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Wednesday, 29 November 2006
Page: 155

Mr JOHNSON (9:39 AM) —Citizenship in this country is something very special. As an Australian who was naturalised here and who now represents the federal seat of Ryan in the western suburbs of Brisbane—one of the most beautiful parts of Brisbane, and indeed Queensland and this country—I have the great pleasure of representing the people of Ryan, which is a very multicultural district and a very strong and vibrant community.

In the parliament today I speak on citizenship because on Saturday, 11 November, Remembrance Day, at three o’clock I had the great privilege of presiding over a citizenship ceremony where we welcomed into the Australian family some 60 new Australians, who took the oath or the pledge of allegiance to our country to become citizens. I want to take the opportunity to thank all those involved, who made the ceremony very successful and very enjoyable. Initially I want to thank my MC, Ms Camilla Cowley, who is a great advocate for refugees. I also want to thank the schools that were involved—young Australians who witnessed people from many different countries becoming citizens of our country.

I want to thank Helen Twaddle and Gabriel Mukuan, school captains of Indooroopilly State High School. The ceremony was conducted at the Peter Doherty lecture theatre at Indooroopilly State High School. I thank Ms Lois Collins, the Principal of Indooroopilly State High School, for making us so welcome there. Also in particular I want to thank the young students of the Toowong State School band, who beautifully performed Freedom’s March, a very moving piece of music that really did inspire many of the Australians who were there to support their friends and their neighbours who became citizens.

As I said, 60 new Australians were welcomed to the status of citizenship in our country. They came from all countries—China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, the UK and even France. So many countries were represented by these Australians, who are now citizens of this great country. I thank also in particular the Rotary Club of Toowong for very generously lending their good name, their membership and their support in putting on the afternoon tea. Without them we could not have had a very successful afternoon. As the federal member, it was delightful to see the Peter Doherty lecture theatre at Indooroopilly State High School full of Australians supporting new Australians.

This country is a very vibrant community; it is a very strong community. We are home to one of the most multilingual workforces in our part of the world, where citizens from over 200 countries, about three million of Australia’s population of 20 million, speak a language other than English at home. But of course we encourage all new Australians to make English their premier language. (Time expired)