Friday, 23 September 2022
Death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth Ii and Accession of His Majesty King Charles Iii
Senators, we meet today at the request of Senators Wong and Birmingham, following consultation with other senators, to consider a motion relating to the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the accession of His Majesty King Charles III. I call the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate.
by leave—I move:
That the following address to His Majesty The King be agreed to—
We, the members of the Senate in the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, express our deep sympathy with Your Majesty and members of the Royal Family for the great loss sustained in the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, our late Sovereign.
On behalf of the Australian people, we pay tribute to and acknowledge Her late Majesty's exceptional life of dedication to duty and commitment to Australia and the Commonwealth.
We extend our congratulations to Your Majesty on your accession to the throne.
We express our respect for Your Majesty and pledge to work to achieve peace and prosperity for Australia and the Commonwealth.
The story goes that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth was having a conversation with an Indigenous elder from Queensland. He said to her: 'You are born and you walk on your country, you learn to live and to love and to do what you are born to do, and then you go home.' On an overcast day in Canberra, I rise on behalf of the government of the Commonwealth of Australia to mark the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and to acknowledge that, indeed, she has now gone home.
In commemorating the life of Her Majesty, in the Senate on behalf of the government, I am aware that I speak on behalf of all Australians. I do not approach this task lightly. Many of the details of Her Majesty's life and achievements have been widely reported since Her Majesty's passing.
Queen Elizabeth II died on the afternoon of 8 September at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. It is neither explicable nor surprising that many Australians report having woken at the time of her passing, around 3 am our time. Thus marked the end of the second Elizabethan age.
Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born in London at the home of her maternal grandparents on 21 April 1926. The 1920s produced some extraordinary men and women, including my own mother and father. For the parents of baby boomers, duty always came first. There was a sober endurance about the way they confronted the challenges of life—stoic, patient, resilient.
The Queen's father, the Duke of York, was formally proclaimed King George VI in December 1936. This proclamation made Princess Elizabeth the heiress presumptive, and from that point on, her path through life was preordained. At the tender age of 10 she confronted the fact that her life was to be one of service and duty to others. For her there was no other option. She was to be Queen, whether she liked it or not. Hers was a life devoted to service to others—to her people, to her Commonwealth and to her family. This was her promise to the people of her dominions on her 21st birthday:
I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.
It is fair to say that leaders of all persuasions are adept at making promises but not so adept at keeping them. This could not be said of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
In my later years, I've often reflected on the nature of her vocation. Hers was a life of seemingly endless work—public ceremonies, receptions, community events, political and diplomatic meetings—all held together within a schedule of grinding and exhausting travel. It was only in the last few years that I can ever recall her excusing herself from a work engagement, and then only ever on the basis of failing health. Quite remarkably, two days before her passing, struggling with her mobility, in a cardigan and a tartan skirt and with her trademark handbag on her arm, she fulfilled her constitutional duty by accepting the resignation of Boris Johnson and inviting the Rt Hon. Elizabeth Truss MP to form a new administration.
The second Elizabethan age began while the world was recovering from the cataclysm of world war. Nonetheless, her epoch was still marked by earth-shattering change, including but not limited to revolutions, republics, coup d'etats and wars in any number of strife-torn countries. As a relatively young head of state she navigated the turbulent 1960s. Some of us who were in our early teens at the time will remember the howling gales of change that ripped across the planet. John Lennon once observed of the sixties:
We were all on the ship, our generation, a ship going to discover the new world. And the Beatles were in the crow's nest of that ship.
Well, the Beatles might well have been in the crow's nest, but Her Majesty was on the bridge because that's where her duty demanded that she be. Looking at the horizon is one thing, setting a course to achieve it is quite another.
It has been claimed that Queen Elizabeth had a special relationship with Australia. There is a lot of evidence for this. Her Majesty visited Australia on 16 separate occasions. She is said to have liked us and trusted us. If one is in any doubt about her trust, consider her decision to have her oldest son and heir presumptive educated for a time in Australia.
In 2011, the then Prince Charles joked in public about being referred to by his fellow students as a 'Pommy bastard'. Nonetheless, King Charles III is universally remembered by those students as a 'thoroughly decent bloke'. Whatever happens in the future, Australians know that King Charles likes us, understands us and respects us. Understanding that Charles would eventually be King, sending him to Timbertop was an example of Her Majesty's acute foresight. As King Charles has acceded to the throne, we recognise our new monarch and give thanks for the seamless manner in which he assumes his heavy burden of responsibility as king. We also express our hope that his reign will be marked by an abundance of the same qualities that marked that of his late, beloved mother.
