On the 8th of February 2022, a historic service for the Commencement of Federal Parliament was held at the Greek Orthodox Church St Nicholas in Canberra.
The event was organised by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia.
The Prime Minister talked about the event in an interview and stated the following:
Good morning, everyone. I always enjoy at the start of the Parliamentary year that we can come together in this way, and I particularly want to thank Archbishop Makarios who I know very well, and Jenny knows, and to see him here this morning was great. It was particularly nice to be here in a, in a Orthodox Church today. First time we’ve done that, and it reminded me, as we consider some of the big issues of today and the Parliamentary year, that people from all around the world have come to our country. And they’ve so often come from many different faiths and many different backgrounds. They’ve come from places where they were discriminated against for that faith and for that belief. And as Bishop Tarabay from the Maronite Church often reminds me, so many of those who came from Lebanon, in particular, came here because they wanted to get away from the persecution and discrimination that they suffered in their home country.
For so many Australians, their faith and their religion is their culture. You can’t separate them. And when you listen to their stories, as I often do, they will tell stories over hundreds of years and even longer about how they as a, as a people of faith and religion have survived through some of the worst things you can possibly imagine in countries all around the world. But they came here to Australia so they could get away from that and they could start a new life. And so they could have their religious faith and they could have their belief and they could have their community and they could have their culture, and that they would not be discriminated against. I don’t want them to be discriminated against, and before the last election I said I wanted there to be laws in place that ensured their freedom from that discrimination. And that’s what this is about.
There are many other laws in our Parliament, many other laws that deal with many other things. And there’s time and place to deal with those. But on this day, it’s important that we remember that for so many Australians – it doesn’t matter whether you’re Hindu, whether you’re Sikh, whether you’re Christian, whether you’re Muslim, whether you’re Jewish, whether you have, choose to have no religious faith at all – that is also important to protect this country because we sing, ‘Australians all one and free’. And I hope that means something today as we gather together and we seek to put in place the opportunity for those who wish to live their religion here in this country and live their faith, which has such an important contribution to our country and always has – binding Australia together, not forcing it apart. This is why I made that pledge before the last election, and that is why I continue to stand very strongly on this point.
Now this will be a year where we will be faced with some very big choices. We’ll begin the Parliament this year by acknowledging the terrible events that have taken place in our own Parliament, and that began an important conversation in this country about how Australia can be better when it comes particularly to the treatment of women in our workplaces, in our society and in our lives.
But today is a time of prayer and reflection before we begin what will be, I think, a very important year for Australia, on which our future will be determined. And for our Government, it’s about keeping Australians in a place where our economy is strong, we’re keeping Australians safe and we’re keeping Australians together. And with that, I’m happy to answer a few questions.