FIVE new citizens were welcomed during Sunday’s Australia Day ceremony in Bega.
In several cases, “welcomed” may not be the most apt term as they have already lived here for 30 years or more.
Taking the oath were:
* David Beck from Wolumla. Formerly of New Zealand, Mr Beck said he has been here for five years and felt he “should commit to the country you live and nurture in”.
* John Lea of Tura Beach. Mr Lea moved to Australia from England as a 10-pound migrant 43 years ago - “The best 10 pounds I’ve ever spent, there’s absolutely nothing to be negative about.”
* Tazeen B Taj from Bega. Originally from Bangladesh, Ms Taj said it was the warmth of the people here that made her decision to become naturalised an easy one.
* “Juls” from Cobargo. Juls moved here from Malta as a six-year-old - 50 years ago! “I thought I’d better do something about it,” he said to laughs from the crowd. “I was amazed at how big it was… the freedom. It was an innocent country when I got here.”
* Brian Silvester from Bega. As a New Zealander, Mr Silvester copped some ribbing from emcee John Watkin. “Did you get special permission to come over?” he asked. Mr Silvester said he crossed the ditch 30 years ago “for an adventure, met my wife and stayed”.
After pledging their allegiance to Australia, Mayor Bill Taylor congratulated them all on what he said could have been a difficult decision.
“But I think you’ll find citizenship is something to be treasured and celebrated.”