Record 1900 New Aussies At WA Ceremony

Record 1,900 new Aussies at WA ceremony

Warwick Stanley
The Sydney Morning Herald
January 26, 2009

No-one has done better than Australia at settling migrants, Immigration and Citizenship Minister Chris Evans has told the nation's largest Australia Day citizenship ceremony.

The West Australian senator, addressing almost 1,900 new citizens under a baking sun at Edith Cowan University in Perth's north, said they had joined “four million others who have done it before you”.

The crowd donned hats bearing the union jack and southern cross ensign for the occasion and waved flags to the singing of the Advance Australia Fair after their mass swearing-in.

Senator Evans said the ceremony was the largest citizenship swearing-in held in Australia on Monday and the second-largest in the nation's history.

Among the 1,881 people who became citizens, 388 were born in the United Kingdom, 253 were from South African and 122 were from India.

The next largest representations in order were from Zimbabwe, New Zealand, China, Singapore, Kenya and Afghanistan.

Senator Evans said Australia's two great stories were its indigenous people and the story of migration.

“It was 60 years ago that we actually passed the amendments to the Citizenship Act which said we were no longer a British colony and were about building Australian citizenship,” Senator Evans said.

“We are a great success story.

“You go anywhere in the world and they say no-one has done it better than Australia at settling and promoting the success of its migrants.

“It's a great day to think about what Australia means to you and what we can do to make Australia the great place it is.

“It's a time to reflect on our diversity – more than 90 countries are represented today.

“We have refugees and business migrants building Australia … and tasting its success.”

Senator Evans drew laughs when he reminded South African migrants that they'd have to switch sides when they sat down to watch the Australia Day cricket match between South Africa and Australia in Adelaide.

“When reading the fine print on the citizenship slips you will see that you are now required to support Australia in the cricket,” he said.

“If you don't, I know where you live.”

West Australian Premier Colin Barnett said Australia Day was a day for all Australians to appreciate their right to vote and participate in a democratic system of government.

“For those newcoming Australian citizens it will be even a little bit more special,” he said.

“However you spend this day, and particularly for young people, perhaps the reflections on history aren't so relevant.

“Perhaps it's more about what you do on the day … to be proud to be Australian … to have an Australian flag attached to your car, to wave the flag, to have an Australian hat, to go to the fireworks, to watch the cricket on TV and barrack for Australia .. to be thankful to be Australian and celebrate our great nation.”