Senate debates

Friday, 23 September 2022

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


11:32 am

Photo of Matthew CanavanMatthew Canavan (Queensland, Liberal National Party) Share this | Hansard source

I cannot hope to match the eloquent words that have fittingly marked the passing of Queen Elizabeth II's remarkable life, so I will do something different and read into our parliamentary records the Queen's words as expressed annually through her famous Christmas broadcasts.

The Queen's grandfather, King George V, started the Christmas broadcasts in 1932. Queen Elizabeth delivered 70 of the 90 Christmas broadcasts so far delivered. The constant theme throughout her broadcasts was the timeless lessons of Jesus Christ's message of love, charity, hope, children, forgiveness and reconciliation. The Queen mainly delivered her broadcasts from her home and she made a point of stressing that Christmas was a time to spend at home among family. As the Queen mentioned in her first broadcast in 1952:

… I am speaking to you from my own home, where I am spending Christmas with my family; and let me say at once how I hope that your children are enjoying themselves as much as mine are on a day which is especially the children's festival, kept in honour of the Child born at Bethlehem nearly two thousand years ago.

The home was a constant theme. The Queen stressed by 2017 that, despite all the technological changes, people were still listening to or watching her message at home. As she said on the 60th anniversary of her first television address:

Six decades on, the presenter of that broadcast has 'evolved' somewhat, as has the technology she described. Back then, who could have imagined that people would one day be following this Christmas message on laptops and mobile phones? But I'm also struck by something that hasn't changed. That, whatever the technology, many of you will be watching or listening to this at home.

In 1957 the Queen gave that first Christmas broadcast by television. She remarked that many at the time felt lost by the speed of change, but she provided us advice on how to respond:

But it is not the new inventions which are the difficulty. The trouble is caused by unthinking people who carelessly throw away ageless ideals as if they were old and outworn machinery.

They would have religion thrown aside, morality in personal and public life made meaningless, honesty counted as foolishness and self-interest set up in place of self-restraint.

…   …   …   

Today we need a special kind of courage, not the kind needed in battle but a kind which makes us stand up for everything that we know is right, everything that is true and honest. We need the kind of courage that can withstand the subtle corruption of the cynics so that we can show the world that we are not afraid of the future.

Hers was a call for all of us to be courageous in defence of what was right, and the Queen often remarked that in her view it was the many ordinary people that have to do this. In 1954 she said:

In the turbulence of this anxious and active world many people are leading uneventful lonely lives. To them dreariness, not disaster, is the enemy.

They seldom realise that on their steadfastness, on their ability to withstand the fatigue of dull repetitive work and on their courage in meeting constant small adversities, depend in great measure the happiness and prosperity of the community as a whole.

… … …

The upward course of a nation's history is due, in the long run, to the soundness of heart of its average men and women.

The Queen made clear that this respect for all people was central to her Christian faith and leadership. She often mentioned the parable of the good Samaritan, as in 2004:

For me as a Christian one of the most important of these teachings is contained in the parable of the Good Samaritan, when Jesus answers the question "who is my neighbour".

It is a timeless story of a victim of a mugging who was ignored by his own countrymen but helped by a foreigner—and a despised foreigner at that.

The implication drawn by Jesus is clear. Everyone is our neighbour, no matter what race, creed or colour. The need to look after a fellow human being is far more important than any cultural or religious differences.

Perhaps the best tribute we could make to the Queen is to recognise that she bore Christ's cross admirably and that she will be reunited with him now. Her leadership is best summed up by a prayer she mentioned in her 2003 Christmas broadcast:

"Teach us good Lord

To serve thee as thou deservest;

To give, and not to count the cost;

To fight, and not to heed the wounds;

To toil, and not to seek for rest;

To labour, and not to ask for any reward;

Save that of knowing that we do thy will."

Vale Queen Elizabeth II.


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