Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony

(Hyde Park)

Hello everyone, Happy Australia Day, and welcome to our Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony. I'd like firstly to thank Clarence for that welcome and I too would like to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of this land.

I'd like to also welcome The Hon Kristina Keneally MP - Premier of NSW and Minister for Waterloo Redfern, Adrian Bartels representing Barry O'Farrell MP, Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Western Sydney, The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP Federal Member for Sydney, Minister for Human Services and Minister for Social Inclusion, Angelos Frangopoulos Chairman Australia Day Council of NSW, John Trevillian AM - CEO, Australia Day Council of NSW, Councillor Marcelle Hoff Deputy Lord Mayor and Councillors of City of Sydney, our Citizens to be (on stage) and your families and friends, Ladies and Gentlemen.

January 26 is a significant day for all Australians.

It is a day when we join family and friends to celebrate who we are and what we share.

The recent floods in Queensland have shown how we, as a Nation, can come together in a crisis and look after our neighbours. Support has been shown to the hundreds of thousands of Queenslanders affected by these devastating floods.

Convoy of Council vehicles and specialist staff to work with Brisbane in their massive clean up.
There has been a sense of community and caring which is about being Australian - a willingness to help your neighbour. Whether they be next door, interstate or across the world.

The Salvation Army has collection buckets for donations in the park today as part of their Flood Appeal and if you are able please make a contribution.

And today I have the honour of welcoming these 17 people to our family.

And as we welcome you today as our newest citizens, we also acknowledge the world's oldest continuous culture, that of Australia's Aboriginal people. For at least 60,000 years before the coming of Europeans, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were the custodians of this land.

In honouring their custodianship, we commit ourselves to forging bonds of genuine reconciliation with the first Australians, and to ensuring that they are finally able to share fully in the riches our country has to offer.

In this era of global warming, our Aboriginal cultures can provide a timely lesson about living in harmony and balance with our precious but imperilled natural world. For indigenous cultures, the earth was not a commodity but a sacred trust to be treasured for future generations.

Also on Australia Day, we honour all our migrants, whether, like the first European Australians, they came as convicts, or as refugees, or simply to seek a new and better life in a distant part of the world.

Our country has been enriched immeasurably by these generations of brave souls from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. Australia has been called a melting-pot, but we do not want our newcomers to submerge their identities into some blandness where we all look and sound and think the same.

Rather, we hope that in bringing your language, your customs and culture to our country, you will add another vivid piece to the mosaic that is Australia in 2011.

Each of you will have something that is uniquely yours to add to the meaning of being an Australian. We welcome it, and we welcome you.

We hope, in turn, that the freedom, the peace, diversity and tolerance that we have in Australia will be actively embraced by you.

I hope that you will accept freedom, diversity and tolerance as the core values of a true Australian. That you will become champions for those values.

I will now conduct the Official Citizenship Ceremony for our special new citizens who are receiving Australian Citizenship on this Australia Day 2011.

Today, we are welcoming you from Bosnia & Herzegovnia, Brazil, France, Ireland, The People's, Republic of China, The Philippines, Turkey, The United Kingdom and Vietnam who will join the people of over 200 nationalities living in our city.

In becoming an Australian citizen, you acquire responsibilities as well as rights.

You will now have the right to vote and I urge you to use it responsibly, and keep informed about issues that affect our country.

You will have the right to trial by jury and in return, you have the responsibility to serve on a jury if required.

You have the right of political freedom - and the responsibility to obey and uphold the laws which give you that freedom.

You can be called upon to defend Australia, should the need arise.

You have the right to apply for appointment to any public office, and to stand for election to your local council or to the State or Federal Parliaments.

You have the right to an Australian passport, and to claim Australian diplomatic protection while overseas, should it be necessary.

I hope you will all contribute, in whatever way is right for you, to building Australia's future. We are a land of opportunity, but we also face many challenges. Two important ones are reconciliation with our indigenous people, and the challenge of protecting and preserving our environment, at this time of global warming leading to climate change.

As Australians, let us face our challenges together, with
The enthusiasm of a young country
The creativity of a diverse country
The courage of a free country
And most of all
With the compassion and tolerance of a just and caring society.

Welcome as Australians! I wish you and your families happy and fruitful lives in your new homeland.

Happy Australia Day!

And now we will present your certificates of citizenship.