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SPEECH: Georges River Council Citizenship Ceremony

Good evening.

Thank you distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

I want to begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on which we are meeting and pay my respects to elders past, present, and emerging.

Today marks a new beginning for those who wish to call Australia home. This is both a momentous occasion for you as you become Australians, and a joyous time for our state as we welcome you with open arms.

Here in NSW, our diversity is our strength.

No where is that diversity more demonstrated than right here in the St George Area.

Our national story has been shaped by the cultures, histories, and rituals of countless people from every corner of the globe.

From our First Australians that have been here, caring for and connected to this land for over 50,000 years, to the newest arrivals to our shores, we are blessed in this country to have grown into a modern and diverse society.

Australia is a nation built by the contribution that migrants have brought to our shores. That is people just like you, who tonight have made the choice to become Australian citizens.

This is definitely not an easy decision to make. To pack up and move from the place that you grew up is a hard task. Adding to your heritage and culture with a new national identity is not something to be taken lightly and I commend you all for choosing to make this wonderful country your home.

I am proud to say that we live in one of the world's most diverse cities. In fact we live in a country where around 45% of our population are either born overseas or have at least one parent born overseas.

Beyond just being a diverse country, Australia is also a nation built on the values of social justice, fairness and democracy.

Here in the St George region we are fortunate to live in an area where we all feel safe and can live harmoniously alongside a number of different ethnicities. Might I add that you have also chosen to live in one of the best parts of Sydney. I live in Penshurst with my wife Adla, a school teacher, raising our sons James, who attends Mortdale Public School, and his brother Sammy.

After living in this area all of my life and now raising my family here, I am honoured that you haven chosen our community to make your home.

Today, as we celebrate our diversity, we remain united as one people with the same values, hopes and desires to live in a thriving and harmonious state.

As you become Australians today, you become members of the world’s most successful multicultural society. A society where everyone is encouraged to celebrate what makes them unique.

I believe that our state is stronger with the contributions of people from all walks of life.

Australia offers unique hopes and opportunities for you and your families to succeed in any endeavour you pursue. I have no doubt that these opportunities, and what you choose to do with them, will make our state even greater for present and forthcoming generations.

I want to once again congratulate each of you today for becoming part of our Australian family.

Thank you.