Mon, 25 Jan 2010 - 23:00
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Paul's Blog - Australia Day 2010

My first Australia Day as a Member of Parliament was a classic Sydney summer day, hot, humid and a bright blue sky.

My first engagement was to join the Rotary Australia Day breakfast in Wahroonga Park.  A strong line up of locals, all of the hardworking Rotary folks and many other local community leaders.

After the breakfast, it was time for the Australia Day citizenship ceremony – held at the rotunda in the park.  Some fifty people were lucky enough to be receiving their citizenship on this important day.  The Ku-ring-gai Council Australia Day ambassador was well known sports personality and former Australian water polo Olympic medallist Debbie Watson OAM. She was joined on the panel by Ku-ring-gai Mayor Ian Cross, State Member for Ku-ring-gai and NSW Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell, and State Member for Davidson Jonathan O’Dea – and me.  Most of us had the opportunity to speak. For my part I was delighted to welcome our newest citizens – and let them know that Australia was getting a very good deal from their enthusiasm and energy.

Next, it was down the Pacific Highway to the southern end of the electorate – for the Australia Day celebrations, citizenship ceremony and community awards in Chatswood Mall, held by Willoughby Council.  Following the redistribution which took effect in December, my seat of Bradfield has only a small overlap with Willoughby Council.  (The southern border of the electorate is Ashley Street Roseville, and the northern border of Willoughby Council is Boundary St Roseville – leaving a “Willougby in Bradfield Zone” which is about 400 metres wide!)  But there is definitely still a connection – and of course historically there has been a very strong linkage.  So I am very pleased that I continue to be asked to participate in Willoughby Council events.

I arrived just as the Willoughby Ceremony was getting underway.  Mayor Pat Reilly kindly invited me to speak, and I repeated many of my remarks from earlier in the day.  It was a pleasure to observe his good natured and light hearted conduct of the event, and I was pleased to be able to join him in presenting citizenship certificates to a number of people present.  Willoughby Council’s Australia Day Ambassador Neville Roach spoke about his experiences arriving in Australia as an immigrant from India in the early sixties, and State Member for Willoughby Gladys Berejiklian also had an important role in the ceremony. 

With the Willoughby Ceremony concluded, I was able to go home for an hour or so, before heading out to watch the cricket at the Lindfield Cricket Club’s annual Australia Day contest. Again I joined my state colleagues Barry O’Farrell and Jonathan O’Dea – perhaps I will need to start calling myself Paul O’Fletcher so that I can fit in.  It was an exciting and high scoring game for the period that I was able to stay and watch.  As ever, the hard working Rotary folks were there – this time the Lindfield Club – and the ubiquitous Rotary sausage sizzle smelt just as good as it always does!

After leaving the cricket, it was over to Springdale Road in Killara, to the home of good friends Stuart and Narelle Clark.  Their beautiful home was the setting for an afternoon drinks party for local Liberal Party members, to say thank you for their efforts in the December by-election.  It was a very enjoyable event amongst friends and supporters – as a perfect Sydney summer afternoon turned to evening.

My first Australia Day as a member of parliament was certainly a busy one.  But it was a lot of fun – and a great privilege to be able to share the moment when so many people obtained their Australian citizenship.