Tim Soutphommasane; 26/1/10
If you are still unsure about how to celebrate Australia Day, I offer a suggestion. Whenever January 26 approaches, you hear complaints about people not caring enough about the day, about how the occasion is somehow devoid of meaning. Others regard this as just the usual self-loathing of intellectuals who find that there is patriotism in hating one’s countrymen. This year has been no different. But there is at least one group of people for whom Australia Day will represent more than just a day off work. Across the country today, in parks, squares and town halls, there will be ceremonies conferring Australian citizenship on 16,500 immigrants. For them, it will be the culmination of a new commitment to this country. Last year, I went to Sydney’s Hyde Park to observe one of these ceremonies. The mood was buoyant. A large crowd gathered before the stage. When the new citizens took their oath of loyalty, all citizens present joined in pledging “my loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey”. Everyone then sang Advance Australia Fair.
Tags: Australia Day