“From the floods up in north Queensland earlier this year to the drought that continues to ravage the country for years now and of course the bushfires that have been raging since September, despite all of these challenges, Australians have stood up, Australians have shown tremendous spirit, and have responded,” Mr Morrison said.
Both Mr Morrison and Mr Albanese described Australia as the “best country” on earth despite the bushfire crisis, which has burnt through about 4 million hectares since September.
“The thing that makes [Australia] the greatest country on earth is our people,” Mr Albanese said as he stood in front of a fire truck in Sydney’s Baulkham Hills. “Our people are resilient. Our people are courageous. Our people are committed to each other and to their local communities”.
The Prime Minister thanked those patrolling beaches, fighting fires and delivering aid to the homeless for their contributions to the country.
He said his thoughts would be especially with the families of Geoffrey Keaton and Andrew O’Dwyer, the two RFS members killed in a motor vehicle accident on the Green Wattle Creek fireground south-west of Sydney last week.
“To Andrew and Geoff’s parents we know this is going to be a tough Christmas for you this year, the first one without both of those amazing men,” Mr Morrison said.
And Mr Albanese gave a “huge shout-out” to people who had fought fires, saying they had done themselves and the nation proud.
In a separate recorded message, the Prime Minister thanked Australians serving in the Australian Defence Force, more than 1500 of whom will spend Christmas overseas, “upholding our nations’ interests, defending our values, keeping us safe and putting yourselves at risk to do so,” Mr Morrison said. “I can’t thank you enough for it.”