PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 7360


Photo of Hawke, Robert

Hawke, Robert

Period of Service: 11/03/1983 to 20/12/1991

More information about Hawke, Robert on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 19/07/1988

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 7360

0 103
At the outset, I want to offer my congratulations to the
true guests of honor of today's ceremony the 103 people
who are about to become citizens of Australia.
As a group, you represent an enormous diversity of people
and nations. You have come from twenty five different
countries from Europe, Asia, the Pacific and the Americas;
from countries as large as the United States and as
small as Mauritius;
from a country as old as democracy itself, Greece, and
from Italy, one of the cradles of Western civilisations;
from places which have been the source of Australian
settlers for all of our two hundred years of continuous
settlement, that is the United Kingdom and Ireland, and
from our newer sources of immigrants, such as Korea and
Let me, for the record, list the background of all the
people here today. There are nineteen Yugoslavs, sixteen
Italians, thirteen Britons, ten Greeks, and people from
Argentina, Albania, Chile, Cyprus, East Timor, Fiji, India,
Ireland, Korea, Lebanon, Malta, Malaysia, Mauritius, the
Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, the Philippines,
Romania, Turkey, the USA, and Vietnam,
So you represent most of the major ethnic communities in
Australia and a large number of the smaller ones.
In short, you represent in your diversity the diversity of
the world.
But for all your diversity as a group, you have all as
individuals arrived at the same decision.
For all your different ages and backgrounds and lengths of
time spent in Australia, you are all about to make the same
commitment by taking on the same rights and
responsibilities as citizens of Australia.

And it is for that reason that tremendous decision you
have taken and you are about to implement that I offer you
my most sincere congratulations.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I want to take the opportunity of this citizenship ceremony
to say something about my Government's thinking on the broad
issues of citizenshipabout
what it means to become citizens of Australia, and
what it means to Australians to welcome newcomers as our
fellow citizens.
Last week in Canberra I had the pleasure of playing host to
the Prime Minister of Ireland, Charles Haughey, who was
visiting Australia as part of our Bicentennial celebrations.
A very large number of Australians of course proudly claim
an Irish heritage. In the Parliamentary dinner held in honor
of Mr Haughey's visit in the Great Hall of the new
Parliament House, I said that like so many people who had
come to settle in Australia from overseas, Irish Australians
retained as they should the love of their land of
But for the Irish-Australians, as it is for so many new
settlers in Australia, what is paramount is the commitment
to their new home, to Australia.
in a similar vein, I had the memorable experience in Sydney
earlier this year of speaking at a dinner of the Lebanese
community. Present at the dinner were representatives of the entire
spectrum of Lebanese Christian and Muslim groups, meeting
together in an atmosphere of harmony and community spirit.
The point is that they, too, have left behind them the
bitterness and divisiveness which so tragically afflicts
their homeland, and have devoted themselves, together, to
building a better Australia.
As I put it in my speech to the nation on Australia Day
Australia's bicentennial day it doesn't matter whether
your family has been in Australia for 40,000 years or for
seven or eight generations, or whether you have just
arrived. What does matter is whether you are committed to Australia.
we are, and essentially we remain, a nation of immigrants
a nation drawn from 130 nations as well as from one of the
world's oldest cultures, the Australian Aboriginal culture.
It is this very diversity that makes us special among the
nations of the world, and that makes us a strong and
resilient community.

