House debates

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Private Members' Business

His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh

11:15 am

Photo of Julian LeeserJulian Leeser (Berowra, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this House:

(1) notes the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh;

(2) remembers his extraordinary life of service and sacrifice on behalf of the Commonwealth;

(3) acknowledges his important contribution to Australia, through his visits, patronage of numerous organisations and establishment of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards; and

(4) offers condolences to Her Majesty The Queen and members of the Royal Family.

In mourning the death of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, we mourn not just the death of one extraordinary man but the end of a generation. Because of Prince Philip's very long life of 99 years, he represented the values of a generation of heroic men who served our country and its allies in World War II and who have now largely passed away. Prince Philip represented those manly virtues of service, duty, physical activity, steadfastness and, as he would have said, 'just getting on with it'. He was not just Prince Consort; he was an extraordinary man in his own right.

Born the year before the crown was toppled in Greece, he fled to England as a baby in an orange crate. His mother, Princess Alice, hid a Jewish family in Greece, saving them from extermination, and in Israel, where she is buried, is honoured with Israel's highest honour, named one of the Righteous among the Nations. Prince Philip was raised by his cousins, the Mountbattens; and the wonderful influence of Gordonstoun and its principal, the extraordinary Kurt Hahn. He was sent to Dartmouth naval college, where he topped his graduating class, and at 21 was the youngest first lieutenant in the Royal Navy. Prince Philip served as a naval officer in the Second World War, seeing action in Greece and Crete, the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. When war broke out, Prince Philip joined the battleship HMS Ramillies in Ceylon. On this vessel, Prince Philip first visited Australia, taking part in the escort of ANZAC troop convoys to the Suez. He was mentioned in dispatches for his actions at the Battle of Cape Matapan, and saved his ship from German aerial bombardment at the invasion of Sicily. Under fire, he demonstrated he was a great leader of men. He was present at the Japanese surrender on board the USS Missouri.

This was the distinguished naval career he put aside when he married Princess Elizabeth in 1947. How unusual a choice it would have been, especially in his generation, for a man of such promise to choose to serve in such a different capacity as Prince Consort to the Queen. Like Prince Albert to Queen Victoria, he was both a figure of stability and an innovator. Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip were married on 20 November 1947 at Westminster Abbey. Because the British economy hadn't recovered from the war, the Queen required ration coupons to buy the material for her gown. Queen Elizabeth gave birth to Prince Charles on 14 November 1948, Princess Anne in 1950, Prince Andrew in 1960 and Prince Edward in 1964. Prince Philip and the Queen had eight grandchildren and nine, now 10, great-grandchildren.

Serving with Australians during the war, Prince Philip took a special interest in Australia and its people. Prince Philip visited Australia 26 times, more than any other member of the royal family, including to open the Melbourne Olympics. Prince Philip and the Queen stopped briefly in my electorate on 9 February 1954, and the Sydney Morning Herald records that at Hornsby Station, 'the Queen and the Duke came onto the observation platform to wave to the crowds'.

Prince Philip loved nature and was deeply committed to conservation. He was president of the World Wildlife Fund. It's perhaps now forgotten that Prince Philip also served as the second president of Australian Conservation Foundation, succeeding Garfield Barwick, from 1971 to 1976. He was Field Marshal of the Australian Army, Marshal of the RAAF and Admiral of the Fleet of the RAN. He was patron, life member, honorary member, colonel in chief or commodore in chief of over 50 Australian organisations. These reflected his many interests, including carriage driving, building, engineering, medicine, agriculture, ornithology, sailing, polo, surf lifesaving, military service and, strangely, the Sydney University Tiddlywinks Society, which perhaps demonstrates his sense of humour.

Undoubtedly, his greatest legacy, though, is the Duke of Edinburgh's Award. Founded in 1956, and based on the values of his own education at Gordonstoun, the Duke of Edinburgh's Award encourages young people to participate in physical activity, volunteering, skills development and leadership. What was a good idea in the fifties is such a vital one in an age where screen addiction, mental health issues and obesity rates among young people are on the rise. Since its inception, over eight million people in 130 countries have participated in the award, including 775,000 Australians. Presently, from high schools in my electorate alone, 1,013 people have undertaken the Duke of Edinburgh's Award.

Today, we salute the Duke of Edinburgh and acknowledges his memory, and our thoughts remain with the Queen in her time of grief. That they had a marriage of 73 years is remarkable. To lose a spouse at any age, especially when you've been in such an interdependent partnership, is difficult, but it is so much more so for the Queen at 95. As she sat by herself at the funeral in April, a staid figure in her time of mourning, the hearts of people around the world were with Her Majesty.

Prince Philip's service as Prince Consort made him a global figure, his war service made him a hero and his work with the Duke of Edinburgh's Award made him a visionary. May his memory be a blessing and a comfort to the Queen and an inspiration to people everywhere.

