Bill's Speeches

BRIMBANK AUSTRALIA DAY CELEBRATIONS AND CITIZENSHIP CEREMONY

SPEECH

BRIMBANK AUSTRALIA DAY CELEBRATIONS AND CITIZENSHIP CEREMONY

MELBOURNE

MONDAY, 26 JANUARY 2015

 

 

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I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet – Australia’s first historians, our first artists, our first lawmakers, our first citizens – and I pay my respects to their elders both past and present.

My fellow Australians, new and old, one and all, it is a great pleasure to be here with you at Brimbank for a national day of celebration.

On Australia Day, we give thanks for the country we love - and the people we share it with.

We all celebrate this day differently.

In London and in Beijing, in New York and New Delhi – at all the hours of the day and night - Australians far away will be Skyping home for a glimpse of their loved ones and sunny southern skies.

Here at home there are annual fun runs and family camping trips, picnics in the park, cricket on the beach and the hottest one hundred on the radio.

And in our capital cities and in country town halls,  in suburban parks and civic squares, in gatherings great and small, nearly twenty thousand people will pledge their loyalty to this land, their new home.

In accents from every nation on earth, they will declare and affirm their rights and responsibilities as Australian citizens.

It is a privilege for me to share this proud moment with you and the people you love.

And let me be the first to say, welcome home.

Today, you stand on the shoulders of more than 4 million migrants who have taken the oath of citizenship before you.

You join your story with ours and our ancestors, with all those who have come from across the seas to make a new start beneath our Southern Cross.

And you continue a tradition more than two centuries old.

Because apart from the very first Australians, we are all migrants.

And whether our forebears came in chains or in comfort.

Whether they were seeking gold, or freedom from persecution.

Whether Australia was their dream, or their last resort, today we honour their contribution – and yours.

It is never easy to leave behind the land of your birth and the home of your ancestors.

To depart the place where you first spoke, learned, laughed and loved.

It is a sacrifice that demands incredible courage.

It is the courage of every generation of migrants, the courage to start a new life and the courage that renews our nation.

Every generation has given our nation new enterprise, industry, energy and enthusiasm, driving our national prosperity.

Every generation has nourished our national soul, with new art and architecture, new songs, new ideas, new ways of looking at the world.

And every generation has given back to the land that gave them their second chance, through volunteer work, community service and caring for others.

Every generation has given us a new and richer sense of what it is to be an Australian.

And so today, as we celebrate in our different ways we also celebrate our differences.

In Australia, we do not just ‘tolerate’ diversity – we cherish it.

We give thanks for our enlarged, enriched and emboldened Australian family.

Our country and our people  are at our best when we include everyone, when we empower everyone, when we respect everyone’s right to be their best and to be themselves.

That’s what binds us.

Because even though our citizens hail from every flag and faith on earth, we are not a patchwork country capable of being torn along old seams.

We are an alloy, a stronger and better nation because we are forged from the best of every culture and tradition.

That is the miracle of modern, multicultural Australia.

And as citizens - Australians by birth and Australians by choice - it is our solemn duty to preserve this.

To jealously guard the harmony and social cohesion that keeps us happy and safe.

It is a responsibility that has never been more important - and it is a job for all of us: political leaders, community leaders, parents, role models - Australians one and all.

In 2014, our world and our nation were often tested by tragedy.

But we endured, we prevailed, together.

In 2015, let us vow, all of us, to stand united against those who would seek to divide us.

Let us not shirk from the truth – let us learn from it.

Let us speak out against hatred - and overcome it.

Let us promise to confront ignorance and prejudice with truth and tolerance.

Let us reach out to the margins of our society with compassion and understanding.

Let us speak up for the victims of family violence.

Let us do everything we can to get children out of detention.

Let us, in 2015, be brave enough to breathe new life into the dream of an Australian head of state.

Let us embrace a modern diverse Australia – and have a mature debate about an Australian Republic.

114 years ago, Australians found the courage and goodwill to transform this continent into a Commonwealth.

This century, we can live up to their example and declare that our head of state should be one of us.

An Australian Republic – a model that truly speaks for who we are: our modern identity, our place in our region and our world.

Together we can fulfil the promise of Australia, the land of the second chance and the home of the fair go.

Together there is much for us to celebrate, today and every day.

ENDS

 

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