Subject: Australia Day
Thank you very much Councillor Wood, the acting Mayor; to Councillor Liu; to Ben Rimmer, the CEO and also the other special guests, ladies and gentlemen.
And of course as we traditionally do, I acknowledge the Traditional Owners the Wurundjeri people as well on this land where we gather here today.
It is a great honour for me to be here today to officially welcome you, in a few short minutes, to confer upon you Australian citizenship.
I know this is going to be a day which you will remember for the rest of your lives. In part, because whether you were born here or whether you are becoming a citizen by conferral, becoming an Aussie is almost like winning the lottery of life.
I think that is absolutely the case and I thank my lucky stars almost every day that I happen to be born here. But it is equally fortunate that you get to become a citizen today.
It is particularly right and particularly apt that you become a citizen on Australia Day.
Because this is a day where we reflect on what it means to be Australian, what is means to be a citizen of this great country.
We reflect on our egalitarian spirt, reflect upon the freedom and prosperity we all enjoy, we reflect upon the modern multicultural character, and of course we reflect upon the Indigenous heritage on which the nation is built.
We hold these things very, very dear to us. But they are also the things that make the nation attractive for people from around the world to come here.
At its heart, of course, the story of Australia is a migrant story, built upon an Indigenous heritage. It is a story of diverse people from across the globe coming to this place, building a life, and calling Australia our home.
And it is not just any old migrant story, but I think Australia is one of the great migration stories of the word. More than five million people from more than 200 countries have become citizens since the first citizenship ceremonies in 1949.
My parents are two of those five million people. They came out here in the late 1960s on a boat from Scotland. They worked hard to build a successful life for themselves and our family in the new country that they called home. They embraced the community and shared the values which united it.
This pathway continues to this very day, with you becoming citizens today.
You become part of the fabric of Australia, contributing to it in your own way, and enjoying every right and responsibility as equally as the person who was born here decades ago.
To me, this is actually the cornerstone of citizenship – having the status that says that you are equal to every other Australian, in rights and responsibilities.
But to me it is also more than that. Citizenship is actually the glue that binds us together as Australians. It is a call to action, if you like. It is a status that says: I am doing more than just living here – I am fully participating in the ongoing story of Australia.
I know you will cherish your citizenship. I hope you use it as a platform to achieve great things for yourselves, for your families, and for our nation.
I just want to congratulate you on behalf of myself, on behalf of the Australian Government and Parliament and welcome you as the newest members of the Australian family today.
I am absolutely excited for you about what opportunities there are in front of you – today, this year and in the years ahead for yourselves and you families.
Congratulations. You are just about to become the newest members of the Australian family.