There is harmony in Australia despite extraordinary diversity, says PM Turnbull
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On 26 January, the whole of Australia paused for a day to celebrate what it means to have a great nation. As Blacktown City Mayor Stephen Bali said in his speech during the Australia Day celebration, “Australia Day is an opportunity to strongly and proudly celebrate the values of multiculturalism, tolerance and freedom.” Indeed, Australia’s diverse society and landscape make it a stronger nation.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in his speech during the Australia Day national flag raising and citizenship ceremony in Canberra that there were more than 400 citizenship ceremonies all over Australia receiving 16,000 new citizens from 150 countries. “You come from 11 different countries, and each of you adds another thread to our national tapestry, magnificent in its diversity and the most successful multicultural society in the world,” he said.
Coming from nearly 200 countries with different religious beliefs, cultures and backgrounds, the Prime Minister said there is harmony in Australia despite extraordinary diversity. “In a world where conflict and intolerance seem more intractable than ever, we live together in peace,” he said.
In Melbourne, the Australia Day celebration was memorable as people visited the GPO Building in Bourke Street Mall where five people died and nearly 40 people injured following the recent deadly car rampage by 26-year-old Dimitrious Gargasoulas. Those who attended the Australia Day parade visited the site and offered flowers, teddy bears and wrote messages for the innocent victims.
A few metres away where the tragedy happened, more than 90 cultural and community groups were preparing to join the annual Australia Day Parade. Hordes of people lined up Bourke and Swanston Streets to watch the colourful display of various groups wearing traditional costumes showing their traditions and cultures or the special groups they represent.
The Filipino Community Council of Victoria headed the Filipino delegation in the parade, with the Association of Filipino Australians in Gippsland Ati-Atihan providing the rhythmic drumbeats.
There were food trucks, family entertainment and fireworks from top of Docklands stadium at Harbour Esplanade. At the Kings Domain Gardens, the RACV Australia Day Festival provided free activities, food trucks and more family entertainment. The Government House and the Old Treasury Building were opened the whole day with tours running every hour.
In other states and territories, there were special programs and events held. A number of people headed to the beaches or had backyard barbecues with friends and family members.