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Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Page: 2392

Mrs PRENTICE (Ryan) (09:42): On Australia Day, I had the privilege of welcoming many new citizens to my electorate. It was a global gathering, with new Australians from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada, China, Mauritius, India, Uganda, Brazil, South Africa, the Philippines, Malaysia, Colombia, and South Korea. As Co-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of the Australian Flag, I was delighted to see Mr Allan Pidgeon, President of the Australian National Flag Association at our ceremony. Our flag was of course prominently displayed on the stage and I was proud to present each new citizen with their own at this event and at a number of other Australia Day events within the Ryan electorate. We also provided an information kit explaining the history and traditions of our flag and of our national anthem and explaining our indigenous flora and fauna.

Each year, more than 100,000 people settle in Australia, contributing to the social, cultural and economic development of this country. And I know that these new citizens who 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 the Ryan electorate and in Australia.

We are often witness to the struggles of people in other countries fighting to build democracies, a system of government that we take for granted. I find it particularly heartening to hear new citizens pledge themselves and commit to the future of Australia and to our democratic system of government. I would particularly like to thank the Rotary Club of Toowong for again hosting one of the ceremonies: President Caroline Cottman, and most especially the club director of community services, Len Hepburn, who, as well as other members, volunteered on the day to make the event a great success. As a non-political, non-religious organisation of business and professional leaders, the Rotary organisation world wide has the core mission of providing humanitarian services, encouraging high ethical standards in all vocations and helping build goodwill and peace in the world. Many of the ceremonies in Ryan on Australia Day were organised and hosted by Rotary clubs and other services organisations. The Inner West Lions Club and Councillor Julian Simmonds added an extra Australiana feel to their event by including a koala from Lone Pine to welcome new citizens—indeed, the very same koala who greeted the Queen on her recent visit. The Rotary Club of Toowong, one of nearly 32,000 branches worldwide, was chartered in 1965 and since then has developed a very broad range of humanitarian and community service projects that serve as an important safety net for residents in Ryan, providing financial and technical resources and people for a broad range of community service projects within our local area as well as nationally and 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 help others. I look forward to attending many more such ceremonies throughout the year and welcoming new citizens to Australia on behalf of the citizens of Ryan. I believe that our communities are like the environment—through diversity comes strength.