Tragedy of bushfires cloud Australia Day celebrations

SAEED KHAN / AFP

Australia Day celebrations have been clouded by the bushfire tragedy that left 33 people and millions of animals dead and destroyed hundreds of homes.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged how the country has had a tough start to 2020, battling bushfires, drought and flood. But, applauded the spirit of the Australians to adapt and thrive in the face of adversity.

"We are a free, diverse and accepting people," Morrison said. "Our way is to see the humanity of others regardless of their ethnicity or disability or age, religion, gender, all these things. We accept and embrace people for who they are."

He also emphasised that it was a time to acknowledge the country's stories, both ancient and recent.

Australia Day marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the "First Fleet" of British ships at Sydney Cove.

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