Photo of David GillespieDavid Gillespie (Lyne, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Is there a seconder for the motion?

Photo of Katie AllenKatie Allen (Higgins, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I second the motion.

11:20 am

Photo of Madeleine KingMadeleine King (Brand, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Trade) Share this | | Hansard source

Today I join the member for Berowra in paying tribute to His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The Duke has been remembered around the world for his unwavering service to his Queen, and therefore our Queen, and to his country, our country and the entire Commonwealth. Many in my electorate of Brand are originally from the United Kingdom, and many will remember Prince Philip very fondly.

A naval man, Prince Philip began his naval career as a 17-year-old attending Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth in Devon. After naval college, in 1940, after the war started, he was assigned to HMS Ramillies in the Indian Ocean, escorting troops from Australia to Egypt. It was at this time that Prince Philip first visited Australia, including Western Australia, the first of what would be more than 20 visits to our shores in his life. In fact, no member of the royal family has visited Australia more often than Prince Philip did. Prince Philip's active naval career spanned almost 14 years, ending in 1953 at the rank of commander. He remained greatly interested in and involved with naval service during royal life, with patronages and association with naval charities and clubs.

It is difficult to underestimate the great depth of feeling serving members of the military have had toward the royal family, particularly during and in the aftermath of World War II. My dad, John Morris, was in the same generation as Prince Philip and also served in the Royal Navy in the Second World War, serving as an able seaman and radar operator. He would often tell the story of the day when Prince Philip's uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten visited the ship he was serving on. I think it was HMS Jamaica, but I may be wrong; Dad told a lot of stories of his naval service. But it was clearly a highlight of his service when Lord Louis Mountbatten came to the ship and told some jokes to the sailors—probably a bit blue, but sailors are entitled to have those jokes amongst themselves, I suppose. Dad's fondness for Mountbatten was always evident, and it was always a pleasure for him to tell the story of when they had royalty on board his ship. The leadership of the royal family during those dark days was always remembered by people like my father who lived through that dreadful war. Like Mountbatten, Prince Philip exemplified that leadership. On his 90th birthday, in 2011, in recognition of his service to the Navy, the Queen conferred the title and office of Lord High Admiral on him.

Prince Philip's first royal visit to Australia was with Queen Elizabeth in 1954. It was a significant tour, as it was the first time a reigning monarch had ever visited our nation. The couple came to Perth as one of the 70 cities they visited during the eight-week-long royal visit. In 1962, Prince Philip again visited Perth for the Commonwealth Games, where he opened the event.

In 2011, Perth hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, and Prince Philip travelled with Her Majesty, who opened the event on 28 October of that year. I was really pleased to help with the organisation of that event on behalf of the Australian government at the time. The CHOGM visit would be Prince Philip's final trip to Australia. While in Perth, he made a visit to the Special Air Service Regiment to present the coveted sandy berets to Army soldiers who had passed the course and were accepted into the regiment. Finally, before Her Majesty and Prince Philip flew home to England, they attended the Big Aussie Barbecue, held on the Perth Esplanade, with over 100,000 people lining on the streets of Perth to bid them farewell. I think everyone knew it was the last time they would be in WA. At one stage, the Prince even took the tongs from the barbecue operators and attended to the very important job of sizzling those sausages.

One of Prince Philip's enduring legacies, as has been noted many times following his death, was the creation of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme in 1956, with the aim of giving young boys an opportunity to do something productive with their time. It has been a spectacular achievement. In 1959, the scheme was launched in Australia, and since then more than 775,000 young Australians—young women and men—have participated in this program, giving them the confidence and skills to take life on with enthusiasm. It is a remarkable gift to have given so many young people around the world and a remarkable legacy for the Duke to leave us all with.

Personally, I support Australia becoming a Republic and I believe an Australian should be able to be the head of state of this nation, but I nonetheless have the greatest respect for the lifelong service and commitment that Her Majesty the Queen and her husband, Prince Philip, have given to their country, our country and the Commonwealth of Nations over many, many years. Our condolences always with the Queen, our Queen, and vale His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

11:25 am

Photo of Katie AllenKatie Allen (Higgins, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'd like to thank the member for Berowra for moving this motion, an opportunity to reflect on the extraordinary life of an extraordinary man. Like many others in this place, I received the sadness of the news of the death of His Royal Highness the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, last month. My first thought was for his family: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, his four children and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren—a sad day for them all. But, of course, the passing of the Prince requires reflection on his remarkable life and his dedication to service to the Crown, to our country and, indeed, to the entire Commonwealth.

