Australia welcomes over 14,000 new citizens

28 January 2008

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Australia welcomed over 14,000 new citizens on Australia Day of this year, celebrated annually across the country on 26 January.

According to Australia's immigration minister, Senator Chris Evans, these new citizens would join more than four million other immigrants who have become Australian citizens since citizenship legislation was introduced in 1949.

This year's new citizens originate from 114 countries. On Australia Day last year, 12,500 people from 111 countries became Australian citizens.

Australia Day is the official holiday in which Australians celebrate the establishment of the first European settlement on the continent. It is also the foundation date of a British penal colony by Captain Arthur Phillip, who would become Australia's first Governor.

Australian citizenship was introduced on Australia Day in 1949 with the passing of the Australia Citizenship Act of 1948. Previously, Australians were considered British subjects only, sharing a common nationality code with the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries during that time.

The first citizenship ceremony took place in February 1949 at Albert Hall in Canberra.

"Becoming an Australian citizen shows commitment and loyalty to this country and a desire to share in our common future," Evans said.

Evans noted that Australia has been enriched by the cultures and traditions of immigrants from over 200 nations who have made the country their home.

"The common bond that unites us all is citizenship," he said.