Australian Citizenship Ceremony
Minister Grace, representing our Queensland Premier; Councillor Owen-Taylor representing the Lord Mayor of Brisbane; and representing the Consular Corps of Queensland, Mr Quevauvilliers
Kaye and I are very pleased to welcome to Government House today our citizenship candidates, and their proud families and friends. Many of you are our suburban neighbours – even from here on Fernberg Road, though we join today not in a suburban, or municipal, or even State relation, but as Australian nationals.
Though at the State level, may I acknowledge now the Turrbal and Jagera peoples, who have traditionally been the custodians of the lands of Brisbane. I extend respectful greetings. All Australians are enriched by our nation’s enduring Indigenous heritage; a heritage which continues to imbue contemporary Queensland life. As we acknowledge our new Australians today, we must ever be mindful of the stipulation we pursue proper equality with our Indigenous fellow citizens.
It is a great source of pride for Kaye and me that today’s significant citizenship ceremony is being held for the first time here at Government House, Queensland.
Ladies and gentlemen, your presence here today adds to this estate’s, Fernberg’s, very interesting and significant heritage which, like our nation’s heritage, has been enriched by contributions from people from many lands.
This grand House of the people of Queensland was built in 1865 by a German-born merchant, Johann Heussler, and subsequently owned by a Scot, John Stevenson.
Since 1910, it has been the official residence of Queensland Governors – the representatives of our Head of State, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Australia.
(And I am pleased that you will shortly be presented, by my wife, with a copy of the ‘All for Queensland’ publication outlining the contributions of Queensland’s first 25 Governors. We do not presume to anticipate assessment of the role of the State’s 26th Governor!).
The 20 candidates – soon to be citizens – before us today come from many nations – the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, France, India and China.
You speak many languages, and your diversity reminds us that our nation’s strength lies in our people.
What we treasure as Australians – our common purpose – spans the many cultures and beliefs of the modern national mosaic.
Australia of the 21st century is remarkably and wonderfully different from the Australia of my youth when the so-called migrant contribution was greeted with guarded scepticism.
Now we, once the doubters, recognise the mutual enrichment flowing from a diversity of cultures and an inclusive philosophy.
This ceremony is taking place proximately to Australia Day, which is a commemoration redolent of national pride. It is a shame when public reporting is trapped by the misbehaviour of a few. As Kaye and I sensed overwhelmingly in Townsville on the day, the national pride of our fellow Australians is palpable – inspiring, reassuring.
As I welcome you into the spirit of that national Australian psyche – based very much in mutual support – I encourage you to continue to contribute actively to your local communities – and State and nation – both professionally and personally.
Before I read the preamble, and at my request you repeat the pledge – and it is at that stage you formally become Australian citizens, I must appropriately acknowledge the vital support your friends and families will have provided along the way.
I know you would want me to thank the Royal Australian Navy Band Brisbane for their fine ceremonial turnout and performance today. This fine military band’s participation further signifies our perception here at Government House of the great importance of the step you have taken.
Once again, it is Kaye’s and my immense honour to host you all here today. We are very proud that you all have chosen Queensland as the place where you will start what I am sure will be an exciting and satisfying chapter as Australian citizens.