Alister Henskens portrait
Alister Henskens portrait

Australia Day 2021

Alister Henskens SC MP with Edward Giles, Wendy Carver, Bexon Whang

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai) (18:52): Australia Day is a day when we pause to reflect on the great qualities of our nation. It is a day we acknowledge our history, and celebrate our diverse and ever‑changing country. We have so much to be thankful for, and it is remarkable to think that this time last year our State was in the midst of a bushfire crisis. This summer we had another crisis. It has been just over a year since COVID-19 reached our shores and our Aussie spirit has never been more visible. When the northern beaches cluster emerged just before Christmas our State was put back on high alert. I praise the amazing northern beaches community solidarity which, after enduring weeks of lockdown and additional restrictions, helped our State avert a major COVID‑19 outbreak. I acknowledge the work of my impacted colleagues, the members for the electorates of Manly, Pittwater, Wakehurst and Davidson. To have gone 24 days without any community transmission as of today is a remarkable achievement.

Despite some restrictions that were in place we were still able to gather in person to celebrate Australia Day this year. I was fortunate to attend the Ku-ring-gai Council citizenship and awards ceremony as well as the Hornsby Shire Council Citizenship Ceremony along with my State and Federal parliamentary colleagues, councillors and the broader community. Each year I am amazed by the generous spirit of our local citizens who make outstanding contributions to our community. I acknowledge the following recipients of the 2021 Ku‑ring‑gai Community Australia Day Awards. I congratulate Kissing Point Sports Club, which was the joint winner of the award for Outstanding Contribution by a Community Organisation.

Since 1957 the club has been an integral part of the South Turramurra community and in 2020 alone it catered for more than 2,000 players. The second award for outstanding contribution by a community organisation went to Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury volunteer Christmas hamper coordinators. The Lifeline appeal has been run by local volunteers since 2008, supporting our most vulnerable. I commend both groups for promoting physical and mental wellbeing in what was a very distressing year for many in our community. I also note that Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury CEO Mrs Wendy Carver, OAM, received Australia Day Honours for her dedication to community mental health. I congratulate West Pymble resident Ella Di Moro on receiving the Young Environmental Citizen of the Year Award for her generosity and leadership in helping the local environment. Ella encourages gardening and composting in her neighbourhood, operating a free pantry from her home.

I commend Edward Giles, who in 2019 partnered with the council to implement and promote mental health resources and initiatives at his school, Killara High. Edward and his family have been known to me for most of his life. It is outstanding to see him grow into an influential voice for his peers and community and receive the Young Citizen of the Year award. The final award went to the Ku-ring-gai Citizen of the Year. I congratulate Pymble resident Michelle Key. She founded North Shore Mums Smiles2U, which became an official charity in December 2020. Smiles2U provides activity and care bags to children in local hospitals and care packages for parents staying at the Bear Cottage children's palliative care facility. I congratulate all nominees, as those recipients are only some of the many people who serve our community on a daily basis.

Following the awards, 93 people hailing from 24 countries around the world pledged their loyalty to Australia. It was an honour to share the event with everyone and to publicly recognise the steps that were taken. I had the opportunity to address the crowd, shining a light on our resilient nation and emphasising the importance of our democracy—something that I truly value. We should all be proud to be Australian. Afterwards I attended the Hornsby Shire Council citizenship ceremony. Hornsby Shire welcomed 80 new Australians from 24 countries on what was the perfect Aussie summer day. I thank all of our newest citizens across the State for choosing to call Australia home.

Three Ku-ring-gai residents in addition to Wendy Carver received Australia Day Honours. I acknowledge Mr Bexon Whang, OAM, from Wahroonga for his extraordinary service to veterans of the Korean War. Pymble resident Mrs Janet Kneeshaw became an OAM for her service to the performing arts and to the community. Professor Markus Seibel became an AM for his achievements and services in medical research and endocrinology. I greatly admire their community service and those honours are very well deserved. We are a nation that rewards hard work, values freedom and sticks together in hard times. We have much to celebrate.