PRIME MINISTER:Christmas is a time of love.
The embrace of our family, old friendshipsrefound, the delight of children, the mystery and joy ofthe divine – surely this is a wondrous time of year.
Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus – and his message of unconditional love and sacrifice.
Whether we are of any faith, or of none, it is love – forgiving, generous, never judging,unconditional, that brings us closest to the very best wecan be.
In Australia, we have much to be grateful,not least that so many people of so many different backgrounds, races and religions live togetherhere in a harmony founded on mutual respect.
We also remember those who find Christmasdifficult – the lonely, the poor, the sick, and those whoare away from families.
Reach out to them where you can and rememberthose charities that help the homeless and otherswhose Christmas is not as joyous as our own.
Of course, many Australians continue to workvery hard over the break, including those who keep ussafe.
Our emergency services personnel, the police,fire and ambulance services, our doctors and nurseskeep working while most of us relax.
We can make it easier for them and safer forus by driving carefully, preparing for the bushfire andcyclone season, if we live in those areas, and by taking good care of each other.
And we are ever thankful to those Australians serving in our armed forces, whether hereor overseas.
Being away from family is hard andespecially at Christmas.
Your nation is grateful for the courage, tenacityand skill with which you defend our freedom and ourvalues.
We all look forward, as your families do, to your safe return.
From Lucy and me, and our family, to you and yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmasand a relaxing and safe holiday.
And may 2017 be filled with peace, happiness and love.