It is instructive for us, in this place particularly, to reflect on the way Her Majesty discharged her constitutional responsibilities. In early 1986, as the Queen of Australia, she adroitly navigated the introduction of the Australia Act. It was in essence a formal declaration that the Commonwealth of Australia was completely constitutionally independent from the United Kingdom. The Australian Act, among other things, relegated the monarch to a largely symbolic role and ensured that the High Court of Australia was the highest point of legal appeal—other than the various state supreme courts having ultimate recourse to the Privy Council in Britain.
It is a measure of Queen Elizabeth's political sensibilities that she appreciated our wish to be constitutionally independent. However, because of the independence of the states, the Australia Act stipulates that the monarch is to accept the advice of state premiers. At the time, Her Majesty was concerned that advice tended to by her state premiers might run counter to the interests of other states or, indeed, of the Commonwealth government. This was a particularly astute observation by her, as some Senate colleagues might recall the unpredictable and intemperate nature of the then Premier of Queensland, Joe Bjelke-Petersen.
Her Majesty was prodigiously well educated on her constitutional rights and responsibilities. As a constitutional monarch, Queen Elizabeth exercised what constitutional expert Professor Anne Twomey has described as 'soft power based on social pressure, political capital and persuasion but always behind the scenes'. Professor Twomey has suggested that Her Majesty was a little more activist and more influential than people might have thought. However, the Queen exercised her influence with quiet subtlety. She was very good at keeping any advice that she gave to ministers behind closed doors.
Although Queen Elizabeth did not have any direct input into the conduct of Australia's national affairs, she advised 15 British prime ministers. She is said to have done this in an effective yet uncontroversial manner, expressing her opinion with a quizzical raised eyebrow or a gentle interrogative: 'Now, do you really think that this is a good idea, Prime Minister?'
At the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, it's also timely to reflect on the Commonwealth of Nations, usually referred to simply as the Commonwealth, a political association of some 56 states where members are connected through their use of the English language and their historical ties with the British Empire. Her Majesty was wholly devoted to the Commonwealth and worked tirelessly to maintain its relevance and its influence in an increasingly fractured global environment. As the relationship tides between countries ebb and flow and strategic alliances fluctuate there is comfort and security in being a member of an association of states committed to shared values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Given what has transpired in our own region over the last few years, in 2022 we are once again grateful for Queen Elizabeth's foresight and her unflagging commitment to the Commonwealth.
In recent days, any number of people have recounted seeing, meeting or spending time with Her Majesty. My first memory of Queen Elizabeth was as a nine-year-old, when she toured Adelaide in 1963. As she drove by, I can still remember wondering what Her Majesty's life was actually like. As young as I was, I didn't imagine for one moment that it was a lot of fun sitting in a black car on a hot Adelaide afternoon waving a gloved hand at school students lining the route. I was fortunate enough to meet Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip twice in 2011, once with my oldest daughter, Mary, in Parliament House, and once with my middle daughter, Tess, when I was Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water. Her Majesty was in Brisbane to launch a water recycling project at the height of the drought. I found her warm, engaging and funny. 'Do you really recycle water?' she asked me with a grin. Yes, you can laugh at that.
We've all been lucky to hear the recollections of people who knew of Queen Elizabeth beyond the formal figure via the medium of television. None of us are surprised to learn of her deep humanity, her wicked sense of humour and her genuine appreciation of people from all walks of life. With Queen Elizabeth having passed, the earth moves a little slower, the sun shines a little less brightly and the wind has an extra chill. Queen Elizabeth was Queen of Australia but she was also a lifelong partner of Prince Philip, a mother, a grandmother, a great-grandmother, an aunt and a godmother. In our sadness, we also know her family are grieving deeply at this time. Regardless of our personal positions on royalty and our constitutional arrangements, Australians are united in sadness and gratitude for the life of duty and service. We have witnessed the passing of a truly remarkable woman. Well done, good and faithful servant. We shall not see her like again. May she rest in eternal peace.
On the death of Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia and her other realms and territories, head of the Commonwealth, we give thanks for her truly remarkable life. Of the countless words describing the life and legacy of Queen Elizabeth II, one stands above all others: duty—a duty laid upon a little girl, a duty embraced by a young woman, a duty fulfilled for 70 years by a lady of grace and diligence. The Queen exemplified the essence of duty. She lived and performed her duties not to advance self-interest but to underpin the interests of the nation, the Commonwealth and the people she served throughout the world.
