Fundamental Optimism - The National Character: Anthony Albanese
"A chance to show the very best of our national character – our fundamental optimism"
So said the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in a press conference announcing the wording of the referendum question for incorporating "The Voice" in the Australian Constitution.
Opening the Press Conference, the PM said, "The Uluru Statement from the Heart invites all Australians to walk together to a better future. Today, we take a very important step forward on that journey. After many months of careful consideration on the draft form of words that I presented at Garma last July, the Referendum Working Group and the Government have agreed on the provisions that all Australians will vote on in this year’s Referendum. I want to thank, sincerely, all the members of the Working Group and all who have engaged with them. For many, this moment has been a very long time in the making. Yet they have shown such patience and optimism through this process. And that spirit of co-operation and thoughtful, respectful dialogue has been so important at arriving at this point in such a united fashion."
He went on to say, "The Uluru Statement from the Heart – and this Referendum – also presents every Australian with a historic, democratic opportunity. A chance to show the very best of our national character – our fundamental optimism, our deep sense of fairness, our instinctive respect and kindness for each other. If not now, when? That is an opportunity that doesn’t belong to the politicians, it belongs to every Australian. One person, one vote. People from all faiths, backgrounds and traditions. All of us will have an equal say. All of us can own an equal share of what I believe will be an inspiring and unifying Australian moment."
Out of interest, I did not recall anyone using the term "fundamental optimism" and have today, added it to my list of optimism superpowers. It's a powerful evocative term.
Checking back through my book "Optimism: The How and Why", I found related references:
Nelson Mandela famously said, "I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed towards the sun, one’s feet moving forward."
The author Alice Boer told me “the act of seeking change, and undertaking action is itself a fundamental act of optimism.”
Other References to the Optimism of Australians by the Prime Minister
On the weekend of the 2022 election, the then-PM-elect said "I want to lead a government that has the same sentiment of optimism and hope that defines the Australian people. I want to be positive and channel the opportunity we have to shape change, so we bring people with us on the journey of change."
In an essay published on Australia Day 2023, Anthony Albanese wrote, "Today we welcome new citizens joining us in the great Australian family. In choosing Australia as their home, they are embracing the values and qualities we hold dear: our belief in opportunity for all, the respect we have for hard work, the optimism that drives our aspiration and the Australian instinct for fairness, decency and care and respect for each other. Australians uphold these qualities every day, in good times and bad. As we've also seen in times of pandemic, fire, drought and the recent devastating floods, the worst of circumstances bring out the best in our people. If there is an upside to tough times, it is that they have shown us we can be confident that whatever challenges the future brings, Australians will rise to meet them. In our joys, our blessings and our hard-won triumphs, we celebrate what we have. Just as importantly, we celebrate what we can be: the even greater Australia that is at our fingertips."
In his 2022 Ministerial Statement on "Closing the Gap", the PM said, "Reconciliation relies on what I believe are innate qualities of our national character: optimism, decency, generosity of spirit."
In his speech to the National Press Club and referring to the proposed referendum on "The Voice", the Prime Minister said, "moments of national decision, such as this referendum, are also an opportunity for our people to show their best qualities: their generosity, their sense of fairness, their optimism for the future. That’s why I’m optimistic for the success of the referendum – because I’ve always been optimistic about the character of the Australian people."
With President Biden and PM Sunak at the Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego announcing the AUKUS Submarine Agreement, Anth9ony Albanese said,"We embark with great confidence in the capacity and creativity of our people. With optimism in the power of what our partnership can achieve. And with an unwavering conviction that whatever the challenges ahead, the cause of peace and freedom will prevail."