The West

A record number of people will become citizens this Australia Day, marking the end of the migrant journey and the start of their new lives in Australia, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen says.

Mr Bowen says 17,059 people from 145 countries will become Australian citizens today, with 430 ceremonies planned across the nation.

Australia Day is always the most popular day for citizenship ceremonies, he says.

“Australia Day is a special day for all Australians to come together to celebrate what is great about our nation - our rich history and our promising future,” Mr Bowen said in a statement.

“It is also a fitting opportunity for all of us - whether Australians by birth or by choice - to recognise our common bond and unique diversity while celebrating the privileges and responsibilities of Australian citizenship.”

Queensland will naturalise the most people - almost 5000.

Brisbane City Council will host the largest single ceremony at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, where about 1200 people will become Australians.

NSW and Victoria will each welcome 3800 new citizens, South Australia 1300, Western Australia 2500, Tasmania 320 and the Northern Territory 260.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Julia Gillard will confer citizenship on 22 people in the national flag-raising and citizenship ceremony in Canberra.

“On behalf of the Australian government and the people of Australia, I congratulate all new citizens as they mark the end of their migrant journey and the start of their new lives as Australians,” Mr Bowen said.

More than four-and-a-half million people have become Australian citizens since the first ceremony in 1949, he said.

The West Australian

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