Among the vast challenges the world has witnessed throughout the Queen's long life has been a fracturing of some commonly shared experiences. We live in a world of more choices, which see us travel diverse paths in life, sometimes oblivious to the experiences of others. However, the death of the Queen has overwhelmed that trend. It has brought a nation, a Commonwealth of nations and a global community together in ways that virtually no other event could. There has been a poignancy as everyone from kings, presidents and prime ministers through to schoolchildren and charity workers have reflected, from corridors of power the world over through to kitchen tables in every corner of our planet. Together we have reflected on the woman, Elizabeth. We have reflected on her reign as Queen. We have reflected on the changed times she bore witness to and upon the institution she put before all else.
Then Princess Elizabeth was 10 when her father unexpectedly inherited the throne, becoming King George VI. Reportedly, her little sister, Princess Margaret, asked, 'Does that mean you're going to be Queen?' Princess Elizabeth said it probably did. 'Poor you,' Princess Margaret allegedly replied. Whether this report is true or not, it underlines the reality that Her Majesty did not choose her life. Fate chose her. How we respond to the twists and turns of fate is the true test of us all. Elizabeth Windsor chose to wholeheartedly and dutifully dedicate herself to the life that had chosen her. Princess Elizabeth's now famous declaration on the occasion of her 21st birthday, 'My whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service,' was perhaps the most powerful of vows ever made and fulfilled.
A child of the war, Princess Elizabeth lived through the battle for British sovereignty against the evils of Nazism and fascism. She learned the importance of stoicism in times of trouble, leadership in the face of fear. When it may have been easy to cloister, to shelter or to hide, the young Elizabeth contributed by training as a wartime mechanic. She lived by example, donning the uniform of the military she would one day lead. She spoke to her nation to strengthen its confidence and resolve. Princess Elizabeth's exposure to tyrants and autocrats of that era can only have strengthened her commitment to the model of parliamentary democracy and system of rights, freedoms and responsibilities that had evolved under her monarchical predecessors.
Her Majesty lived a royal life like no other. The glare of the public gaze, the ever-present camera lens, blurred the lines between private and public in ways for which there was no prior role model. Glimpses into the life of the young Princess Elizabeth were initially brief, snatched through Movietone news reels. But 96 years after her birth, in a vastly changed world, the death of Queen Elizabeth II was simultaneously announced across media platforms from the traditional noticeboard of yesteryear to the ubiquitous social media platforms of the modern era.
Her reign as Queen Elizabeth II began on that fateful day of 6 February 1952 when, thousands of kilometres from home, she was told of the death of her father. None in this chamber would remember that day, or any other monarch other than Her late Majesty—very few people do. In fulfilling her duties, Her Majesty was for 70 years a constant, a reassurance, an anchor of stability and dependability. That is why her death has been felt so deeply and personally across the world, across the Commonwealth and here in Australia. Queen Elizabeth was there for the rise and fall of nations, the escalation and cessation of the Cold War, man first walking on the moon, terrorist attacks and technological advances that have changed our world beyond measure.
When a global pandemic struck in the 94th year of her life, Queen Elizabeth again did her duty; as she had done countless times before. She reassured a troubled world, she reached out to the health workers on the front line and she led by example. There was no more powerful example of the sacrifices the pandemic demanded than that image of a selfless Queen sitting all alone in a chapel to farewell Prince Philip, her cherished husband of 74 years.
Her late Majesty also lived through the sweeping social changes of the 1960s and beyond, which brought long-overdue advances in equality. The Queen herself was a role model for women, not necessarily in all that she said but in what she did. Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne at a time when women who married had to frequently leave the workforce, yet she was a working mother, a world leader of influence, the head of the armed services, who didn't just take the salute in uniform but did so on horseback. Her late Majesty worked with 15 British prime ministers, 14 US presidents, 16 Australian prime ministers and hundreds of other Commonwealth and world leaders, including on visits to 117 different countries. Overwhelmingly, her interlocutors were men yet her constant presence sent a strong message signifying that it did not always have to be so.
