Australian Citizenship Ceremony
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.
Kaye and I are delighted to welcome you to Government House for this very special Citizenship Ceremony: your affirmation and pledge of allegiance to Australia, its people and its democratic beliefs.
Although most of you have been living in Australia for quite some time, today it will truly become your own country.
Today, you are becoming fully fledged citizens.
No matter where you come from or what language you grew up speaking, when you leave this room you will do so as members of an inclusive club of 24 million men and women.
Citizenship can be defined as the status of a person recognised under the law as a legal member of a sovereign state.
The origins of citizenship are not entirely clear. Some historians believe citizenship dates to the early city-states of ancient Greece while others see it as something that was created with the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648.
Not only did the Treaty of Westphalia settle the Thirty Years War in Europe, it also stipulated that each state had exclusive sovereignty over its territory a revolutionary idea at the time.
Australian citizenship came into effect only 70 years ago. At the start of Federation in 1901, the sole civic status noted in the Australian Constitution was ‘British subject’. An administrative notion of citizenship arose from the need to distinguish between British subjects who were permanent residents and those who were merely visitors. This administrative notion was formalised in the Nationality andCitizenship Act 1948 but as recently as the 1960s, Australian citizens were required to declare their nationality as British.
The term ‘Australian nationality’ had no official recognition or meaning until the Act was amended in 1969 and renamed the Citizenship Act.
There is no doubt the introduction of Australian citizenship has helped our nation shape its identity one that is based on e call a fair go and what we embrace as respect for all. An identity grounded in diversity, inclusion and compassion.
While many have come to Australia for love, labour or lifestyle, for some it was a matter of survival. Since the late 1940s, we have welcomed more than 800,000 refugees and displaced persons.
As you may be aware, this Citizenship Ceremony coincides with national Refugee Week.
This presents an opportunity to acknowledge the countless contributions refugees have made to our shared story of success a story of which you will also help write the next chapter.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Before I read the preamble and administer the Australian Citizenship Pledge, Kaye and I would like to thank you wholeheartedly for your commitment.
We offer our sincerest congratulations on this marvellous step forward.
Citizenship may be an important legal concept but above all, it’s a promise. A promise that you are accepting the responsibilities and privileges that come with your membership of the club of 24 million.
And with this membership you are creating a unique and lasting bond between you and your fellow Australians.
As fellow Australians, we say welcome.