Harmony Week Citizenship Ceremony, Albert Hall, Yarralumla ACT
This is Ngunnawal Country. Today we are all meeting together on this Ngunnawal Country. We acknowledge and pay our respects to the Elders — past, present and emerging.
Good afternoon, all.
Linda and I are absolutely delighted to participate in today’s ceremony — citizenship ceremonies are such joyous occasions — and to welcome Australia’s newest 68 citizens.
As many in the audience will be aware, Harmony Week begins on Monday.
Harmony Week is an important observance on our national calendar, where we celebrate our diversity — our varied backgrounds, experiences and perspectives.
Together, these elements make us a great nation and a strong nation.
For those who will shortly take the final step in their migration journey, you are part of that strength, part of the community and part of our future.
Harmony Week is a single week.
But the same ethos runs 365 days a year — we are stronger because of our differences and what we each bring to the table.
Now, something you may not be aware of is that today’s ceremony has some added significance.
Why do I say that? Because 74 years ago the first Australian citizenship ceremony was held in this very hall.
On that day, the 3rd of February 1949, seven men became Australian citizens.
Since then, more than five million, six hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-three men AND women have done the same.
And, let me repeat, Australia is much the richer for it.
To our newest citizens — you are joining a great country.
We are a community whose members are there for each other in good times and in bad.
We celebrate our many achievements, and we stick together and help each other when trouble hits.
We are also a people not afraid of hard work.
We are creative and innovative and embrace diversity.
We are the product of our past and the sum of our individual stories.
I am very excited at the contributions that our 68 newest citizens will either make or continue to make.
As a group, they come from 21 diverse nations — Afghanistan, Canada, Colombia, Fiji, India, Italy, Kenya, Liberia, Nepal, Nigeria, Malaysia, Philippines, Poland, Sri Lanka, South Sudan, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, United Kingdom, Venezuela and Vietnam.
Each will make their own contribution and write their own page in the Australian story.
To Australia’s newest citizens…
Shortly, you will take a pledge.
In doing so, you will pledge your loyalty to Australia, its people and its democratic beliefs.
You will become Australian citizens.
It’s a momentous, life-changing step and I’m sure you have thought about it very carefully.
You are about to become part of a great nation!