Because from the day the First Fleet arrived through the
fever of the Gold Rush through the growth into nationhood
and the sacrifice of two world wars through the massive
surge of immigration after 1945 as we built the foundations
of a modern economy and through the trauma of the Vietnam
War and its aftermath Australians for the entirety of our
two hundred years of national development have had to accept
the fact of our racial and ethnic diversity.
I do not pretend that diversity has always been fully
appreciated, or that newcomers have been made as welcome
among us as they deserved.
But I do assert that, fundamentally, what unites us is far
greater than what may seem to divide us. We are united by
sharing a common land, sharing a common loyaltjiyto the
institutions of our society, and sharing a common aspiration
to build a future of peace and prosperity for our children.
Throughout these two centuries the key to Australia's
growth, the secret of Australia's success, has been the fact
that regardless of their origin, people have continued to
identify themselves as Australians as you are doing today.
And for two hundred years these people have made good that
commitment to Australia by devoting their labor to the
protection of our peace and the enlargement of our
prosperity. Ladies and gentlemen,
In pinpointing what makes us distinctively Australian we
acknowledge the enormous debt we owe to Britain.
Britain has given us the basis of many of the institutions
of our free society: our system of Parliamentary democracy,
the principles of rule by law and the protection of the
rights of the individual under the law, our system of
liberal education.
English is our national language and we provide the means to
those from different language backgrounds to acquire skills
in English. British migrants continue to come to Australia
in large numbers and to be very welcome among us.
And we also need to acknowledge the great enrichment our
society has received from people of other nations and
civil isations.
I have mentioned the Irish, whose great contribution goes
back 200 years. And I want to pay tribute to those who have
come here, particularly since the Second World War, from
such countries as Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia, the
Netherlands, Malta, Poland, Germany, Lebanon, Turkey, and,
more recently, from Vietnam and other Asian countries, and
Latin America.
We should recognise that circumstances have often been
difficult for such communities. But notwithstanding
residual pockets of racism and prejudice, those communities

are now widely recognised as having made a tremendous
contribution to Australia and are very much welcomed here.
On behalf of the Government, I want to say that they will
continue to be welcome here and their fellow countrymen and
women will continue to be welcome here.
In surveying Australia today, it is perhaps invidious to
single out the contribution of particular immigrants for
mention. But some names readily spring to mind.
Names like that of Dr Victor Chang, the eminent
transplant specialist, who has devoted himself to saving
the lives of his fellow Australians, whatever their
background; Or Franco Belgiorno-Nettis, who not only has played a
major role in the development of Australian industry,
and in patronage of the arts, but who now, in his
support for the Australian pavilion at the Venice
Biennale, is proudly proclaiming his adopted country to
his country of origin;
Or Alex Tzannes, the eminent Australian architect
responsible for the design of the Bicentennial pavilion
in Centennial Park, Sydney; or Imants Tillers who
painted the mural within it;
Or Jenny Kee, whose exciting and innovative designs have
introduced Australian motifs and colour to the world
fashion scene; or Judy Cassab, one of Australia's most
distinguished artists, twice winner of the Archibald
Prize; or Dr Alessandra Pucci, Qantas Businesswoman of
the Year.
Or in the field of sporting prowess, an area of
passionate interest to so many Australians, where
immigration has had a tremendously beneficial effect on
our country. What Australians of diverse backgrounds
can achieve together has been shown in the past few days
by the likes of Frank Arok and Eddie Thomson, Charlie
Yankos and Paul Wade, Vlado Bozinovski and Scott
Ollerenshaw, Frank Farina and Graham Jennings,
Oscar Crino and Alan Davidson, wearing the green and
gold of Australia with pride and distinction.
Being Australian is not determined by where you come from,
or how you dress, or what you eat, or what sport you play.
It is not determined by the language that you speak at home
or the religion that you practice. It is not determined by
the colour of your skin.
It is only determined, as the contribution of so many new
settlers proves, by your commitment to Australia.
What is that commitment?

