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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 3 Hansard (18 March) . .

Page.. 893..


Like all suburbs, there are things in the suburb which could be even better. Urban maintenance, including weed and grass management, seems to be at the top of the list for many residents that I have spoken to.

Finally, I would like to place on the record my congratulations to the Crace Community Association on all their hard work and their advocacy. I wish them all the best for the party at Crace shops on 28 March. For more information about the association and the suburb of Crace, I recommend members visit their website at www.cracecommunity.com.au.

Citizenship ceremony

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (6.50): One of the more pleasant activities in which we as members of this place are able to participate is to welcome new citizens to our country. A person's decision to give up their citizenship in their home country is a monumental one; it is one that must not be made lightly. A decision to take up citizenship in a new country, often with different cultural, political, economic and religious values and ideals, and very often a different language, is a life-changing one. So to honour and pay respect to the gravity of such a decision is very important.

We do this through a formal ceremony in which new citizens are invited to pledge their allegiance to Australia. Families and friends of new citizens come along to those ceremonies to give their support to their loved ones in the decision that they have made and to celebrate with them as they enter the citizenship of their adopted country.

Typically, the formal ceremony is conducted by the Minister for Multicultural Affairs, who administers the statement of allegiance by new citizens, confers on them their Australian citizenship and presents them with their citizenship certificates. These proceedings include a welcome speech, usually by a local member of parliament as a guest speaker for the event. This is a privilege for MLAs, especially those, like me, who come from a diverse ethnic background, and most of us like to take the opportunity to highlight our backgrounds as an example for those who are taking up new citizenship.

However, in times past there have been opportunities for MLAs also to officiate. I noticed that Dr Bourke was able to officiate at the Albert Hall last week, but the opportunities for that seem to be in decline. I did raise the issue a couple of years ago with both the federal minister and the local minister, but, to date, there has not been any real change, and the opportunities for members to officiate are not a common occurrence. I encourage the minister to consider again whether there is scope for other MLAs to officiate at these ceremonies.

A few weeks after a citizenship ceremony, it becomes the pleasure of successive Speakers—and I pay tribute to my predecessor Speaker Berry for initiating this—to welcome new citizens and their families to an informal function in the Assembly. A number of MLAs are regular attendees at these functions. They provide an excellent opportunity for MLAs to connect with their newest constituents and their families.


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