Thursday 26 January 2006
AUSTRALIA DAY 2006
Citizenship ceremony speech, Albert Hall, 26 January, 2006.
My fellow Australian citizens, I warmly welcome you among us on this Australia Day.
You, unlike those of us born here, have made a conscious choice to become Australians-no doubt after some deliberation. In doing so you have left behind some of your past to embrace a different and I hope exciting future.
You now share with your fellow Australians their rights, privileges and obligations as citizens. You share a very fortunate nation with a future which you will help to guide and inspire. We look forward to hearing your voices contributing to the continual debate on what is meant by ‘Australian’.
Every new Australian enriches our society. You bring a background, knowledge, experience and culture which will not disappear but will become a part of our Australian identity.
As an Australian for more than 50 years – all right - closer to sixty years, I have observed a continual vitalization and broadening of our society because of the contributions of new citizens. Australian society today is dramatically different and dramatically better than when I was young.
It is hard to imagine what Australia would have been like today if new citizens had suddenly stopped arriving but I know that our society would have lacked much of its present vitality.
As Australian citizens you now have a stake in a physically beautiful country, a unique landscape and a wonderful, if fragile, environment. I know you will grow to love it and to care for it.
Our Australian society has many qualities but it is not perfect.
I hope your contributions to the society we now share will help change it for the better.
Some politicians have, in the past, argued that there is no such thing as society.
I differ strongly from that view. Our Australian society must include all Australians; it is the mechanism through which we care for one another, help one another to face difficult times, strive to understand one another and tolerate individual differences.
I welcome you to our society, which will now include you as full, life members.