“The most successful and cohesive immigration and multicultural nation on earth. The home of the world’s oldest living human culture.”
Mr Morrison said for better and worse, January 26, 1788 was the moment where “the journey to our modern Australia began”.
“There is no escaping or cancelling this fact. And it is this continuing Australian journey that we recognise today.“
The Prime Minister was widely condemned last week for suggesting January 26 “wasn’t a particularly flash day” for the convicts arriving on the First Fleet either.
Mr Morrison said Australia’s stories since that day had been of “sorrow and of joy”, “loss and redemption” and “failure and success”.
“Whether it is the story of our First Nation peoples’ strong, ancient and proud culture and their survival in the face of dispossession and colonisation, or the forsaken souls who came as convicts, not to start a new world, but because they had been banished from the old one. Condemned and outcast by empire, they too overcame.
“These stories do not compete with each other, they simply coexist. They weave together to create Australia.”
Addressing reporters after the citizenship ceremony, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said it was a “very difficult day for First Nations peoples”.
“First Nations peoples didn’t have a Welcome to Country for the First Fleet,” he said.
“For them, it was a time of dispossession, a time in which, literally through the frontier wars … violence occurred, and one in which we need to recognise that our history didn’t begin in 1788.”
Mr Albanese said Australia needed to work out how to avoid the divisive debate that occurred every January.
He said January 26 could be a future date for a successful vote for constitutional recognition of First Australians.
“For the First Australians, you can understand that this is a very difficult day for them. It is one of heartache and one in which they recognise what occurred to their people,” he said.
Greens leader Adam Bandt, attending an Invasion Day rally in Melbourne, said there was “unstoppable momentum” to tell the truth about the violence, murder and dispossession that was part of the foundation of Australia.
“We must be honest about the past and march towards a treaty,” Mr Bandt said.
Rob Harris is the National Affairs Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra