(Message from Hon Tony Abbott Prime Minister of Australia on Australia Day)
Your Excellency, General Hurley and other military chiefs, Adam Goodes and other Australians of the Year, Adam Gilchrist the Chair of the National Australia Day Council and Aunty Agnes and other indigenous elders.
Today, across our country, we celebrate one of the greatest gifts imaginable – to be Australian. While Australia Day formally marks the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet, today celebrates something richer and deeper. We celebrate the nation and the people we have become.
We are the grateful inheritors of two rich strands of history: a British heritage and an Aboriginal one. The First Australians – along with the millions from around the world who have made their home here since 1788 – have become one people, sharing one land.
We are fulfilling the aspiration in the opening words of our Constitution: ‘that we the people….have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth’.
Twenty three million of us have found unity in our diversity, respect in our differences and have built a modern nation on the idea that all of us can get ahead provided we are prepared to “have a go”. This Australia Day, we welcome the thousands of new Australian citizens who have chosen to “join our team”.
It is a fitting day to celebrate new citizens as it was on 26 January 1788 that Australia’s first modern migrants arrived. Today, as Stephanie has already mentioned, is a significant milestone as it is the 65th anniversary of the Australian Citizenship Act.
Since that time, more than 4.5 million people from all around the globe have chosen our country as their home. I am proud to say that one of those families was my own.
On 7 September 1960, along with my father, mother and sister, I left Tilbury in England for Australia.
My parents had great hope in Australia. My wife had great hope in Australia when she came here from New Zealand in 1983. Australia has not disappointed them.
My hope is that it won’t disappoint anyone. My duty, as your Prime Minister, is to ensure that, as far as possible, in this great land of ours, no one is left behind.
To the men and women taking the Citizenship Pledge here today – and to the almost 18,000 taking the Pledge around Australia, I say “welcome to the team”. You – our newest citizens – will play your part in building our country and making it your home.
Today we celebrate the history that has made us who we are; the country that we love and the values and institutions that underpin it. May God bless you and may God bless our country on this special day.