Brighton Town Hall
Wednesday, 25 September 2019
Your Worship, Mayor Heffernan, State parliamentary colleagues, Bayside councillors, citizenship candidates, families and friends.
Yes, tonight I address you as a civic leader.
Perhaps more importantly I address you as the son of migrant parents.
My late father, Leslie Thomas Rowswell, was born in the United Kingdom in 1920 and came to Australia at the age of five. He grew up in St Kilda during the Great Depression. He served Australia on the beaches and in the jungles of Papua New Guinea during World War II. He worked hard, and in every sense he was a generous man.
My mother, Josephine, was born in India in 1947, the year of independence in her mid-20’s she migrated to Australia, arriving at Essendon Airport. She worked four, sometimes five, jobs to sustain herself and provide for her family. She taught me hard work, selflessness and generosity.
Because of my parent’s decision to migrate to Australia, because of your decision to become Australian citizens, our communities – indeed our nation – is so much stronger and so much richer.
Dear friends, the first line of our national anthem reads: Australians all let us rejoice for we are young and free.
Yes, we are free. We are free because of the service and sacrifice of some 102,881 Australian men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend our Australian way of life.
Our freedom has been forged in their sacrifice. Our freedom has been forged with their blood.
As new Australians, you now have a responsibility to defend our freedom also.
The freedom to elect and be elected as civic leaders.
The freedom to assemble and participate in the political process.
The freedom to express yourself and worship in accordance with your beliefs.
My aspiration for every one of you is that – with the conferring of your citizenship tonight – you become Australian patriots.
That you love our country and love our flag, respect our institutions, customs and traditions and that above all else you rejoice that tonight you have been gifted the envy of the world: Australian citizenship.