Thank you very much and can I thank you and particularly members of the Parliamentary Christian Fellowship, the chairs do a tremendous job and I want to thank them for pulling this together today. Can I also thank the Governor-General, His Excellency, and Mrs Hurley for being with us here today and for that wonderful address that we’ve just heard. It encourages us all. It’s been absolutely tremendous. Selina, thank you also for your wonderful Welcome to Country. Thank you also to all those who offered such wonderful prayers here this morning, they were truly moving as we covered such an array of topics. Whether it was the drought impacting our country from right across our eastern states, whether it’s the natural disasters of which the Governor-General was reminding us all. Just yesterday I was with the Premier of NSW in Rappville, a very small little community in Northern NSW that has been absolutely devastated by the fires that ripped through and surrounded their community and our prayers must also be with them and all of those affected by all of the natural disasters which in this country we face with great frequency.
But I particularly have been asked to come along here today to do something very specific and that is to launch this publication, which is on your tables, ‘Amen: A History of Prayers in the Parliament’ which has been pulled together by the PM Glynn Institute, with great support from the Australian Catholic University. I want to thank them very much for pulling this together. Looking at how prayer forms such a part for the people of the world. And in a few short hours here in this place, as we gather here this morning around a prayer breakfast, we will come into the Parliament in both Chambers and we will acknowledge the first Australians, and their custodianship and stewardship of this land over generations, and then we will pray. I think that’s a good way to start the Parliament each and every day and may it always be the case that that’s how we commence our time in Parliament.
Because for me prayer... I suppose I should particularly say in this room, if anyone else believed in miracles I think they’d be here, you get a pretty good response. But I often talk about miracles being founded in prayer and recently I was in the United States - and I welcome Ambassador Culvahouse here this morning - and I was there with Jenny, and I can report that Jenny and I did meet at a Christian camp. We were very young [inaudible] and we were there, and as we were heading into the South Lawn of the White House, I turned to Jenny and said, ‘We’re a long way from the Central Coast now, darling.’ But while I was in Washington we went along to a wonderful church there, the National Capital Community Church, the Church of Pastor Mark Batterson and there’s a whole range of campuses there. He’s written a wonderful book on prayer which they gave me and I’ve been reading it since I’ve come back and where he talks about the only prayers that you can be assured are never answered, are the ones that are never prayed. I think that’s true and it’s a reminder of the importance of prayer.
What I like about prayer and what is so important about us coming together in our Parliament and praying, is prayer gives us a reminder of our humility and our vulnerability, and that forms a unity. Because there’s certainly one thing we all have in common, whether we sit in the green or red chairs in this place, or anywhere else, and that is our human frailty. It is our human vulnerability. It is one of the great misconceptions, I think, of religion that there’s something about piety. It is the complete reverse. The complete reverse. Faith, religion, is actually first and foremost an expression of our human frailty and vulnerability and an understanding that there are things far bigger than each of us. And so when we come together in prayer, we are reminded of that, and we are reminded that the great challenges we face in this world are ones that we need to continue to bring up in prayer. And that is what we do each day as we come together as a Parliament and that’s why I am particularly pleased to launch this publication here today. A reminder to each and every one of us, of the importance of understanding our vulnerability as human beings and the need to actually come together in an understanding of that vulnerability and then humility, as the Governor-General has reminded us, going about addressing those issues in weakness it says, we are made strong, and the acknowledgement of that is what we do as we come together each day in the Parliament.
So I want to thank everybody for the opportunity to be here today with you and to join with Anthony who is here. This is not a place for partisanship, this is a place of unity, commonality around these very principals. So I particularly want to thank the PM Glynn Institute for the great piece of work they’ve done in officially launching this this morning and let’s read it carefully and there’s a wonderful section in here which talks about the daily ritual, I won’t read it out, but I can tell you the page 21, it’s a good reminder that after the quietness and stillness of prayer, the chaos and disorder sometimes follows - let that not be the case this week. All the best, thank you very much, God bless.