Her Majesty made 16 separate visits to Australia—the only reigning monarch to have ever done so. One was for the opening of this building, Australia's Parliament House, on 9 May 1988, as part of Australia's bicentennial celebrations. The Queen noted the first session of the Australian parliament was opened by her grandfather on the same day 87 years earlier in 1901, and it was her father who had opened the old Parliament House, known then as the provisional Parliament House, also on the same day in 1927. At the opening of this building, Her Majesty reflected on Australia's growing place in the world, saying:
Commitment to parliamentary democracy lies at the heart of this nation's maturity, tolerance and humanity. This is surely one of the characteristics which has attracted so many people to come to Australia from countries which do not enjoy the benefits of the parliamentary system in such large measure.
This statement reflected her dedication to democratic ideals and her understanding of our journey as a nation and of our growing independence. As former prime minister John Howard wrote recently, Her Majesty followed Australia's 1999 republic referendum intently but 'never wavered from the absolute requirement that it was for the Australian people alone to decide'. Such was her enduring commitment to democratic ideals.
While our bonds with the United Kingdom remain exceptionally strong, our growing influence and engagement in our own region have been a tangible sign of our nation maturing throughout her reign. Our maturing has also entailed reconciling with our past. The Queen played her role in reconciliation with Indigenous Australians and that journey through the changing nature of her visits to Australia and also through her personal engagements.
Like many, I was touched to see the remarks of Senator Dodson reflecting upon the 1999 delegation of Indigenous leaders that he participated in to meet with the Queen at Buckingham Palace. 'We got in there and we were totally disarmed,' Senator Dodson has recalled, saying, 'She was so welcoming. I think for the first time in our lives we were treated properly. She was genuinely interested in what was happening to us.' Senator Dodson's generous remarks put him as just one of millions of Australians who hold dear their memories of cherished encounters with the Queen—royal visits where countless Australians have lined the streets of our towns and cities to catch a glimpse of the Queen, hoping for a street walk during which to say g'day or be one of the lucky children to present a posy of flowers to her.
Many Australians were touched by the Queen in their deepest hours of need, when she comforted and consoled those hurt by tragedy and disaster. The Queen, along with the Duke of Edinburgh, visited my home state of South Australia seven times. As meticulously planned as any royal visit would be, it wasn't always smooth sailing—quite literally. In 1986, on a five-day visit to mark South Australia's sesquicentenary, rough seas prevented Her Majesty disembarking a royal barge at the birthplace of our state, Glenelg. Several attempts were made to get the barge close enough to the jetty, but it was considered too choppy for Her Majesty to make the leap from the barge to the platform, so they returned to the Royal Yacht Britannia and instead set sail for Port Adelaide. One suspects, given the Queen's practicality, that she was probably less fazed by the choppy seas than her aides, and would have been happy to make that leap. She did eventually make it back to plant a tree at Glenelg. Imagine just how many trees the Queen has planted. An enduring legacy is the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy, of which Australia has been a strong supporter.
As with any visit to Australia, Her Majesty also embraced the moments of informality. She visited the city of Whyalla in 1954, and again in 1986, where she was greeted by a giant handmade sign erected by a construction crew of European migrants that read: 'Longa live da Queen. G'day Duke.' Well-known for her sense of humour, it was reported that Her Majesty loved the greeting. After all, any monarch who pulls out a marmalade sandwich whilst drinking tea with Paddington Bear definitely has the ability for warmth, kindness and a bit of a laugh.
Strangely, for someone who lived a life so unique, the grief and respect shown following the death of the Queen has been in part due to her relatability. Many people have referred to Her Majesty as being seen like another mum or nanna. We bore witness to her starting a family and the joy of watching children grow, to be followed by grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We caught glimpses of the family picnics, heard tales of her driving too fast or of her getting her car bogged. We were entertained by seeing the Queen's joy as she watched her horse come in first, and the world learned more about corgis than we ever wished to. We were saddened when we saw her anguish at family breakdown or personal tragedy. These moments provided the reassurance that, despite being far removed from our daily lives, she too faced challenges that we could relate to. But no matter the circumstances, the Queen's unwavering calm, grace and dignity was a source of comfort, hope and solace.
Central to her life was her faith. Hers was not a proselytising type of faith; it was deeper than that. A deep spirituality provided Her Majesty with the capacity to be anchored in times of trouble, uplifted when help was needed. The Queen's deep faith should serve as a comfort to those saddened by her death. While we all knew this day would come, it nonetheless shocked us when it did. Like the loss of a parent or grandparent, the inevitability of death does not make it easier. Her faith is, no doubt, a comfort to her family at this time, forced to grieve in public and required to assume new roles in the midst of their mourning. We extend our condolences to the royal family.
