Minister Shorten address at the Moonee Valley City Council Australian Citizenship Ceremony

BILL SHORTEN MP, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: Good afternoon, everyone. First of all, I’d like to thank the lady who just spoke, Cathy Connop. She runs the Farnham Street Neighbourhood Learning Centre. She’s been doing it for decades. Do pop in and visit. She has done as much for the community as she is humble. And it's really nice to see someone of her quality being recognised as Citizen of the Year for Moonee Valley because people like Cathy make this just a better place to live. Well done, Cathy.

I'd like to thank Mayor Pierce Tyson and his team of counsellors for inviting me here. I acknowledge them and all the other distinguished guests, including Trung Luu, the Liberal member for Western metropolitan province and Moira Deeming, also representing people in the western suburbs.

And I also should on this day acknowledge that, long before there was any migration, Aboriginal people were here and I pay my respects to elder's past and present. And I think we're very lucky in this amazing country of ours to have amongst us people who've got a continuing connection to this land for 60,000 years. 

Now, I'm a federal Member of Parliament, which means I represent this area in Canberra. I live in the local area, my office is up this is up the road in Hall Street. But I've got an official thing I have to do to help make sure that you can become citizens, I have to read you a message, a message from the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Andrew Giles. 

So, what I will do as part of today's ceremony is read you the message and make a couple of little points at the end, then we can get on with the exciting part of hearing other people, other guests and, of course, you becoming Australian citizens formally. 

So this is the official message. 

Thank you for deciding to become an Australian citizen. Today you join a nation that is one of the world's most successful multicultural societies. With around half of all Australians either born overseas, or at least one parent born overseas. In Australia, everyone can be proud of who they are. And everyone should be respected, valued, and feel a sense of belonging.

We are privileged to share this beautiful country with the world's oldest continuing culture. This is a fundamental part of who we are. For more than 60,000 years, First Nations peoples have cared for country. Appreciating and understanding this truth is a vital part of what it means to be Australian.
Australians are united by our shared commitment to democracy, and the rule of law, and to freedom of speech, religion and association.

Our diversity is our greatest strength and we prosper by embracing this. We believe in a society where everyone is equal, regardless of their gender, faith, sexual orientation, age, ability, race, national or ethnic origin.

Ours is the land of the fair go, in which respect and compassion underpin our care for each other, and our willingness to reach out to those around us in times of need.

By becoming an Australian citizen, you make a commitment to these values, and to contribute to our evolving Australian story. 
On behalf of the Australian Government, heartfelt congratulations on becoming an Australian citizen. 

So that's from the Minister for Immigration Andrew Giles representing the Government of Australia. 

And finally, I just want to say that this is a really good day. Every day in this country is a good day. I understand that on Australia Day, there's now a legitimate discussion about what that means. And if you're an Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander you can feel quite confronted by the European settlement of this country, and I respect that.

But the reason why I say this is a good day, whilst acknowledging that legitimate discussion, is that quite often, all around Australia, people who bring their own personal stories join the Australian story and become citizens. 

And that's why I like today, because what I see here is a hall full of good Australians. What I see here is people, and I don't know every one of your backstories, some of you might have come here because you came here for work and decided never to go home. Some of you might have come here and fallen in love with an Australian and decided never to go home. Maybe some of you didn't have a choice about leaving your old country. Maybe you're a refugee. Maybe you're just simply seeking better economic opportunities for you and your family. Regardless of the reasons why you come here, you do this country a positive service by choosing to become an Australian citizen. 

Because migrants are strong people. It takes strength to leave where you are, no matter what the reasons, and start again, in a new country. It takes strength. So I see here, a hall full of strong people. I see people who will add to the success of this country. 

I also recognise that what makes a good Australian, it's not what god you worship. Or if you don't worship any. It's not who you love. It's not how much money you have in the bank that makes you a good Australian. It's not your religious or ethnic, or other backgrounds. What makes a good Australian is a willingness to raise your family well, to be a good neighbour, to work hard and to adhere to the laws of the land. 

This country is better for you choosing to join it. And in return, all this country asks is that you help make this a better country for future generations. 

Congratulations and thank you very much.