It gives me great pleasure to offer a message of congratulations to today’s citizenship candidates and officially welcome you as our newest Australians.
Australia has a long history of migration – beginning with the First Fleet, whose raising of the flag of Great Britain in Sydney Cove in 1788 is the reason we gather on this particular day every year.
Before that, our country had an incredible 60,000 years of indigenous history, with many nations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Our country has been built on the combined contributions of our Indigenous people and those who came later from all over the world.
We celebrate this diversity and, at the same time, we strive to be a unified and harmonious nation. We work together to solve problems. We have stable government and respect the rule of law. We are free and democratic. We live peacefully, and have compassion for those in need. We embody mateship, and a fair go.
In choosing to become an Australian, you have shown courage, endeavour and commitment to live in a new country. We value your contribution to our peaceful, democratic and diverse society.
In Australia we do not always agree. But we respect each other’s differences and choices, and we speak out against those who would deny those rights.
You, all 42 of our new citizens, are also part of our community here in Maitland. It gives me great pleasure to officially welcome you to this place you already call home.
Congratulations, and thank you for the opportunity to share in this special day. May you go in peace, prosperity, and double pluggers.
This is an edited version of an Australia Day address by Federal MP for Paterson, Meryl Swanson. She delivered this address at Maitland Park during the city’s official celebrations on January 26, 2017.