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Record new citizens on Australia Day 2013

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**EMBARGOED UNTIL 12.01AM** 26 January 2013


The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, today welcomed a record 17,059 people from 145 countries who are becoming Australian citizens as part of Australia Day celebrations.

Mr Bowen said Australia Day was always the most popular day of the year for citizenship ceremonies and record numbers were joining the Australian family in 2013 celebrations, with 430 special ceremonies being staged across the nation.

“Australia Day is a special day for all Australians to come together to celebrate what is great about our nation - our rich history and our promising future,” Mr Bowen said.

“It is also a fitting opportunity for all of us - whether Australians by birth or by choice - to recognise our common bond and unique diversity while celebrating the privileges and responsibilities of Australian citizenship.

“I encourage those becoming new citizens today to help in building up our nation and we look forward to the contribution you will make to our national story.”

At the national flag-raising and citizenship ceremony in Canberra, Prime Minister Julia Gillard will confer citizenship on 22 people from nine countries, including world-renowned British actor Miriam Margolyes OBE, acclaimed for her performances in film, television and theatre.

In Sydney’s west, Mr Bowen will preside over a citizenship ceremony at Holroyd City Council in Merrylands.

New South Wales will welcome almost 3,800 new citizens from 113 countries as the state celebrates Australia Day with 115 special citizenship ceremonies today.

A quintessentially Australian ceremony for 15 lucky people will be hosted by Cricket NSW at Sydney Olympic Park before tonight’s international Twenty20 match between Australia and Sri Lanka. Meanwhile at Hyde Park, Sydney’s Lord Mayor will welcome seven family groups from seven different countries to the Australian family.

Sydney’s largest Australia Day citizenship event will be hosted by Sutherland Shire Council in the city’s south, with 209 people to receive their citizenship. In regional NSW, the largest citizenship ceremony will be hosted by Gosford Council for 123 conferees.

Victoria will welcome some 3,800 new citizens from 105 countries in about 80 citizenship ceremonies across the state. Among the highlights will be a Melbourne Park ceremony hosted by Tennis Australia ahead of the Australian Open women’s final, where the Minister for Sport and Multicultural Affairs, Senator Kate Lundy, will welcome the new citizens.

Melbourne Victory Football Club will also host a citizenship ceremony for some 54 conferees at AAMI Park and 26 more will become citizens at the Kensington Australia Day Festival.

Queensland will welcome the most new citizens of any state, with almost 5,000 people from more than 120 countries in 82 special citizenship ceremonies today.

Brisbane City Council will host the largest single ceremony in the country at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre in Southbank, with almost 1,200 people making the citizenship pledge.

In South Australia, there will be almost 1,300 new citizens from 77 countries as the state celebrates Australia Day with 38 special citizenship ceremonies.

Tasmania will welcome more than 320 new citizens from 46 countries as the state celebrates with some 20 special Australia Day citizenship ceremonies.

In the nation’s west, Western Australia will welcome more than 2,500 new citizens from 92 countries as it celebrates Australia Day with around 80 special citizenship ceremonies in suburbs and towns across the state, from Bridgetown to Broome and Kalgoorlie to Kwinana.

Western Australia’s biggest ceremony - and the second largest in the country - will once again take place in Perth’s northern suburb of Wanneroo, where almost 700 new citizens will gather at the showgrounds to make the pledge.

The Northern Territory will welcome more than 260 new citizens from 41 countries as the Top End celebrates Australia Day with seven special citizenship ceremonies today. Highlights will include the ceremonies hosted by the councils of Darwin, Palmerston and Alice Springs.

Mr Bowen said the newest Australians joined the more than four and a half million others who had chosen to become Australian citizens since the first citizenship ceremony in 1949.

“On behalf of the Australian Government and the people of Australia, I congratulate all new citizens as they mark the end of their migrant journey and the start of their new lives as Australians,” he said.

Media Contacts: Laura Stevens 0432 833 769 (Friday) / James Cullen 0409 719 879 (Saturday)

For information about and/or interviews with new citizens in your local area, contact DIAC’s National Communications Branch on (02) 6264 2244.