168 new citizens pledge allegiance at Australia Day ceremony in shire

One hundred and sixty eight men, women and children from every corner of the earth were united as one at the Australia Day citizenship ceremony at Sutherland Entertainment Centre.

Together, they pledged their loyalty to Australia and its people, democratic beliefs, rights, liberties and laws.

Hundreds of excited supporters, along with MPs and councillors, were present for the Sutherland Shire Council organised ceremony.

Afterwards, the crowd was treated to a barbecue and bush band music.

Ilija Stojanov, of Kirrawee, who came to Australia from the Republic of Macedonia in 2010, was watched by his wife Blagica and daughters Aleksandrija, 13, and Filipija, 15, who are already citizens.

For this family, it was "a triple celebration" - citizenship, Australia Day and Filipija's fifteenth birthday.

"It was a lovely ceremony, with more than 150 people of varied nationalities," Mr Stojanov said. "It was well organised and I thank the mayor and his team."

Luke McClelland, of Miranda, said he knew he wanted citizenship six months after coming to Australia from Britain.

"It felt like home - great people, great community and a great way of life," he said.

"The ceremony was brilliant. They have them at other times of the year, too, but I always hoped I would be on Australia Day."

Taking Australian citizenship was a long journey for Richard Hedley, of Cronulla after moving from New Zealand 20 years ago.

Mr Hedley said he finally took the step because his mates at Cronulla Surf Life Saving Club, where he has been a member for 10 years, "kept geeing me up".

His wife Yvette said, "He is more Australian than I am with his budgie smugglers and surf patrols".

Forty-two of the new citizens come from the United Kingdom, 28 from China, 11 from New Zealand, 10 from the Philippines, six from Iran, six from Thailand, four from Brazil and four from South Africa.

Other recipients are from Bosnia & Herzegovina, France and Republic of Ireland, Poland and United States (three each), Macedonia, Germany, Yugoslavia, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Croatia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, South Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, Nepal, Northern Ireland, Paraguay, Peru, Russia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Turkmenistan, USSR, Ukraine and Vietnam.

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