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New citizen Richard’s keen to embrace all things ‘Aussie’… except the Wallabies

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New Zealander Richard McClelland is keen to adopt all things “Aussie” moving forward… except for maybe one thing.

The Kiwi expat was among 44 new residents – from about 20 countries including Brazil, Sweden, Cambodia and South Africa – who took the pledge of allegiance during Maitland City Council’s annual citizenship ceremony on Australia Day in 2024.

Individuals as well as several families welcomed the opportunity to become naturalised at the Maitland Town Hall, all warmly greeted by mayor Philip Penfold.

And, while Mr McClelland embraced his latest status, the jury is still out on whether he’ll now support the Wallabies over the All Blacks.

“I don’t know if I’ll go that far,” he said with a laugh.

“But, seriously, it’s just a privilege to become an Australian citizen.

“To me, it’s my commitment to Australia and I like the security that comes with it.

“I’ll be able to vote and gain all the rights that come with being an Aussie.

“I’ve taken that final step to move my life over here.

“So, it’s a proud day for me.”

Mr McClelland, an electrician who resides in Rutherford, admitted the timing was “just right”.

“I’ve only been here for five years,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“However, the government recently made it easier for Kiwis to become Australian citizens.

“Up until then, it’s been hard for the past couple of decades.

“So, I was like, I’d better do it now.

“You never know, a different government could change it [laws] again… and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity.”

While thrilled to officially become a citizen on Australia Day, Mr McClelland said he understood why 26 January caused others so much angst.

“I’ll be honest, I feel very privileged to have it [today]… I was hoping it would be,” he explained.

“For me, it’s going to be a day I’ll never forget, which is really good.

“However, in regards to if I think Australia Day should be celebrated on 26 January, I don’t know too much about the history of the debate.

“But, if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are upset because they see it as ‘Invasion Day’, then maybe we need to look at possibly changing the date.

“Maybe a day where everyone can celebrate together.

“It’s a bit like the Kiwis and Maoris on Waitangi Day.

“There’s a lot of controversial stuff and it’s never a celebration.

“In fact, it’s worse over there than it is here.

“So, let’s have a day where we can all just have a beer and a barbie… and enjoy being Australian.”

  • FOOTNOTE: Ironically, Rugby Australia recently appointed another New Zealander, Joe Schmidt, to coach the Australian team.

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