Welcome to 2017!

When I look back at the last year and all of its surprises and challenges, we can be very proud of how much we’ve achieved. In 2017, we’ll continue to work hard to ensure that all Australians are able to weather the economic challenges the world presents and seize the opportunities that technology and the rapid growth in our region offer.

Conflict around the world should make us all the more grateful and proud that we are such a harmonious society with people of all faiths, cultures and backgrounds living together in peace. But, we must never take it for granted. Our police and security services have foiled a number of terrorist plots designed to undermine our society and scare us into changing our way of life, which is the envy of the world.

The way Australians responded to the most recent arrests says a lot about our great nation: We refuse to be cowed or frightened, and we went about our business – attending Christmas church services, including in one of the locations police believe was a terrorist target, lining up to attend the cricket, shopping in the sales, seeing the new year in.

We will continue to root out Islamist terrorists and violent extremists and put them behind bars, just as our Defense Force will continue to combat and destroy them in Syria and Iraq. Those who’ve sought to divide us have failed, just as those who try to divide us in the future will fail. And that’s because we remain united in our determination to maintain our Australian values and our Australian way of life. Freedom, diversity, and security – these are great Australian strengths and they have built upon a foundation of mutual respect.

So, as we celebrate the end of 2016 and look ahead to 2017, rest assured that national and economic security will again be my priority. There will be plenty of surprises and challenges in 2017, just as they have been in 2016. But our unique strengths as a nation ensure that we are well placed to meet the unexpected and make 2017 a winning year for all Australians.

I wish everybody a New Year filled with peace, happiness and love.