Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen

First, I thank Uncle Collin for his warm welcome to country and pay my respects to elders past and present, and any elders in attendance.

It is a privilege to preside over this citizenship ceremony today.

I am quite a new Governor. Having been in the role for just a few months, I have been particularly keen to hold this Citizenship ceremony here at Government House.

It is important to me. First, it sits so well with the role of the Governor. Secondly, it resonates with me on a personal level.  The Governor represents the Queen as the independent Head of State of Victoria. He or she has three main duties.

The first is as the guardian of the Victorian Constitution on behalf of the people of Victoria, making sure that the Victorian Parliament acts within its boundaries and that there is a smooth transition between governments.

The second is to represent the people of Victoria on important ceremonial occasions, such as ANZAC Day or Australia Day, for example. 

And the third is for the Governor to work right across the State and with all different people and communities to encourage, facilitate and celebrate success in all aspects of the life of this State. And as a leader with no political association, the Governor acts as a symbol of unity, seeking to represent and understand the whole Victorian community and encouraging mutual respect and confidence.

What better way to represent the people of the State than to officiate at a ceremony to welcome you, our newest Australians and Victorians today in this House: a House for all Victorians.

The second reason for my particular interest in this Citizenship Ceremony is that like 43% of Australians, I have a parent who was born overseas, who came here in difficult circumstances, but dearly loved this country in which he could safely raise and educate his children.

I should add that 3 of the last 6 Governors before me were, like almost 25% of Australians, born overseas (in Ireland, Sri Lanka and Lithuania), and one other was born to recently arrived Italian parents.

I am conscious that you arrive here from different backgrounds and life experiences, some very difficult indeed.

Against that backdrop, and depending on language and culture, the settling process may be significantly easier or harder.

But I am sure that what you share in common with each other and indeed with all Australians, or Victorians, is the desire for a safe, good, calm life and the best possible opportunities for yourselves and your children. And a common respect for our stable democracy.

In closing, I want to share two thoughts with you that I expressed in the course of the recent inauguration in which I became the Governor. One is from the Australian Anthem. The other from Victoria’s State motto.

The second verse of the Australian Anthem (now your anthem) is the verse less often sung but it contains these important words:

For those who've come across the seas, 
We've boundless planes to share 
With courage let us all combine 
To Advance Australia Fair

I particularly appreciate that call for us, with courage, to combine. It is a realistic recognition that sometimes it does take courage to put aside or see past difference, to see what unites rather than what divides us, and to combine with each other rather than to retreat with our own.

The Victorian State motto (now your motto) is quite straightforward. It calls for “Peace and Prosperity”. I see a broad interpretation within that.

“Peace” comes to us, not just because we don’t fight with each other, but also when we each have a sense of belonging, of being respected and valued.

And “prosperity” does not relate just to wealth, but the capacity for a fair opportunity to achieve all that we might - for ourselves and our families - whether that is in terms of employment or study, or general well-being.

And so I wish for you, as I do for all Victorians, the courage to combine with your fellow Australian citizens, and I wish you all peace and prosperity.

I congratulate you on becoming Australian citizens. And I hope that you love it as much as my family does.