Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony

(26 January 2012, Hyde Park)

Hello, everyone - Happy Australia Day! And welcome to our 2012 Australia Day citizenship ceremony.

I'd like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders.

I also acknowledge the 200 nationalities who make up this wonderful City.

I'm also pleased to welcome:

  • The Honourable Tanya Plibersek MP, Federal Member for Sydney & Minister for Health
  • Senator Lee Rhiannon, Senator for NSW

And finally, a very special welcome to the 17 people who are here today to become Australian citizens. You, your family and friends are joining us in celebration of who we are and what we share.

As we welcome you today as our newest citizens, we acknowledge firstly the special place of Aboriginal people in this country - heirs of the world's oldest continuous culture, one that has inhabited this land for at least 60,000 years before the coming of Europeans.

In this era of global warming, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures can provide a timely lesson about living in harmony and balance with our precious but imperilled natural world.

For them, the earth is not a commodity but a sacred trust to be nurtured for future generations.

Also on Australia Day, we honour all our migrants, whether, like the first European Australians they came as convicts, or like others 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, so that we all look and sound and think the same.

Sydney's diversity is one of its great strengths, and we value our rich mix of people and cultures.

Each of you here today 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, the diversity and tolerance that we are privileged to enjoy in Australia will be actively embraced and advanced by you.

The theme for Australia Day 2012 is Make Your Mark, Australia and while it celebrates the contributions made by Australians, whether locally, nationally or internationally, it also reminds us that we each should strive to make a mark, to leave our community, our city and our country a better place.

I will now conduct the Official Citizenship Ceremony for our special new citizens who are receiving their Australian Citizenship on this Australia Day 2012.

Today, we are welcoming you from:

  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Colombia
  • France including New Caledonia
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong and Macau
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Italy
  • Serbia and Montenegro
  • United Kingdom, and
  • United States of America.

You will join the people of over 200 different national origins 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 Australia passport, and to claim Australian diplomatic protection while overseas, should it be necessary.

So now I ask those taking Pledge One, under God, to please stand and repeat after me….

PLEDGE 1

From this time forward, under God,

I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people,

Whose democratic beliefs I share,

Whose rights and liberties I respects, and

Whose laws I will uphold and obey.

Thank you. If you'll please be seated, I'll now ask those taking PLEDGE 2 to stand.

PLEDGE 2

From this time forward,

I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people,

Whose democratic beliefs I share,

Whose rights and liberties I respect, and

Whose laws I will uphold and obey.

Thank you, and please be seated. Congratulations, and a warm welcome to all of you.

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 of the most important are reconciliation with our indigenous people, and the challenge of protecting and preserving our environment in the face of global warming and 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 rewarding lives here, in your new homeland.

Happy Australia Day!

We'll now present you with your certificates of citizenship.