Australian Citizenship Ceremony
Representing the Premier of Queensland, Ms Jessica Pugh MP; representing the Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator Amanda Stoker; representing the Leader of the Opposition, Dr Christian Rowan MP; ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys.
I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the lands and waters of Brisbane, and express my respect for Elders.
Kaye and I are truly delighted to welcome you to Government House for this very special occasion. You are about to take an affirmation and pledge your allegiance to Australia, its people and its democratic beliefs.
No matter where you come from or what language you grew up speaking, when you leave this room you will do so as one of five million people who call Queensland home – one of 24 million Australians.
It was in 1949 that Australian citizenship was legislated for: odd for people like me – though born in Australia in 1948, for a year I was of British descent, and my wife Kaye was in the same situation.
The Australia of 1949, four years out of the Second World War, was still comparatively young. We had been a federation for only 47 years and our population was only 8 million. Rapid growth ensued.
Over the past decades, more than seven million people have made Australia their home while more than 4.5 million have become citizens. Almost half our population was born overseas or has at least one parent who was born overseas.
While many have come to Australia for love, labour or lifestyle, for some it is simply a matter of survival. Since the end of the Second World War, Australia has welcomed about 800,000 refugees and displaced persons to its shores.
These people have become part of our family. As you may be aware, this ceremony coincides with national Refugee Week.
Let’s take this opportunity to acknowledge the countless positive contributions refugees have made to our shared story of success — a story of which you will help write the next chapter.
Diversity is one of our nation’s greatest strengths. It is what defines us, and what we thrive on. Your commitment today builds on this strength and continues our country’s proud traditions of acceptance and equality.
As residents, many of you have already made significant contributions to your local areas and the wider community. Today we look forward to the contributions you will make in the future, now as fully-fledged Australian citizens.
Before I read the preamble and administer the Australian Citizenship Pledge, Kaye and I would like to thank you wholeheartedly for your commitment and offer our sincerest congratulations on this marvellous step forward.
As fellow Australians, and Queenslanders, we say welcome.