Citizenship Ceremony, 20th anniversary of Citizenship Day [virtual ceremony]
Thank you to Aunty Violet for her Welcome to Country.
Good morning, everyone, and welcome to this Citizenship Ceremony.
Linda and I are delighted to be with you and to be part of your special day.
There’s much to celebrate.
Today, you become an Australian citizen. It is also the 20th anniversary of Citizenship Day. And because of the restrictions in place due to the pandemic it is the first-ever virtual Citizenship Ceremony involving a Governor-General.
All in all, it’s a wonderful occasion and Linda and I are privileged to share it with you.
There’s no doubt that Citizenship Ceremonies are among the happiest of occasions on our national calendar. The smiles say it all.
I look forward to presiding over your Citizenship Ceremony shortly. I want to emphasise that just because this event is virtual in no way diminishes its significance. A virtual ceremony is still a ceremony, and it is an important occasion. I hope that you will be able to celebrate with loved ones and friends in person in the near future.
I’m informed that there will be about 140 Citizenship Ceremonies taking place around Australia today, many of them virtual events, and that more than seven thousand people will be invited to become Australian citizens.
Citizenship Day is held on 17 September each year. It is day where we celebrate the value and significance of Australian citizenship, and the privileges and responsibilities it embodies.
In that respect it is a day for all Australians, not just our newest citizens. It is an opportunity for us all, whether by birth or choice, to pause and reflect on our role in the community and how we can contribute to a cohesive and welcoming Australia.
We welcome every new citizen who pledges their allegiance to Australia and commits to our shared values of freedom, equality, democracy and commitment to the rule of law.
Today, at this Citizenship Ceremony, we welcome 16 citizens-in-waiting. You come from very different backgrounds and places of birth – Britain, Germany, Ghana, India, Iran, Nepal, the United States and Vietnam – but shortly you will all be Australian.
You have already made a positive contribution to Australian society. And, as Australian citizens, you will continue to do the same. How do I know that? Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’ve read your biographies!
Without mentioning any names, I see that …
- Some of you work in the health sector.
- Some of you are studying at University.
- One family says the weather in Canberra is much better than in the UK!
- Another family says that Australia’s diversity is what attracted them to our shores.
- Other reasons cited were our love of sport, an abundance of natural wealth, and the Australian slang … specifically the phrase, ‘Bring a plate’.
Again, not naming names, but ‘Bring a plate’ when invited to a party does not mean ‘Bring your own plate with nothing on it!’ The wonderful thing about Australia is that, plate or no plate, you’d still be welcome at the party.
Seriously, though, while reading your biographies it became clear to me very quickly that you all have a genuine affection for Australia, value highly everything this country has to offer, and that you love the sense of community, particularly here in Canberra.
So, congratulations to all of you. What a momentous day it is for you and your families.
Shortly, you will take a pledge of loyalty to Australia, its people and its democratic beliefs. In that moment, you will become an Australian citizen. I’m sure it is a moment you will cherish for the rest of your life and a decision you did not make lightly.
There are people from every country living in Australia – eight countries are represented today. Almost 30 per cent of us were born overseas and a further 21 per cent have at least one migrant parent. The strength of a culturally diverse community, united by an overriding and unifying commitment to Australia, is one of our greatest achievements and one of our great national assets.
Like every country we have our challenges, but we should be optimistic about our future. We are a good people and a strong people. You will help make us stronger still.
Australian citizenship is a shared identity – a common bond which unites all Australians. Our diversity and our unity are our greatest strengths.
Again, congratulations to our newest Australian citizens-in-waiting. There’s much to love about Australia. Linda and I are delighted that you want to call Australia home.