By Margaret Maccoll
Twenty-six new Australians came from across the globe – Africa, America, Europe and the Pacific Islands – to Noosa to make the pledge at The J Theatre on Saturday morning to participate fully in society as Australian citizens.
All had a story to tell and a reason to call Australia home. Paul Bailey was sponsored from Canada to work in Australia and sought to gain citizenship from the time he arrived. “When I came here seven years ago I absolutely fell in love with Australia,” he said.
Katia had always wanted to come to Australia and after visiting on a working holiday visa the French national ended up staying.
Shaun Small also came to Australia to work and he and his family have no plans to return to South Africa.”I think it’s one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I wouldn’t be anywhere else,” Shaun said.
“It’s a better future for our children.”
Wati moved to the country from Fiji after marrying an Australian man and on Saturday she and her children Jennifer, Dianne and Waisale became citizens.
For Waisale, or Wise as he is known, his citizenship was essential to achieve his aim to join the military.
“I absolutely love it here,” Wise said. “I’ve got a lot of friends and my love, Lucy, and there are a lot of opportunities.”
Paula and Ben Halcrow met 20 years ago in Paula’s homeland of Ireland. After living in Ireland for 12 years they moved to Australia and Paula joined the rest of her family on Saturday to proudly become a citizen.
“We have embraced every adventure. We’ve enjoyed everything Australia has to offer,” Paula said.The citizenship ceremony marked the 70th year since Australian citizenship was legalised. MC Ian McKay said since 1949 there had been more than five million Australians welcomed.
Mayor Tony Wellington who presided over the occasion described it as his most gratifying job as Mayor.
He welcomed the new citizens saying how our country’s heritage had been made richer by people from many lands.