Senate debates

Friday, 23 September 2022

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


10:14 am

Photo of Anne RustonAnne Ruston (SA, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Health and Aged Care) Share this | Hansard source

It's an honour to rise in the chamber today to speak to the condolence motion for the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The passing of such a significant and steadfast figure, not just for Australia and the Commonwealth but for the whole world, is a time of both sadness and reflection on an incredible life. I know that these sentiments will be repeated many times today, as they have been over the course of the last two weeks, but the repetition of these words serves only to demonstrate the extent to which Her Majesty truly embodied them—loyal, honourable, dignified, wise, dutiful and universally loved.

Her Majesty has been the epitome of what it is and what it means to be a leader and a role model. Through wars, a global pandemic, economic depression and historic world changes, she has been unwavering in her stance and her faith. Queen Elizabeth II has been a pillar of stability and grace for what is, for most of us, our whole lives. She led unfaltering with the knowledge that behind her was, in Her majesty's own words:

… the living strength and majesty of the Commonwealth and Empire; of societies old and new; of lands and races different in history and origins but all, by God's Will, united in spirit and in aim.

Perhaps what appeared to me as the most significant quality of Queen Elizabeth II was that, despite her title—Queen Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of this Realm and of all Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith—she was loved and admired across the world and was a global figure of warmth and compassion, despite the magnitude of her position. That was represented in her own universal outlook. As Her Majesty said on the importance of peace:

… whatever life throws at us, our individual responses will be all the stronger for working together and sharing the load.

But, of course, despite the far-reaching corners to which those who admire Queen Elizabeth II extended, it is clear that Her Majesty had a very special place in the hearts of the people of Australia. Equally we know, as has been said many times through our period of mourning, Her Majesty had deep affection for Australia and Australians as well. This affection undoubtably extended to the people of South Australia, as was demonstrated graciously on many occasions during her long reign. Among the Queen's many visits to our country, Her Majesty journeyed to my state of South Australia on seven occasions throughout her many years as Queen, including in 1954 to open a special session of the state parliament and during her Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002.

The Queen's visit in 1954 took place just two years after her coronation. Her opening of the South Australian parliament is marked as a day of singular significance in the state's constitutional history. During this visit, on Thursday 25 March 1954, Her Majesty, along with the Duke of Edinburgh, arrived in Renmark, my home town, in the Riverland of South Australia. Standing on the Renmark oval, a mere kilometre from the wandering River Murray, Queen Elizabeth gave a speech to around 15,000 riverlanders.

Among those who had the privilege to meet the Queen on the oval that day were my grandparents, Cuthbert and Marjorie Ruston. The photo of that meeting was a cherished possession of my grandparents all their lives, both being the staunchest of monarchists. I still have that photo. The Queen said that her visit to Renmark will always remind us of what can be achieved by the use of natural resources in what must perhaps have originally appeared difficult and uncompromising surroundings. Her Majesty described the Riverland settlers as having found a profitable and useful way of life on the banks of Australia's main waterways, having succeeded in harnessing nature's resources to achieve a wonderful result. The local newspaper, the Murray Pioneer, at the time reported the event as 'the district's greatest day'. To me, it is a poignant example, among a treasure trove of memories, of Her Majesty's demonstration of her love for the Australian people and the Australian people's love for her.

As a senator for South Australia, to Her Majesty's family I express my sincere condolences. May Queen Elizabeth II, by the grace of God Queen of Australia, rest in eternal peace. Long live the King!


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