Address National Student Leadership Forum

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Early Release of the June Quarter 2003 National Accounts
August 15, 2003
Defence, Wilson Tuckey, COAG – Parliament House, Canberra
August 20, 2003
Early Release of the June Quarter 2003 National Accounts
August 15, 2003
Defence, Wilson Tuckey, COAG – Parliament House, Canberra
August 20, 2003

Address National Student Leadership Forum




3.45 PM

Thank you very much Guy, and Jock, and all of the people

who run this wonderful forum, it really is impressive to see young

Australians who are interested in faith and values and the Parliament,

and for old hands like me it gives us a lot of enthusiasm to see that

there are young people in Australia who care so deeply about these


Earlier on this year I was standing on the shores of

Anzac Cove on Anzac Day, it was 4.30 in the morning and was extremely

cold. I didn’t know if the Australian backpackers would come to the

ceremony because there had been a media alert with Al Qaida operatives

within Turkey there might be dangers. And as I stood in the dark I

wondered whether the young Australians would come in the numbers that

they have come in years gone by to commemorate the Anzac landing on

the 25th of April 1915.

I can’t tell you the sense of elation that I felt as

the light came across the Aegean Sea and lit up first, ten metres

in front of me, then 20 metres in front of me, 30 metres in front

of me. And I looked out and I saw there were ten thousand young backpackers

that had come by bus from Istanbul, stayed up all night, many of them

standing, many of them with the Australian flag wrapped around their

shoulders to commemorate a military defeat which had happened nearly

90 years ago.

And that day as I spoke to many of those young Australians

who were 19 and 20, I asked them why they were there. Like me, they

all wanted to get a feeling of what values had taken young Australians

nearly 90 years ago around the world to a place they had never heard

of, many of them died. You can’t help but feel as you walk amongst

the headstones, you see people who were 18 or 19 years of age who

fell in a country a long way from our shores, because they believed

in something. What was it? What was it that they believed in? And

what was it that motivated them? And I think that is why Australians

go back to that area of the world to try and ask themselves the same

question – what is it that motivates me? What are the values? Are

our values the kind of values that would allow us to measure up to

the 19 and 20 year olds of 1915?

I guess I would just like to leave you with two thoughts

as you approach this seminar. The first is, you can’t go through life

without any faith or values, you have got to have something that will

motivate you from the inside, something that will help you fit all

of life’s experiences into some kind of understanding. And if you

don’t think about that you will pick up someone else’s faith or values

along the line, they will become your motivating factors, or if you

can’t find any at all, you might lose hope in life as far too many

young people in our society do.

The second point I would like to leave you with is, not

all values are equal. You have probably heard the expression post-modernism,

it says, look everything is equal, it doesn’t matter what you believe,

as long as you believe something. I don’t think that is right.

You would have seen yesterday, the big explosion in Jerusalem,

maybe like me you watched the TV and you have seen video of the suicide

bomber who did that. He was holding a rifle in one hand and a Koran

in another. He had faith and he had values, you can’t deny that. He

probably had more faith than all of us put together. But were they

the right values? What sort of values would lead someone to engage

in a terrorist attack? That’s an extreme case, but I am trying to

illustrate that not all values are the right values. One of the values

that we like to start off with, particularly in our society with the

ethic and the faith background that we come from is the value of life

over death. That is why we react in horror to terrorism, but there

are some extremist groups that don’t have that value, that think there

is some kind of glory in death or terror.

So as you go through life, you will have to find faith

and values and not all faith and not all values will be equally noticeable.

It is something that you will have to confront, each one of you, in

your own lives. And if those values can pick you up and sustain you

in a life of service to others, that affirms life, that enlarges life,

so much better in my view. They are my values, not necessarily everybody’s,

but so much better in my view.

You are a very privileged generation, you are living

in one of the richest countries in the world at its richest time.

Australians have never been as wealthy as they are today in material

terms, you are a blessed generation. You have knowledge at your fingertips

which your forebears could not imagine. One of the reasons why many

of them went to Gallipoli was, it was their chance to get out of the

country. You can go there on a website, you can see it, you can fly

there, you can come home again. You don’t have to go away for four

or five years to war to see the other side of the world. And you are

well educated. I know that because I go and speak in schools a lot

and the questions I get asked are much harder than the questions I

get from any journalist around this place.

You are rich, you are well informed, you are highly educated,

you have massive potential. And if you can harness the engine room

of the faith and values to direct that, you will make a great contribution

and our country will be in safe hands. Thank you.