The death of a monarch is the supreme reminder of the cycle of life. With one door closing, another is opening. As we mourn Queen Elizabeth II, we hail the new sovereign, King Charles III. Her commitment to duty is instilled in her successor as he begins a new chapter in a life also dedicated to service.
These last 14 days have provided some rare time to reflect. While we have marvelled at the majesty of royal rituals and the beauty of ancient palaces and churches, I hope we have all found some time for deeper reflection. The second Elizabethan age was a time of profound change, yet the values that guided Queen Elizabeth II in her life and duties were constant and are enduring: service to the community, commitment to family, kindness towards others, grace under pressure, learning from the past, hope for the future and respect for the institutions that grant us the opportunities of peace, prosperity and freedom.
During her Majesty's 1986 visit to Adelaide, she unveiled a statue of Catherine Helen Spence. The Scottish born Australian suffragette was, in 1897, Australia's first female political candidate. Her Majesty and Catherine Helen Spence were both great women whose lives each spanned two centuries, though never overlapping. Catherine Helen Spence, at her own 80th birthday in 1905, said of herself that she was:
… awakened to a sense of capacity and responsibility, not merely to the family and the household, but to the State; to be wise, not for her own selfish interests, but that the world may be glad that she had been born.
Those words echo across the century that has followed. They are a fitting epitaph for the life and legacy of her Majesty. We celebrate her life: a life well lived; a life dedicated to others; a life of exemplary service. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you, Ma'am. May you rest in peace and, in the words of your successor, the King, may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
SON-YOUNG () (): I rise on behalf of the Greens to offer our condolence on the death of Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, Queen Elizabeth II, and pay our respects to a woman whose life has been like no other. For all but a few of us, her reign as Queen of England, the United Kingdom, Australia and the Commonwealth existed for our entire lifetimes; seventy years as Queen, the second-longest-serving monarch in the history of the world.
Much has been said of her extraordinary life both before and, of course, since her passing two weeks ago. Yesterday, while many of us were gathered here in parliament for the memorial service held in her honour, I reflected on the extraordinary life that she had led. How much the world has changed over the 96 years since her birth: the prime ministers and the presidents that she's met; the wars that she's witnessed; the nation-states that have grown, collapsed and evolved; the changes in technology; the global challenges that have come, gone and continue; and the overall social change and progress of us as part of humanity.
In reflecting on the life of Queen Elizabeth II, we remember and acknowledge her personal humility, her service and her unflinching commitment to duty, and much of that has already been acknowledged here this morning. I cannot help but reflect on the fact that her Majesty became Queen and the head of the Commonwealth in 1952 when she was just 25 years old, the same age that I was when elected to this place. But I was one of 76 senators and 226 members of the parliament at the time, and she was one. How lonely that must have been. How extraordinary that experience must have been.
The experience of a young Queen Elizabeth as the head of the Commonwealth, of course, dwarfs my own and that of many others in this place, but as a young woman in this parliament I cannot but reflect on what it's like to be striving to learn and to stand up in a man's world. She did this all too often. And she had her doubters, those who believed she wasn't up to the job—those who believed that she would fail, that she wouldn't be taken seriously—and, of course, she has seen them all wrong. No-one would doubt her commitment to the job, to her service and to her duty.
Alongside the acknowledgement of the role of the head of the monarchy, we also need to remember and acknowledge the woman, the mother, the grandmother and the great-grandmother, the loss of which we can all understand, and we pay our respects and extend our sympathies to her loved ones. On the day of her passing, one of my colleagues remarked very early on that the sadness that he was feeling was the instant reminder of his own grandmother—and I think we've heard that over and over again from people not just here in Australia but around the world, because when somebody is lost, whether in public life or in a personal circumstance, it does make you reflect on what you hold dear: the people around you, what you value. It allows us to have time to pause, to think, to take stock and to have an opportunity to reset, if indeed that is needed.
Such was the significance of the Queen's life that she could touch so many in so many different ways. And as the Governor-General, David Hurley, said at the memorial service yesterday, the death of Queen Elizabeth has prompted mixed reactions from different groups within our community, and absolutely understandably. We cannot give an honest reflection on her life without acknowledging the impact that colonisation has had on our First Nations people and the role that this plays in the stories that we tell ourselves, who we are as a country and who we want to be. And I want to, at this point, acknowledge the First Nations people in this chamber, the members of this parliament, and give a special moment of reflection on how they must be feeling and are feeling at this particular time—because it isn't the same experience for all of us.
