We live in the greatest country in the world. We’re not perfect, but our kids grow up with more opportunities, greater freedoms and more reasons to be optimistic than in any nation I could care to name. Our success has always been about getting the balance right and maintaining a positive outlook. Australians have never been fussed about trying to impress people overseas or respond to what others tell us we should think or what we should do. We have always made our own decisions in Australia. We always believe we can get the job done and we rarely, if ever, walk away wondering. Whatever our trials, whatever disasters have befallen us, we have never succumbed to panic. And we will not do this now in the face of the current fire crisis. We are a resourceful, resilient, hard working and tolerant nation, with a courageous and generous community spirit. This is currently on great display from our volunteer firefighters. Our sense of humour and groundedness has always helped us to draw together and overcome whatever challenges we have faced. We must protect this and hold fast to the spirit of optimism that has always defined our national character. The generations of Australians that went before us, including our First Australians, also faced natural disasters, floods, fires, global conflicts, disease and drought. They also faced extreme economic hardship that current generations have never experienced in Australia. Like previous generations, we have always known that Australia is not immune to what is happening more broadly around the world. Today we know this includes the impact of global climate change. As in times past, we will carry our share of the global burden with a practical determination. And as always, we will get the balance right in Australia’s interests. So, as we enter into 2020, let us celebrate what has contributed to our success more than anything else – our optimistic, overcoming and independent Aussie spirit. And let’s use that spirit in 2020 as we continue to battle the terrible drought and fires that have ravaged our country and pursue the many other goals that will make our country even stronger and more resilient. This starts with strengthening our economy in the face of global uncertainty and the impact of natural disasters. To create even more jobs, to ensure that the Government lives within its means by delivering the first surplus in twelve years, so we can finally start paying down debt, and relieve the burden on future generations. To enable Australians to keep more of what they earn now by delivering lower taxes to meet costs of living. To protect the prosperity of Australians, not just what they earn each week, but the wealth they have saved for and built up to support themselves. To build the transport and water infrastructure Australia needs, with so many major projects now underway and more to come. To back our businesses to compete, earn more and increase wages, through less red tape, working with the States to fix our skills development and training systems and providing more trade opportunities, including new deals with the UK and the European Union. A stronger economy will enable us to continue to guarantee the essential services that Australians rely on. In particular in 2020 we will be confronting the many challenges in aged care. Our Royal Commission into disability services will continue as we roll out the NDIS to hundreds of thousands more Australians. We will once again deliver record funding for schools and hospitals. Our work will continue with Indigenous leaders and communities on the practical issues of closing the gap. And we will continue leading our mission to combat suicide, whether among our veterans, Indigenous, young Australians or any Australian struggling with mental health. We will keep Australians safe by boosting our defence spending to 2 per cent of GDP and by building and keeping in good order our network of alliances and partnerships throughout our Indo-Pacific region. In a few weeks time I will be in India and Japan for this very reason. At home, our intelligence and law enforcement agencies, all funded at record levels, will work to protect Australians from terrorism, keep our borders secure and our kids safe from sexual predators, especially online. At the same time, as promised, we will act to outlaw religious discrimination in Australia. In 2020 we will meet and beat our Kyoto emissions reduction targets and continue to take action on climate change, welcoming record investment in new renewable energy technologies to meet and beat our Paris commitments in 2030. But we won’t destroy the livelihoods of Australians in the process by adopting reckless targets that force up electricity prices, now coming down under our policies, or by turning our backs on traditional industries that are especially important in regional Australia, as proposed by Labor and the Greens. This year we will also take forward our plans for Australia to become a world leader in waste management and recycling, protecting our environment and creating more jobs. Our ban on export of plastics, glass and tyre waste will come into effect and we will work with other nations to get the plastics out of our oceans. As always there will be unforeseen challenges and we will respond to them in our usual calm and stable way. Our goal is simple, to enable all Australians to get on with their lives in the greatest country in the world and plan for their future with confidence. So, as we start 2020, let’s remind ourselves of what makes us such a great nation. The efforts and contribution of millions of quiet, decent Australians working hard to realise their aspirations for themselves and their families. Let 2020 be another year of Australians living optimistically. From me and Jenny and our family to yours, have a happy new year Australia. Published in the Herald Sun.