29 January 2013

Record numbers take up Australian citizenship on national holiday

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While the entire country took to the beaches, the parks and neighbours' homes to celebrate Australia Day, record numbers also took the occasion to obtain their Australian citizenship.

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Actress Miriam Margolyes receives her Australian citizenship from Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Australia Day.

A record 17,059 people became Australian citizens on 26 January, this year, transitioning from various visas and residency statuses to become fully fledged Australians.

Queensland gained the most new citizens, with 5,000 taking the oath in total, including 1,200 alone at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

A total of 430 individual ceremonies took place across the country and gave Immigration Minister Chris Bowen a chance to highlight the welcoming nature of Australia and the popularity of the nation the world over.

"Australia Day is a special day for all Australians to come together to celebrate what is great about our nation - our rich history and our promising future," said Mr Bowen.

"It is also a fitting opportunity for all of us - whether Australians by birth or by choice - to recognise our common bond and unique diversity while celebrating the privileges and responsibilities of Australian citizenship.

"I encourage those becoming new citizens today to help in building up our nation and we look forward to the contribution you will make to our national story."

In the capital Canberra, Prime Minister Julia Gillard herself oversaw a citizenship ceremony featuring British Australian actress Miriam Margolyes - best known as Professor Sprout from the Harry Potter franchise.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy.

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