigotry and nationalistic fervour imaginable. I am at a loss to know how we can move on as a nation, reverse our warring attitudes and demonstrate genuine concern and love. The people we fight have suffered far too much.
Our Indigenous Australians continue to be marginalised and a new fresh approach to their issues and concerns must be taken so as to allow their aspirations to be realised.
David Hicks should not be held, in an unconstitutional facility, without an opportunity to defend himself. His plight in solitary confinement, without being charged, is a disgrace to the so-called civilised world. The failure of the Australian Government to offer any support or assistance, as shown by the UK to its detainees, is a failure to uphold the value of human rights. He is now quite unlikely to cause anyone a fraction of the harm being meted out on him. What lessons do we give to our children?
Afghanistan families who suffered persecution and hardship to reach safe shores were not to know their persecution would continue in camps within (and outside) Australia.
Global warming is rapidly changing the landscape and fragile ecology of the planet with its disastrous effects on many of the worlds poorer people. This however is a phenomenon that will effect us all.
Whatever our various political persuasions, Australia deserves a compassionate and capable government and an affective and informed opposition. Let us hope that the current leadership in all major parties can attain good governance – leadership about which we can despair less.
I invite you to spare a thought for David Hicks and the many thousands like him in oppressive conditions around the world at Christmas. Thanks again for everything you contributed in 2006. Have a safe and refreshing break and be at ready to face an exciting and challenging new year.