The 2016 Australian of the Year David Morrison became a household name in 2013 when he delivered a speech that went viral calling on men to accept women as equals in the army.
Last night the former Chief of the Army accepted the prestigious Australian of the Year award at Parliament House in Canberra from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Despite rain starting to hammer down during the outdoor ceremony, General Morrison delivered an outstanding speech which has set the tone for his year ahead.
He vowed to continue on with excellent work of the 2015 Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty.
“She has set a benchmark for us all and the scourge of domestic violence which faces us as one of our great social issues won’t be solved in a year, maybe in 50 or 100 years but it is up to us in our lifetimes to do something about it and I look forward to contributing to her great work,” he said.
The crowd laughed when General Morrison said he had made a serious error of judgement by preparing his notes for the speech that evening in ink pen.
He was unable to see what he had written as they became sodden from the rain.
Source: Twitter @666canberra ABC
However nobody would have known as he delivered a rousing speech and vowed to focus on three key areas in the year ahead while he holds the title of Australian of the Year.
- Diversity of gender, sexuality and race
- Gender equality including closing the pay gap
- The need for an Australian head of state
“I can’t explain why there is a gender pay gap,” he said.
“In this country between men and women across all professions of 17.8 per cent and worse in many of the professions that we are all proud to be part of.
“That needs to end.”
Mr Morrison said he would lend his voice to the republican movement.
“It is time, I think, to at least revisit the question so that we can stand both free and fully independent amongst the community of nations,” he said.
While he said it was extraordinary time to be an Australian, he made it clear there was still a great deal of work to be done – particularly in the area of gender equality.
“For reasons beyond education, or professional qualifications, or willingness to contribute, or a desire to be a part of our society and our community, too many of our fellow Australians are denied the opportunity to reach their potential,” he said.
“It happens because of their gender, because of the God they believe in, because of racial heritage, because they’re not able-bodied, because of their sexual orientation. And we as a nation, looking forward to the future, realising the extraordinary contributes we can all make, should be able to give them the chance to reach their potential because when they do, we all benefit. And that’s what true diversity is all about.”