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Thursday, 7 February 2013
Page: 496

Mrs PRENTICE (Ryan) (09:36): On Australia Day I had the privilege of welcoming more than 100 new citizens to my electorate of Ryan at three different citizenship ceremonies, in Indooroopilly, Mount Coot-tha and Toowong. As a result of the diligent work of members of the Brisbane Inner West Lions Club, the Rotary Club of Brisbane Planetarium and the Rotary Club of Toowong, these events were very special and memorable occasions for the participants and their family and friends.

On the day there were of course individuals, but also families, parents and their children, who had uprooted their lives in their country of birth to begin a new promising life in our great country. Each year more than 100,000 people settle in Australia, contributing to the social, cultural and economic development of this country. I know that these new citizens, who have pledged their commitment to our country on Australia Day, will bring with them the rich experiences and cultures of their countries of birth and will continue to enhance the vibrant multicultural fabric that we see in Ryan, and indeed across Brisbane.

We are often witness to the struggles of people in other countries fighting to build democracies, a system of government that we sometimes can take for granted. I find it particularly heartening to hear new citizens say the pledge and commit themselves to the future of Australia and to our democratic system of government. It is important that every Australian continues, as the pledge expresses, to share our democratic beliefs, respect our rights and liberties and uphold and obey our laws. It is in respecting the privileges and responsibilities that come with being Australian citizens that makes this country such a great place to live.

As co-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of the Australian Flag, I was delighted to see Mr Alan Pidgeon, chairman of the Australian National Flag Association, at the ceremony in Indooroopilly. Our flag was of course prominently displayed on the stage and I was proud to present each new citizen with their own flag. I also provided an information kit explaining the history and traditions of our flag, our national anthem and our indigenous flora and fauna.

I would like to thank many people for their efforts: Councillor Julian Simmonds, the councillor for Walter Taylor ward, and his staff; Ron Welsh and the Lions Club of Inner West; Judy Magub of Planetarium Rotary; Michael Michaux and Len Hepburn of the Toowong Rotary Club; and the Interact Club at Brisbane Boys College. I also want to thank all the other members who volunteered on the day to make the events great successes.

The Rotary branches at Toowong and at the Planetarium, and the Lions Club of Brisbane Inner West are part of a very broad range of humanitarian community services and projects that serve an important safety net for residents in Ryan. Both organisations help provide resources—people, financial and technical—for a broad range of community service projects within our local area, as well as nationally and indeed internationally. I want to take this opportunity to publicly acknowledge the great inspiration that this provides to other members of the community, new and old, to live in the service of others. I hope that some of these new citizens will participate in these community groups.