Adjournment - Christmas

Tonight, I rise to speak on the importance of Christmas and the importance of respecting our Christian heritage at this time of year.

Like many in this place, I held a Christmas card colouring competition this year, through which I received hundreds of brilliant entries from junior school children across South Australia's northern and southern suburbs. Christmas is a magical time of year and a busy time of year, and I appreciate the efforts that those young South Australians put into their entries. I know that many hours went into those entries and that much consideration was given to the messages contained in those drawings. The artwork and the sentiments from those entries were outstanding. I was pleased to see that so few of them used terms such as 'happy holidays'. Many of them were in fact using traditional messages and symbols. However, I was particularly taken with the work of Taya, who is eight years old and attends Pimpala Primary School in Adelaide's southern suburbs. Her entry didn't have festive beach balls, it didn't have season's greetings thongs, there were no holiday trees and it didn't wish people 'happy holidays' or 'season's greetings'. Taya's entry was in essence a statement about that which makes Christmas important to her. That statement, very simply and eloquently, was put as follows: 'Christmas isn't about presents; it's about family and friends.' It is a strong traditional message and one that properly reflects the true sentiment of the season. Her observation was so simple and so heartfelt that it gave me reason to reflect on the importance of Christmas, its true meaning, over and above its otherwise confected meaning, and the importance of preserving the traditional meaning of Christmas from attempts to water down those values.

Christmas is a Christian holiday. It is designed to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. You can tell that from the name: Christmas. Some of the most vivid memories I have from childhood involve Christmas—the traditional decorations, the nativity scenes, the red bows, the Christmas wreaths and memories of my family coming together to enjoy each other's company and celebrate the day over a special meal. It has always been a time to celebrate and to reflect.

This experience reminds me that it is critical that this holiday continues to serve as an opportunity for Australians, whether they be Christians or not, or religious or not, to recognise the important role that this Christian heritage played in the formation of our country. I'm proud that so many people in my home state of South Australia embrace the traditional meaning of Christmas. It is the state that holds the Christmas Pageant, which has been celebrated every November since 1933 and is the Southern Hemisphere's largest public parade. We also have the Loxton Lights Festival in the Riverland of South Australia, showcasing from 30 November to 31 December. It is heartening to see so many local businesses and residents pitching in year after year to participate in this event, which brings such joy to so many people.

Christmas is a special time of year, a time to embrace tradition and to celebrate with family and friends. It is not a time for political correctness or point-scoring. I would like to thank and applaud all the people who strive to maintain a traditional Christmas at this time of year. Thank you to all the children who have participated in the competition, and thank you especially to Taya, and to Pimpala Primary School, for Taya's timely reminder regarding the importance of the true meaning of Christmas.