As we approach the end of this first decade of this new millennium, we observe that the history of nations has been a history of conflict interrupted by brief interludes of peace. But now the nations of the world face two common problems that transcend national boundaries – the rise of criminal networks with the capacity and will to inflict harm on innocent multitudes for the sake only of inflicting harm, and the threat of environmental damage, death and destruction at our own hands.

One thing is clear – so long as nations continue pursuing their own self interest in competition with others, these problems cannot be solved. These modern evils do not confine themselves to the territories of one power to be eliminated – they seep throughout the globe and evade all efforts to contain them.

And yet we are faced not with threats to our comfort, but to the institutions and survival of our entire race – the human race. We are one people, with one planet, and one fate. It is up to us to decide what that fate will be.

And so today I call on the people of Australia, and the people of all nations, to support the bringing together of all the people of the world in a common endeavour – to put aside our differences and find our common interest, and put in place the international institutions that are needed to tackle these menaces that threaten us all.

This is the hardest endeavour in the history of mankind and one that goes against our very nature. Yet it is an endeavour we must undertake – our continued existence depends on it.

Write a speech for Australia 2007 — something like the Gettysburg address, that defines the Australian moment and projects our nation into a new unified destiny — in 272 words. If 272 words was good enough for Abraham Lincoln … Send your small gem of timeless rhetoric to [email protected]. The eventual winner (we don’t want to set a deadline just yet) will be performed by former NSW premier and orator supreme Bob Carr on Radio National’s Late Night Live.

Peter Fray

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