Address at the Australia Day Flag Raising Ceremony 2018

Speech
26 Jan 2018
Canberra
Prime Minister
Australia Day
E&OE

Yoonggu gulanyin ngalawiri, dhunayi, Ngoonawal dhowrrra.

Wanggarra lin jin yin marunn bulaan boogarabung.

Thank you, Warren for your very, very warm welcome to Ngunnawal country. We are gathered here on Ngunnawal land and we acknowledge, as Danni did before me, their elders, past, present and emerging.

I acknowledge the presence today of His Excellency, the Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove and Her Excellency, Lady Cosgrove, Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshall Mark Binskin, Chair of the National Australia Day Council, Danni Roche, so many distinguished guests, Australians one and all.

And to those about to become Australian citizens, welcome.

Along with 13,000 other people in ceremonies all around our country, you'll soon pledge allegiance to Australia. You will join us as holders of the highest office in our democracy; Australian citizen.

Our nation's story began 65,000 years ago with our First Australians, the oldest continuous human civilisation. No pyramid in Egypt, no Palace in France, no church in England or Rome precedes our First Australians.

Our sense of identity is strengthened by their stories and songs, dance and art, practices and ceremonies. We honour their resilience and survival, respect and cherish their continuing contribution to our nation.

It's a heritage of which we are proud and which we celebrate.

It is uniquely Australian.

We haven't always recognised this truth as we should've done, but all of us, including our newest citizens, are heirs to this history.

It is our duty to learn, embrace and help preserve it. On Australia Day, we welcome many new migrant stories. Each one began with an arrival on our shores - hope buoyed by optimism - that a new life would be build in this new home.

My family's story is no exception. My forebears including a sailor on the Sirius landing at Sydney Cove; staunch Scots building a church on the Hawkesbury in the days of Governor William Bligh and the Rum Rebellion; a pair of actors in the touring cast of a showboat, run aground in Melbourne during the Great Depression.

All had faith in this new land, and they, like you, chose to stay.

Australia is a nation united in our diversity. We do not define our national identity, as so many other nations do, by race, by religion, or by a particular culture, but by shared values.

Democracy and freedom.

Mutual respect and equality for men and women.

A steadfast commitment to the rule of law.

We come from close to 200 different countries. At this ceremony alone, we have 32 new citizens from 19 different nations.

In a world of conflict and tension, and in many respects growing intolerance, our success as a peaceful, prosperous harmonious society, is a beacon of hope.

As our Australian of the Year Professor Michelle Simmons said last night; here in Australia there is no better place to realise your dreams. This nation, our nation, Australia, where she chose to realise her own.

Nowhere, if you stumble or fall behind, are you more likely to get a hand up. Fairness, a fair go, mateship, looking out for each other, those values are in our Australian DNA.

The Diggers of a century ago, the servicemen and women of today and right now, in this hot summer, the firefighters and the lifesavers and so many others keeping us safe.

Our remarkable nation is the work of all of us and the generations that came before us.

By defending and sustaining our Australian values, we will forge an even brighter future for the generations that come after us.

I wish everyone a happy Australia Day and to all who become citizens today here in Canberra, and around the nation; you honour us because you have chosen us.

Those who were born here, became Australian citizens involuntarily. We arrived squalling and screaming into the world as Aussie citizens.

You made a choice to join our family.

Welcome.

[Applause]

Now, as a requirement of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 and of course, in the presence of the Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs, Michael Pezzullo, I will now read the preamble:

"Australian citizenship represents full and formal membership of the community of the Commonwealth of Australia, and Australian citizenship is a common bond involving reciprocal rights and obligations uniting all Australians while respecting their diversity.

Persons on whom Australian citizenship is conferred, enjoy these rights and undertake to accept these obligations by pledging loyalty to Australia and its people, by sharing their democratic beliefs and by respecting their rights and liberties and by upholding and obeying the laws of Australia."

I will now call on the candidates who have indicated they wish to make pledge number one, which is the pledge containing the words "under God", to stand. If you wish to make the pledge on a holy book, please hold it your hands now.

Please repeat after me, line by line, this pledge:

"From this time forward, under god, I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect and whose laws I will uphold and obey."

Congratulations.

[Applause]

I will now call on the candidates who indicated they wish to make pledge number two, to stand and repeat after me.

"From this time forward, I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect and whose laws I will uphold and obey."

Thank you, congratulations.

Ladies and gentlemen let’s welcome our new Australian citizens.

[Applause]

[Ends]