Residents in aged care and defence force personnel have been praised in Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Christmas message, as he reflected on a torrid 2020.
Residents in aged care and defence force personnel have been praised in Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Christmas message, as he reflected on a torrid 2020.

‘It’s been terribly hard’: PM’s message to Aussies

Residents in aged care and defence force personnel have received a special mention in Scott Morrison's Christmas message, as the Prime Minister reflected on a torrid 2020.

Australia suffered a relentless 12 months, ushered in with cities blanketed in smoke as bushfires raged across the country.

The unusually intense Black Summer burnt more than 18 million hectares, destroyed more than 5000 properties and killed 34 people.

But by the time Australia emerged from the devastation, a new emergency had arrived on its shores.

The first case of COVID-19 in Australia was confirmed in January, with the virus going on to claim more than 900 Australian lives, devastate businesses and force Melbourne into a gruelling three-month lockdown.

 

In his annual Christmas message, Mr Morrison said 2020 had brought "stress and a lot of uncertainty" to all Australians, but lauded their stoicism in the face of the crises.

"Australians are an amazing people with an amazing spirit. And this year the Australian spirit has shone brightly again. Through it all, once again, we have rallied to each other, together," he said.

"Some of us have faced the loss of loved ones. Others, the loss of jobs and their livelihoods, separation from family, isolation during lockdowns, and lost gatherings with those we love.

"Though we had to be distant socially, emotionally we connected and turned to each other."

Although the Prime Minister said "everyone played their part" in keeping Australia going, he gave particular mention to elderly Australians in aged care and their carers.

More than 700 Australians in aged care have lost their lives during the pandemic, while restrictions meant many faced limited interactions with loved ones.

Australia’s aged care residents have been on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic. Picture: Sarah Matray
Australia’s aged care residents have been on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic. Picture: Sarah Matray

Mr Morrison said their sacrifice had kept the virus at bay.

"They have really endured a lot this year, with visits limited and the loss of hugs and kisses and visits from the company of family. It's been terribly hard," he said.

"This year we saw you draw on that well of strength that you have displayed over your entire lifetime. And in doing so, you kept others safe."

In a separate message for Australia's defence personnel, Mr Morrison paid tribute to thousands of Australian Defence Force members who were on the frontline throughout 2020.

ADF was dispatched to combat the Black Summer fire, while 1500 are currently active as part of Operation Assist COVID-19.

The Prime Minister praised ADF members as the "shining lights of our country", saying they had answered Australia's call at home and abroad.

"Your service, your choices, your life embodies not only who we are, but who we can be: strong, courageous, selfless, driven by our love of family, community and, of course, country," he said.

ADF members celebrate Christmas abroad. Picture: Supplied
ADF members celebrate Christmas abroad. Picture: Supplied

"This Christmas I really want to honour your service, your choices, your abiding and selfless patriotism."

The Afghan war crimes report was released in November, finding evidence there were 39 murders of Afghan civilians and prisoners committed by Australian SAS soldiers.

The report prompted soul-searching among the ADF hierarchy, but the Prime Minister assured Australia's servicemen and women their standing was undiminished.

"The respect that Australians feel for our Defence Force men and women and our veterans is earned. You've earned it through your service," he said.

"That cannot be taken away from you and never should. We respect and give thanks for the life of service that you have chosen."

Labor leader Anthony Albanese joked 2020 should "get in the bin" in his annual message.

"This year, more than most years, Christmas comes not just as a joy but a relief," he said.

"It's been a tough year. But Australians have risen to the challenge. Especially our essential workers: the nurses, cleaners, supermarket workers and the teachers who had to find new ways to teach.

"Australians stood together. We helped each other. And we're getting through this together."

Originally published as 'It's been terribly hard': PM's message to Aussies


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