Australians will be looking forward to celebrating Christmas after a tough year in 2023 when many struggled to make ends meet as the cost of living rose, the federal coalition leader says.
“But despite the difficulties, Australians pressed on with characteristic resilience,” Peter Dutton said in a Christmas and New Year message on Sunday.
“The generosity and the efforts of our wonderful charity workers and volunteers epitomised the very best of our society.”
However, “abhorrent displays” of anti-Semitism marked a low point, Mr Dutton said, in the wake of the October 7 attack on southern Israel by the Islamist militant group Hamas.
“Christmas celebrates a historical fact: the birth of Jesus Christ,” he said.
“But whether we’re Christians or not, at Christmas we give thanks for the things that we hold dear in life: our family, our friends, our faith and our great fortune to be an Australian,” he said.
Mr Dutton also remembered those who lost loved ones in 2023, including the victims of the Gold Coast helicopter mid-air collision, the NSW Hunter Valley wedding party bus crash, the Dugald River mine accident, the Taipan helicopter disaster off Australia’s east coast, and the two police officers who were killed on duty in Wieambilla, Queensland.
This year also marked the passing of many well-known Australians, he added, including entertainer Barry Humphries, artist John Olsen and Liberal senator Jim Molan.
“I wish all Australians a happy, relaxing and safe Christmas in the company of family and friends,” Mr Dutton said.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Richard Marles and his defence portfolio colleagues – Pat Conroy, Matt Keogh and Matt Thistlewaite – have thanked Australian Defence Force members and families.
“People are the greatest capability of the ADF and we are eternally grateful for the hard work and sacrifices made by our serving personnel, their APS colleagues, friends and family,” the ministers said in a joint statement.
“We thank the friends and family feeling the absence of deployed personnel during this period.
“To those with an empty seat at the dinner table or setting up a video call with family and friends, we truly appreciate the sacrifices you make.”
The ministers also paid tribute to ADF personnel assisting with the northern Queensland flood effort, in support of state emergency services.