Senate debates

Friday, 23 September 2022

Death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth Ii and Accession of His Majesty King Charles Iii


9:55 am

Photo of Jonathon DuniamJonathon Duniam (Tasmania, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Environment, Fisheries and Forestry) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to join this commemoration of a remarkable woman with a remarkable faith and to pay my respects. In the days since Her Majesty's passing many have studied the late monarch's life closely, and, indeed, those whose only interaction was perhaps through mainstream media have made the observation that she was truly one of a kind, a source of wise counsel, a beacon of stability and constancy, a compassionate woman and one of the greatest leaders of our time.

From the very beginning of her adult life Queen Elizabeth II made a promise to dedicate her whole life to the service of the nation and of the Commonwealth, as she stated in her 21st birthday broadcast—words with which we are all now so very familiar. Many leaders make promises and so many, in a human way, break them, but this promise made by the late Queen was so remarkably kept in an unrelenting and unflinching manner. She was an exemplar of leadership that we so rarely see.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, in his sermon at the funeral service for Her late Majesty, told us how and why the Queen could keep this promise. He said:

Jesus—who … does not tell his disciples how to follow, but who to follow—said: "I am the way, the truth and the life". Her Late Majesty's example was not set through her position or her ambition, but through whom she followed.

The archbishop so clearly outlined for the rest of the world what it was that enabled the late Queen to fulfil her commitment for the entirety of her life. He went on to say:

In 1953 the Queen began her Coronation with silent prayer … Her allegiance to God was given before any person gave allegiance to her. Her service to so many people in this nation, the Commonwealth and the world, had its foundation in her following Christ—God himself—who said that he "came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many".

As the biographer Dudley Delffs said in his book, The Faith of Queen Elizabeth, which was written before her passing: 'The ability to keep a commitment seems to depend on the depth of conviction on which it's based. For Queen Elizabeth II her beliefs are deeply rooted not only in the history and tradition of the British monarchy, but more importantly in the word of God.'

The late Queen herself made the point in the General Synod inauguration address in 2010 that she delivered. She said:

… at the heart of our faith stand not a preoccupation with our own welfare and comfort but the concepts of service and of sacrifice …

The late Queen's faith also played a leading role in her compassion and her care for the community she led, along with such outwardly apparent Christian respect. Queen Elizabeth II also exhibited humility, along with so many other characteristics we all yearn to see in our leaders, born out of her faith, such as self-restraint and moderation.

In a world where self is increasingly becoming more important than community and service to others, Her late Majesty continued to implore her subjects to keep things in check. In her 1991 annual Christmas broadcast the late Queen said:

…let us not take ourselves too seriously. None of us has a monopoly of wisdom…

It is a piece of advice that the late Queen clearly applied in her own life and her deliberations, as evidenced by the selfless stability of her reign, pointing to her faith in God and his wisdom.

Her late Majesty offered such clarity and calm in her public addresses, and, upon reading through many of them, much inspiration for those who want to make the world we live in a better place. The late Queen often spoke openly and publicly of her faith and I think it's the key to her success and the impact of her leadership. In her 2014 Christmas broadcast it was clear for all to see. In that address she said:

For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace … is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role-model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ's example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people of whatever faith or none.

There's something for all of us to learn from the Queen's life: those of us in this place who are leaders in our community and, indeed, everyone who was touched by the late Queen and her contribution to our world through her commitment to fulfilling her duties. Her late Majesty's faith was why she was the leader and beacon that she was, living by example, fulfilling her duty with fidelity, and adhering so unwaveringly to her Christian faith. Well done, good and faithful servant. I too convey my condolences to His Majesty King Charles III and the royal family.


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