Like many members in this place, I was very pleased to take part in a range of ceremonies and activities on Australia Day. Every year I have the absolute pleasure of being the presiding officer at citizenship ceremonies in my electorate. This year we welcomed nearly 150 new Aussies at beautiful Burleigh in the morning and at Mudgeeraba later in the afternoon.
The joy and gratitude in every new citizen always fills me with pride as a member of federal parliament and as an Australian. Our new Australian citizens told me they had come to our country for a better lifestyle, better opportunities and a better life for their families. While we certainly acknowledge and recognise our histories and the challenges we face, particularly in improving outcomes for Indigenous people, our new citizens remind us that there is so much to unite us all as we go forward. Congratulations to each of our new Australians, particularly those on the Gold Coast who have literally hit the jackpot.
I also want to acknowledge the magnificent family fun day put on by the Burleigh Heads Rotary Club. Thong-throwing, damper-making and live music made for a fantastic day. Thank you to the whole team at Rotary for putting this event on; our community is much better off because of the work that you do.
Finally, I want to extend my congratulations and thank three extraordinary women on the southern Gold Coast who received official recognition for their outstanding contributions to our community in the Australia Day honours list.
Karen MacLeod received a Medal of the Order of Australia in recognition of her contribution to swimming. Sport, and swimming in particular, is integral to the Gold Coast, and Karen’s work in this area has no doubt added to our success in the pool. Congratulations, Karen.
Distinguished Professor Lyn Griffiths was recognised as a Member of the Order of Australia for her studies in genetics and neurological disorders. As a former science minister I congratulate and sincerely thank Lyn for her contribution to this field.
Finally, Detective Senior Sergeant Vanessa Wiseman was honoured with the Australian Police Medal. Vanessa’s critical police work, particularly in the areas of domestic and family violence, help to keep our communities safe and secure. In my role as the shadow minister for child protection and prevention of family violence I’ve heard some pretty harrowing stories, and I can only imagine the challenging situations that Vanessa has faced as head of the police DV unit on the Gold Coast. On behalf of our community I thank her for her service and congratulate her on this most deserved recognition.