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HAVE YOUR SAY

Australia Day: Northern beaches residents speak out

Local News
  OUR SAY: (top row) Maddie Spencer, Hayden Quinn, Ali Daddo, (middle row) Jason Falinski, Zali Steggall, James Griffin, (bottom row) Rob Stokes, Jonathan O'Dea and Jackson Borg share what Australia Day means to them.

INNOVATION, diversity, a unique sense of humour and a beach lifestyle - Australia means many things to many people.

In the lead up to this Australia Day we sat down with a few familiar faces to ask them if Australia is still the lucky country. They also shared what this island nation means to them, and what could make it even better.

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Let us know what Australia and Australia Day means to you by emailing editor@northernbeachesreview.com.au.

NSW Ironman - Jackson Borg

Is Australia still the lucky country?

Definitely. We're just so lucky to have so many resources so close to where we live. Even though we have been locked down during all this COVID, we're still lucky that we haven't had too many people, compared to other countries, being harshly affected by it and we've been able to keep generally save. There's also the lifestyle we're able to live, we're super lucky that we can go to the beach or play rugby, we've just got so many community sports that we've got access to.

What says Australia to you?

You could go stereotypical here and say 'Tim Tams and Vegemite', but for me Australia is definitely being down at the beach doing patrols and being able to be so close to the water.

How could we make Australia better?

I'm pretty happy with how it is at the moment. I really can't complain. We're pretty lucky on the northern beaches that anything that is wrong with Australia we're not too affected by it.

Celebrity chef, TV presenter - Hayden Quinn

  Hayden Quinn. Picture: Geoff Jones (Click on image for more information)

Is Australia still the lucky country?

Of course it is, it's the best country in the world and we should all be very, very grateful and happy to live here. We are surrounded by beauty - beautiful people, beautiful spaces, beautiful environment, beautiful beaches and beautiful country. We are very lucky.

What says Australia to you?

Sun, beaches, dust, hot chips, chocolate paddle pops, diversity and laughs.

How could we make Australia better?

Just be kind to each other.

Cover girl, podcaster, author - Ali Daddo

  Ali Daddo. Picture: Geoff Jones (Click on image for more information)

Is Australia still the lucky country?

In so many ways, yes we are still the lucky country, the land we live on is stunning and needs to be preserved. There is a level of safety here that our children can enjoy, and who can beat our beaches.

What says Australia to you?

It's our willingness to help, to be a friend, share a laugh with our unique sense of humour and to make a nickname out of everything.

How could we make Australia better?

By honouring our first peoples, teaching the true history of Australia and learning and listening to what Indigenous people have to share about this country and how to care for it.

NSW Ironwoman - Maddie Spencer

  Champion lifesaver Maddie Spencer and Jackson Borg are members of Newport Surf Life Saving Club. Picture: Geoff Jones

Is Australia still the lucky country?

Definitely. I've done a lot of travel for work in the last few years overseas, and there is nowhere better then coming back home to the northern beaches of Sydney. It's the laid back lifestyle, the culture, the attitude and morning coffees followed by beach ocean swims.

What says Australia to you?

It's hard to go past the whole beach and coastal culture.

How could we make Australia better?

Being an ocean person, conserving the ocean is important to me and using keep cups, but Australia is pretty bloody good. It's God's country, what more could you want.

State MP for Pittwater - Rob Stokes

  Pittwater MP Rob Stokes. Picture: Geoff Jones

Is Australia still the lucky country?

Absolutely! We have freedom, opportunity, and live in a safe and prosperous society which supports our most vulnerable. We have the best beaches, the best national parks and an incredibly diverse environment that's accessible to all. It doesn't get any better.

What says Australia to you?

Community, togetherness, inclusion and volunteering. Dorothea Mackellar's poem My Country also sums it up very nicely (plus Vegemite!).

How could we make Australia better?

This is the ultimate and perpetual question that actually helps make Australia so special. As Australians we should never stop asking or answering this question. For me, my thoughts always steer towards improved opportunities for all, enhanced sustainability and respect and understanding of others.

State MP for Manly - James Griffin

  Manly MP James Griffin. Picture: Simon Bennett

Is Australia still the lucky country?

It sure is! A little bit of luck alongside our resilience and industriousness are attributes that we share as a nation. It might sit beneath our relaxed exterior, but it's there. It makes us competitive on the global stage, no matter what the endeavour or challenge may be.

What says Australia to you?

Vastness. Vast in a physical sense and vast in a cultural sense. We have wide open coastlines and rugged outback. We also have a vast collection of people, cultures and outlooks that make up the great Australian experiment.

How could we make Australia better?

Our remoteness means we sometimes lose perspective on how good we have it. I think we should make more big budget blockbuster films that tell Australian stories. Hollywood has nothing on the rich history and stories that we can tell about our country. We should do a better job of that.

State MP for Davidson - Jonathan O'Dea

  Davidson MP Jonathan O'Dea. Picture: Jeff de Pasquale

Is Australia still the lucky country?

Yes it is. We are blessed with a clever, creative population with rich diversity. Australians are direct about their own values, but they respect different opinions. This is a prosperous and future facing country where people peacefully share unity and freedom under stable government.

What says Australia to you?

The many small acts of kindness and humanity evident as we faced unprecedented challenges over the last two years.

How could we make Australia better?

We should encourage innovation and creativity, while sustainably capitalising on our natural strengths. In doing so, it is important to properly consider the interests of vulnerable people and the legacy we leave future generations.

Federal MP for Mackellar - Jason Falinski

  Mackellar MP Jason Falinski. Picture: Geoff Jones

Is Australia still the lucky country?

Yes, because we have so much to look forward to and so little to fear.

What says Australia to you?

Cochlear hearing implants because it was an innovative, solution, it was high tech. It made a practical difference and most importantly no one else could have done it. It literally saved tens of thousands of lives.

How could we make Australia better?

By being less judgemental and more curious.

Federal MP for Warringah - Zali Steggall

  Zali Steggall. Picture: Simon Bennett (Click on image for more information)

Is Australia still the lucky country?

This depends so much on your perspective. For our indigenous people, we don't yet have a commitment by the government to hold a referendum, and they have still not accepted the Uluu Statement From the Heart. We've done well in the scheme of the world - with COVID - but we've all made a lot of sacrifices and given up a lot of liberties. The pandemic has shown that the divides in our society are becoming greater. Still compared to the Afghan athletes we helped out of Kabul, then yes, we are the lucky country. It's dumb luck to be born here. We have a responsibility to work hard to make it lucky for more people. As a society we have boundless potential and opportunity. We need to live up to that and be brave and bold in our choices.

What says Australia to you?

Green and gold. I can't help but think back to my proud sporting days, representing Australia at four Olympic Games. And in 2021, the Tokyo Olympics was the silver lining of lockdown, bursting through like a ray of sunshine through the groundhog day feel of lockdown. We could unite from afar, watching Australian athletes do great things from our lounge rooms. Our friends overseas love how we don't take ourselves too seriously and are always being up for a challenge. I love that about us too.

How could we make Australia better?

By being honest about our strengths and our weaknesses and embracing our opportunities. We must learn from the past without letting it hold us back. Right now, one way we can do this is by embracing our big chance to be a renewable energy superpower. We've got to catch the new wave of opportunities! We can and must do the things that seem difficult. In my history, they said there is no way an Australian is going to be a world ski champion, there's no way you're going to get elected - people always say that a task is too difficult or daunting to achieve. But if we focus on what and who we want to be, set brave and bold goals, anything is possible.

Have something to say? Send a letter to the editor at: editor@northernbeachesreview.com.au

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