Prince Philip gave lifelong support to the Queen and lived an exemplary life of service. In Her Majesty's own words, Prince Philip was her 'strength and stay'. From their first days of romance before the war to his last days together with the Queen in Windsor, they were an unbeatable team, united in their dedication to the Crown and their family. For the 73 years they were married—I mean, really, quite extraordinary; 73 years. I wish that on all the members in this parliament—an extraordinary feat. They endured conflicts both external and internal. An unusual marriage for the time, the Prince had to put aside his career to support his partner, a situation now that is not so unusual after all, but we can look to them to learn and draw lessons from the history of their marriage.

Often outspoken, Prince Philip was criticised by some for his politically incorrect comments. However, he did prove time and time again that he had a genuine interest in others and only sought to improve lives with geniality and good humour. The Duke of Edinburgh's Award, created 65 years ago, embodies this genuine interest. It is an award that is about young people making a contribution, taking responsibility, persevering, developing skills and achieving their best selves as well as for others. It is designed to demonstrate what can be achieved by selfless service, an award modelled on how the Duke himself saw life. Millions have completed the Duke of Edinburgh's Award around the world, and in Australia alone 775,000 young people have participated. Indeed, my niece is completing it right now.

Prince Philip was a frequent visitor to Australia over his life—in fact, 26 times, more than any other royal—and he was a steadfast friend of Australia. He once described a week's holiday on a sheep station in Victoria, my home state, as the best holiday he'd ever had. A 'perfectly natural life; no frills and no fads' is what he said about it. During these many visits he acquired a large private collection of Australian art. He had a genuine admiration of Indigenous artists, including Albert Namatjira, and purchased more than a dozen Indigenous pieces during his lifetime. In 1963 the Queen bought a work by Sydney Nolan for the Duke for his birthday, and in later years, either by purchase or by gift, he added paintings by Clifton Pugh, Donald Friend, William Dobell and Olga Claire Garner to his collection.

His last visit to Australia was to accompany the Queen to a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2011. It was more than 70 years since his first visit during the war. At the time, he opened my previous place of employment, the Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne new build. It was an incredible experience. A nearly $1 billion hospital was opened to grate fanfare and excitement. It was such a special occasion to have both Prince Philip and the Queen there and the Queen to open the building. And it was a lovely piece of history because, 50 years previously, the new Royal Children's Hospital had been opened by the Queen in attendance with Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, the great patron of the Royal Children's Hospital, and the two women made an acknowledgement of the fact at that event, with the Prince Philip by the Queen's side.

So today I record our gratitude for the lifetime of service to the Crown that the Prince has paid and that he has served our Commonwealth and our country so brilliantly. I learnt on their last visit to Melbourne that the Queen had actually opened 2,000 hospitals in her lifetime. These are extraordinary outcomes for a couple that have lived their life of service to their country, to the Crown and to our Commonwealth, and I extend my sincere condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and to the royal family in this, their time of grief—but especially to Her Majesty. May he rest in peace.

11:30 am

Photo of Andrew LeighAndrew Leigh (Fenner, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury) Share this | | Hansard source

I never saw her passing by, nor the Duke of Edinburgh, but, as a participant in his awards scheme, I do have a great admiration for the Duke. It's an extraordinary thing, set up for young people aged 14 to 24, now operating in 130 countries and operational in Australia since 1959. Over 775,000 young Australians have participated in the Duke of Edinburgh's award scheme. Every year over 25,000 young Australians start, and over 11,000 finish, a Duke of Edinburgh's award. They have programs now to support disadvantaged Australians to complete the Duke of Edinburgh's award scheme, and their impact evaluation shows the effect that it has on the self-worth of young Australians, their commitment to their local community and their ability to take on new skills. One estimate says that there are over a quarter of a million volunteering hours done by award participants in Australia each year. Of course, some of those might well have been done without the award scheme, but I can certainly say that, for my own part, I spent a lot more time volunteering as a participant in the Duke of Edinburgh's award scheme than I would have done without it.

The scheme has three levels—bronze, silver and gold—involving components of voluntary service, physical recreation, skills, an adventurous journey and a Gold Residential Project. The gold award requires 12 months of voluntary service averaging an hour a week; 12 months of physical recreation, again averaging an hour a week; a 12-month period of focusing on a skill for an hour of week; an adventurous journey for four days and three nights; and a residential project for five days and four nights. Those components mean that, when you finish the gold award, you really do feel like you've earned something.

For me, as a participant, the scheme wouldn't have happened at the school I attended, James Ruse Agricultural High School, without the energy of George Matthews, our metalwork teacher, a former master sergeant in the US Air Force. Mr Matthews was somebody who barked orders, who took no compromise, who knew there was a right way of everything being done. In other words, he was the perfect person to take large groups of unruly teenagers off into the wilds for multiday treks. He constructed a carrier to take our bikes, because we would do bike expeditions, and tow behind one of the school's vehicles. That meant weekends spent welding the thing together. It was a two-storey bike carrier which could carry 20 or 30 bikes at one time—an extraordinary construction. I think it was the solo work of George Matthews. But the problem came when he was driving across the Mooney Mooney Bridge and the wind caught the back of the bike carrier. By the time he got to the other side of the bridge, the bike carrier was swinging so far that it was just missing the side of the bridge by what seemed like a metre or so, dragging the back of the truck from one side to another. I am still amazed that he managed to get across the bridge. He is in good health. He's a constituent of the member for Dobell, living happily in Berkeley Vale.