The ultimate expression of commitment is contained in the
oath or Affirmation of Allegiance that is about to be made
by one hundred and three people.
The words of this undertaking require a declaration of
allegiance to the Queen not the Queen of Great Britain but
the Queen of Australia, th~ iHead of State of a mature and
independent nation.
The words of the undertaking also require a promise to
observe the laws of Australia and fulfil the duties of an
Australian citizen.
Last year, that commitment was made by nearly 75,000 people
and we applaud their decision. But remarkably, there are
still an estimated one million Australian residents who are
qualified to become Australian citizens but who have not
done so.
We do not seek to make citizenship compulsory, and we will
not make it so.
But I do want to use this opportunity to urge as many people
as possible to follow your example to express their
commitment to Australia by taking on the rights and the
responsibilities of Australian citizenship.
Such a commitment is entirely consistent with our policy of
multiculturalism: accepting and celebrating our diversity
and forging it into a unified Australia.
A multicultural Australia is one in which Australians have
an equal right to participate in all aspects of the nation's
life. Just as importantly, it is one where all Australians
are encouraged to take up an equitable share of the
responsibilities for the country's future.
This concept of multiculturalism has come in for some
ill-informed criticism in recent times; ill-informed
criticism that is sometimes accompanied by crude
The policy of multiculturalism is not, as is frequently
alleged, an attempt to fragment Australian society or to
create ghettos. It recognises the fact of diversity in
Australia and the socially enriching value of diversity.
But our policy of multiculturalism. also insists that all
Australians, of whatever origin, accept the overarching:
principles and institutions which make us one single nation.
Multiculturalism does not seek to import or entrench
division into the Australian community. And I reject
utterly any suggestion that it has in fact done so.
It is unfortunate that much of this criticism has followed
on from the release of the FitzGerald Report on Australia's
Immigration Policies a Report which was commissioned as

part of the Government's continuing monitoring of the role
of immigration in the development of Australia.
Let me emphasise that the Report has not even been
considered, let alone adopted, by the Government and in no
way constitutes " a blueprint for Government policy" as it
has been described in the press in the past couple of days.
The Government is currently undertaking a wide series of
consultations on the Report's recommendations, and it would
not be proper for me to pre-empt this process by discussing
the Report or its recommendations tonight.
But it is right, indeed it is necessary, that I say this.
If those who, for whatever reason, have embarked on a
deliberate campaign of misinformation about our policies on
immigration or multiculturalism hope that they will thereby
overturn them, then they are badly mistaken.
There will be no return to the past. The white Australia
policy is dead and buried.
The central principles of our immigration policies are
non-negotiable. Immigration will continue to be based on
our national interest. It will continue to be
non-discriminatory. Family reunion will remain a vital
component of it. We will continue to play our part in
meeting the great humanitarian obligation to provide a haven
for refugees fleeing oppression overseas.
Despite all our history of immigration, despite all the
contributions to Australia by immigrants, despite all the
promise the future holds, there are those who want to be
taken seriously when they say Australia should turn its back
on many of its rich sources of immigrants.
But who would dare tell me that this very electorate of
wills which is one of the most ethnically diverse in
Australia is not distinctly Australian? who seriously
claims it is not as some would have it " authentically"
Au s tral1i an?
Let us face facts: The idea that Australia would be-somehow
better off if it had drawn new settlers from some countries
alone is absurd and repugnant. We should all proclaim this
loudly and without hesitation.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me conclude as I began by addressing some comments
directly to the 103 people who are about to become
Australian citizens.
Each of you brings to these offices in Preston a life story
which is the stuff of human drama.
You come from different backgrounds and different individual
circumstances. when you leave you will go to different
homes, different jobs.

But to put these individual differences to one side for a
moment, it is clear you have all come for basically the same
You have come because you seek the special qualities of
peace, prosperity and harmony which characterise the
Australian lifestyle.
As Prime Minister of Australia I sincerely and
wholeheartedly welcome your decision to take up Australian
As the local member for Wills I express my pride at your new
commitment to Australia.
And as a citizen of Australia I welcome you as my
When you leave today, you will be taking with you all the
rights and all the obligations of Australian citizenship.
I urge on you the task of helping ensure Australia remains
peaceful remains prosperous remains harmonious so that
it remains what I assert it is simply, the greatest nation
in the world.

Transcript 7360