Senate debates

Thursday, 4 February 2021


Australia Day

5:36 pm

Photo of Paul ScarrPaul Scarr (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm delighted to rise in the chamber this afternoon and speak about the list of activities I undertook on Australia Day. What a great Australia Day it was that we had on 26 January. I started my day at the Fiji Senior Citizens Association Of Queensland Inc. hub at Annerley in Brisbane for a citizenship ceremony. This place is more than a hub; it's a symbol of how good Australia can be when people from different backgrounds come together to celebrate our newest Australians. It was my honour, in the ceremony, to be the presiding officer and greet 25 new citizens to our Australian family.

I'd like to pay tribute to Mr Surendra Prasad OAM. He is the driving force behind Fiji Senior Citizens Association Of Queensland Inc. I'd like to thank Aunty Peggy Tidyman, who gave the very moving welcome to country and acknowledgement of the traditional owners. I would also like to pay tribute to Ms Agnes Whiten OAM, president of the federation of diverse cultural communities of Queensland. I could not have imagined a better person to accompany me as we raised the Australian flag that morning.

From that citizenship ceremony, I went to an Australia Day pool party put on by my good friend Councillor Sarah Hutton at the Jindalee swimming pool. I hadn't been to the Jindalee swimming pool since primary school, so it was good to go to this event and see the activities and those people having great fun while eating lamingtons, engaging in barbecues and doing everything that Australians do on Australia Day. It was especially an honour to sponsor the thong-throwing competition. It was even better to see our local police participate in the competition. It made me reflect on how great it is that we live in a country where our police can actively participate in those sorts of activities on Australia Day as police are respected and seen as protectors of the community rather than as people who pose a threat.

From there, I went to the citizenship ceremony which was put on by the Lions Club of Brisbane MacGregor. I'll give a call-out to all the great 'lions' associated with Macgregor Lions. I particularly acknowledge Mr Michael Cosgrove, Mr Ross Gibbins and the District Governor Elect, Narelle Parkins. MacGregor Lions have been putting on this citizenship ceremony for many, many years, and, on this day, 99 new citizens were welcomed to the Australian family. I'd also like to thank Aunty Norma and Aunty Cynthia for their moving welcome to country at that event.

I should say that at the first citizenship ceremony I attended, at the Fiji Senior Citizens Association of Queensland Inc., the pre-ceremony entertainment was provided by Mr Michael Po Saw, who is the President of the Australian Myanmar Friendship Association of Queensland. Michael, I acknowledge that this has been a very difficult week for the people of Myanmar and for the Myanmar diaspora in Australia, but you performed admirably, as you always do.

Finally, I concluded the day with a joint celebration, representing the Prime Minister at the Australia Day and Indian Republic Day celebration, a dinner on 26 January. Again, this was a fantastic event and a time to reflect on the ever-increasing closeness of the relationship between Australia and India and, in particular, our common democratic values which bring us together. I'd like to pay tribute to Mr Shyam Das, the President of the Federation of Indian Communities of Queensland. I'd also like to pay tribute to all of the performers on the day: the Nadananjali School of Dance; the Tapori Squad; the Yatra Music group; the Sargam Music Academy; the Taal Dance Group; and Ms Taleatha Wright-Morgan, who is an absolutely outstanding young Australian. She's an outstanding young contemporary dancer, and she's also commencing university this year. I wish her all the best. It was an honour to be in the company of your performance.