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50th anniversary of Australian citizenship.



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Media Release

 

The Hon. Philip Ruddock MP

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs

 

MPS 02/99

 

50th ANNIVERSARY OF AUSTRALIAN CITIZENSHIP

 

The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock today said there could be no cle arer indication of Australia’s development as a multicultural nation than a comparison of new Australian citizens in 1949 and 1998.

 

“In 1949, less than 3,000 migrants and their families from 37 countries in Europe and the Middle East became our first citizens,” Mr Ruddock said.

 

“Last year, more than 112,300 people from 140 countries all over the world showed their commitment to Australia by becoming Australian citizens”.

 

Mr Ruddock was speaking as co-host of the Australian of the Year awards at the Brisbane City Hall at which Prime Minister John Howard officially launched the 50 th Anniversary of Australian citizenship.

 

“Australian citizenship is a common bond we all share — indigenous people, descendants of earlier generations of settlers and the millions of migrants who have actively chosen to become citizens since 1949. In that sense, citizenship is fundamental to our national unity and has provided a focal point for our unique identity and civic values."

 

Mr Ruddock said that although Australia had been a self-governing federation for nearly 100 years, it was only on 26 January 1949 that the status of Australian Citizen was created.

 

The Government is encouraging Australians to both celebrate and reflect on their citizenship. Last year Mr Ruddock announced the establishment of the Australian Citizenship Council , under the chair of the former Governor General, Sir Ninian Stephen, to consider mechanisms to make Australian citizenship more significant for all Australians.

 

Some of the special activities organised to mark the 50th Anniversary of Citizenship include:

 

·  Sponsorship of the National Australia Day Council’s “Visions program of radio and television community service announcements, featuring messages from prominent Australians

 

·  Release by Australia Post of a commemorative stamp on January 14

 

·  Release of celebration products, including memento pins featuring the 50th Anniversary logo

 

·  Hosting of the “Individual, Community, Nation; 50 Years of Australian Citizenship” conference on Australian citizenship at the University of Melbourne in July, 1999

 

·  Sponsorship of a schools website competition

 

·  An essay and artistic design competition for schoolchildren

 

·  A ceremony to commemorate the first Australian Citizenship ceremony - on 3 February 1949 - which will be held at the original venue in Canberra next week.

 

Mr Ruddock said these celebrations will help to ensure that the values of Australian citizenship are preserved and expanded over the course of the next 50 years.

 

ENDS

Monday, 25 January, 1999

 

Media inquiries: Brad Robinson 0419 278 715

 

 

 

LK