I want to finish by acknowledging the Duke of Edinburgh's award recipients from the ACT in 2020 and 2021. The gold awardees were Lisa Corbett, Madeleine Bloom, Maddison McRae, Taylor Miners, Jack Coyle, Sophie Holloway, Lachlan Madden, Matthew Robinson, Genevieve Madden, Stephanie Bell, Stephen Elliott, Rhea Chopra and Alvin Charles. The silver awardees were Angus Truman, Zoe Salazar Ballivian, Amy Miners, Elizabeth van der Walt and Jasmine Sun. The bronze awardees were Charlotte Bick, Ava McSweeney, Lachlan Ho, Serina Guo and Lilly Vassallo. The board of the Duke of Edinburgh's award scheme, headed by Gary Nairn and Sandra Nori, as chair and deputy chair respectively, does a great deal to publicise the award, to ensure that it fulfils the mission that the Duke of Edinburgh laid down for it. It is a scheme which has enjoyed an illustrious past and has a strong future ahead of it. It is an extraordinary testament to the hard work of the Duke of Edinburgh.

11:35 am

Photo of Julian SimmondsJulian Simmonds (Ryan, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It is with a heavy heart that I rise to speak on this motion to acknowledge the passing of a true friend of Australia, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. In my experience, love starts in friendship. That was indeed the case between the dashing young Greek prince and a young woman, Princess Elizabeth, who was set to become one of the most influential monarchs in history. Their friendship was sealed over lemonade and ginger biscuits, often after a tennis match, when Princess Elizabeth was in her teens. In the coming years, it progressed to be a relationship that would be known as one of the greatest of all time. We should all be so lucky as to enjoy a marriage with the longevity and love that they experienced. It was a relationship that stood the test of time, travelled across the globe, withstood wars and hardship, and celebrated many milestones. It was a relationship that welcomed four children, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Despite the number of people a sovereign engages with on a daily basis, being a sovereign would at times be a very lonely task. Our Queen has never wavered on the promise she made on her 21st birthday to serve the great imperial family to which we all belong. Day in, day out, her Majesty has served and continues to serve. Until his recent passing, the Duke of Edinburgh was a constant companion by her side, often seen offering a joke or an encouragement. We will never truly appreciate the role the Duke of Edinburgh played in Her Majesty's personal life but, as Her Majesty's late private secretary once said, Prince Philip was the only man in the world to treat the Queen simply as another human being. The role that he played supporting our Queen is worth acknowledging and worth our thanks.

The Duke was a very strong supporter of Australia. He visited our shores on more than 20 occasions. His first visit was on the British battleship HMS Ramillies, which sailed into Sydney Harbour in 1940. On board was an 18-year-old midshipman, Philip the Prince of Greece. He soon fell in love with Australia; in his younger years he was seen surfing, horseback riding, shooting and dancing. One of his most noted and historic visits to Australia was his first visit as the Duke of Edinburgh, the royal tour in 1954, alongside the reigning monarch his young wife Queen Elizabeth. An incredible 75 per cent of Australians reportedly came out to see the young royal couple. Many a news article on the visit noted how personable the Prince was, how he took the time to seek out young children or an elderly onlooker and was sure to go over for a chat. From the outset Australians knew he was funny and witty, and that suited our own larrikin nature. For decades he continued to serve faithfully. He opened the Melbourne Olympics in 1956, the Commonwealth Games in Perth and the new Parliament House in 1988 along with her Majesty.

Many of the Duke's engagements in Australia were of course focused on the Duke of Edinburgh Award—a scheme he founded in 1956 and introduced to Australia in 1959. The scheme focuses on contributing to your community, self-improvement and physical fitness. Over 750,000 Australians have participated in the program, including the member for Fenner and me. It teaches sticking power, I can tell you that! Having started the program in high school, I was well into university by the time I had achieved my gold award. The scheme teaches a love of the outdoors and adventure. I still enjoy things like rock climbing and abseiling today, and I only took those up because of the award. And it teaches service—service to your community and nation. That obviously drives me today, which is why I have entered this place. And that love of service exemplifies its namesake, the Duke of Edinburgh.

Your Majesty, on behalf of the people of Ryan I would like to express our deepest sympathy on the passing of your beloved husband, a great friend of Australia, His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. We will remember him.

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

There being no further speakers, the debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.