Media release: Wednesday, 9 July 2008
The National Archives has joined forces with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to highlight the importance of the Australian Constitution to all citizens, new and old.
Special citizenship ceremonies in Canberra and Brisbane took place today (9 July) to mark Constitution Day, in conjunction with the launch of Making Australia Home, a project by the National Archives to digitise migrant records.
To encourage people to reflect on, and celebrate, the meaning and continuing importance of the Constitution, the National Archives of Australia has suggested an annual commemoration on 9 July.
As the date in 1900 on which Queen Victoria signed her Assent to the Act, it marks the creation of the Australian Constitution – and the nation of Australia.
Presiding over the Constitution Day citizenship ceremony in Brisbane will be Her Excellency the Governor of Queensland, Ms Quentin Bryce AC. Cabinet Secretary, Senator John Faulkner, will preside in Canberra.
'We are delighted to be working with the National Archives on this occasion and see July 9 as an opportunity to celebrate the aspects of life that unite all Australians today, whatever their place of birth,' Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) Andrew Metcalfe said.
'It is particularly fitting that the nation is able to welcome these new Australian citizens on such a significant day.'
Ross Gibbs, Director-General of the National Archives of Australia, said that while most Australians recognise the nation's British heritage, they did not always realise that the Constitution drew on the best ideas of a range of older nations.
'We would like to help all Australians to recognise the part the Constitution plays in their lives today,' he said. 'Without that document and the law it founds, we would have no parliament, no government and no Australian courts. In fact we would have no Australia as we know it today.'
See also the full text of the Australian Constitution.
National Archives: Yvonne Kennedy (02) 6212 3755 or 0450 346 998; Elizabeth Masters (02) 6212 3957, 0427 853 664
DIAC: National Communications (02) 6264 2244