Senate debates

Friday, 23 September 2022

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


10:29 am

Photo of Malarndirri McCarthyMalarndirri McCarthy (NT, Australian Labor Party, Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians) Share this | Hansard source

CARTHY (—) (): As a senator for the Northern Territory and for Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands, I extend my sincere condolences to the royal family on the death of Queen Elizabeth II. I also acknowledge the presence of the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, the Hon. Natasha Fyles, who has also joined us, representing the Northern Territory, in the mourning and commemoration of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Queen visited the Northern Territory and Cocos (Keeling) Islands and had such a fondness in particular for the Indian Ocean territories. She visited on a number of occasions, in particular in Alice Springs, Katherine and Darwin, and left an excited impression on the many residents who had the opportunity to meet her in person or to witness her presence on Arrernte country and in the north on Larrakia country. It was the students of the School of the Air who were incredibly excited to be able to speak to the Queen and share their stories of what was happening across remote and regional Australia. It was members of the Royal Flying Doctor Service who could give evidence of just how difficult life was in the north. Even members of the St Mary's Football Club, in 1977, had the honour of speaking to her personally just before their game. In 1963 the Queen and her husband visited Central Australia and she had reportedly been told that it was the dead heart of Australia, but the Queen saw Alice Springs and Arrernte country as the living heart of the nation.

Miriam Rose Ungunmerr Baumann visited London recently, on behalf of the people of the Northern Territory and, indeed, the people of Daly River, as a senior elder. Her first time overseas, she had mixed feelings, as I did and as many Australians did. I flew over my country—the island country north of Borroloola—the day after the death of the Queen. As a Yanyuwa Garrawa woman, I reflected quite deeply on just what it meant on a very personal level, not just as a senator for the Northern Territory but as a Yanyuwa woman. I know my aunties felt sad. They saw the Queen as a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother. I know my brothers felt differently. I know my uncles felt differently as we reflected, too, on what the monarchy has meant and what the world of colonialism has meant to the Yanyuwa, knowing deeply the pain of the frontier wars and the conflicts that came with that. Maybe the Queen was not directly responsible for that, but we know that these are the mixed feelings and emotions of so many across the globe in the Commonwealth lands for First Nations people.

Respectfully, one of the wonderful things that has come to this country is the Westminster form of democracy and the ability to say, and speak about, what does matter to each person. On this particular solemn occasion, as First Nations people, we know—as, certainly, the Yanyuwa Garrawa people know—that sorry business is a very sacred business and must always be treated with respect. There will always be a time to talk about those things that have hurt in the past, and that time will come. But, for now, we acknowledge the incredible memory of an incredible woman who impacted the globe and millions of people over seven decades or more and the life that she gave and the service that she gave to her family, to her people and to those in Commonwealth nations around the world. May you rest in peace.


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