Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony

(10am, Saturday 26 January 2013, Hyde Park)

Hello, everyone - Happy Australia Day! And welcome to our 2013 Australia Day citizenship ceremony. I'd like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders.

I'm also pleased to welcome Alex Greenwich MP, State Member for Sydney and Councillor Angela Vithoulkas.

And finally, a very special welcome to the 26 people who today will become Australian citizens, and a part of our Australian family, joining people of over 200 different national origins living in our wonderful city.

We welcome:

  • The BELKIN family from ISRAEL and
  • The GOMES family from BANGLADESH
  • The AMAYA HERNANDEZ family from COLOMBIA
  • The LAPTEVA family from RUSSIA
  • The LORENZO family from the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
  • The PARKER family from SOUTH AFRICA
  • The JOUSELLIN-SCHWARTZ family from FRANCE and
  • Gerard TALBOT from SOUTH AFRICA

We are pleased to celebrate this Australia Day with you and your friends as we take the opportunity to say "Thank you, Australia", which is the theme for this year.

It gives us the opportunity to reflect on the good, safe and happy lives most of us can live here; to reflect on our unique landscape and how we must cherish and protect it; and to reflect on our unique culture, the mosaic made of many cultures that have each contributed to the Australia we see today.

As we welcome you today as our newest citizens, we acknowledge also 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.

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 its 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.

And in line with this year's theme, we can all join with you, our newest Australians, in saying Thank you, Australia.

In becoming an Australia 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 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 respect, and

Whose laws I will uphold and obey.

 

Thank you, If you'll please take your seats, 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, everyone, 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 the on-going 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 fruitful lives here.

Happy Australia Day, everyone!