It is important that we reflect on the impact of the institution to which Her Majesty belonged and represented during her reign. As a person in public life, she was a constant presence. Over the last 70 years her image has been a consistent symbol of power, a constant reminder of who we are as a country and how some of us got here. We remain a constitutional monarchy despite how, in many ways, the royal family in England seem so far removed from the everyday lives of ordinary Australians in a modern multicultural nation.
We are a constitutional monarchy because in 1770 James Cook sailed up the coast and declared the land for the British. He did not consult the people who were living here; he did not sign a treaty. According to his diaries, his party fired shots. In 1787, orders were issued in London for Captain Arthur Phillip to sail over and establish a colony in Botany Bay—which we now know as Sydney—named after Lord Sydney, the man who had appointed him. These orders instructed Phillip to take possession of the eastern half of Australia without consent. First Nations people have never ceded sovereignty of the lands or the water that they had cared for, for 65,000 years. By 1788 the First Fleet would arrive, marking the start of the British Crown's domination of this country. From 1795, we have the first reports of First Nation massacres in the name of the Crown. As colonies were established around the country, the massacres followed. Over the next 140 years there were hundreds of them. What we know and what has been recorded is that over 11,000 First Nations people were killed as part of this.
Now, the Queen who has passed did not personally commit any of these actions, of course. She did not authorise them. She did not remove children from their parents or personally attempt to remove and decimate one of the oldest cultures in the world, but she was the representative of the government and the institution that did. And now, as we acknowledge her passing, we consider the legacy of what it means—in the land that we now know as Australia, of which we are all proud citizens—that it was declared Crown land.
Momentous events create great moments of reflection, and this is a great moment. Moments of loss and death cause us to consider deep reflection. They allow us as humans to think about the values that we hold. They allow us as people and as a society to think about what type of world we want to live in, and to take stock and to reset. It's a time to reflect on who we are in this country and who we want to be moving forward. It is a time for us to come to terms with our own history and to reflect on the future that we want, united in respect for all peoples together. Now is the time for justice, recognition and respect for First Nations people. It is the time to implement the Uluru statement—truth, treaty and voice—because this always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land.
It is one thing to acknowledge the mistakes of the past; it is another to make amends. A treaty was needed decades ago. As many other nations colonised by the British Empire have done, we need to do the same. Generations of oppression, trauma and suffering as a result of colonisation must be reckoned with. Now is the time for us to do this—to move forward for treaty, for truth and for a genuine voice for First Nations people. It's never too late to say sorry and it's never too late to make amends.
It is time for us to also join the scores of other countries that have cut ties with the British Empire and become republics during the last 70 years of Her Majesty's reign—countries like India, Jordan, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and Nigeria, all of whom now have their own head of state. Of course, we will retain the Westminster style of government, the separation of powers and of church and state, but our head of state should be one of us—an Australian.
Our new monarch is King Charles III, heir to Queen Elizabeth II. As a person, he has waited patiently for the job for most of his life. He has had plenty of time to think about how he would take this role on. He cares about a lot of causes that are dear to my heart, and many that the Greens agree with. We welcome his commitment to the environment and to saving this planet from dangerous climate change. We welcome his climate activism and we hope that this continues. I was heartened to hear the words of Prince William today calling for climate action urgently. Both he and his father understand the crisis that we find ourselves in, in this particular moment of history, and that we all have a responsibility to take action. Leaving it to the next generation is simply not an option.
But Charles III is not our choice. The Australian people didn't get to choose—we should have been able to, and we should be able to in the future. That power as a sovereign head of state has been transferred to the King, and while in many cases good people inhabit these roles, they are also roles that are about retaining a form of power which has spanned the globe. So, while we reflect on the extraordinary life of Queen Elizabeth II and consider the mixed reactions that this creates for many of us across the community, we must also think: don't use in vain this deep reflection, but use it as an opportunity and a moment to think about who we are, who we want to be and what we're going to do to force the next chapter of our nation.
On behalf of the National Party in the Senate, I rise to associate our senators with the remarks of the parties of government to mark the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the accession of King Charles III. We send our deep condolences and sincere condolences to Her Majesty's family. She was our monarch and Australia's head of state for 70 of our nation's 121 years of federation. On reflection, I want to thank the Prime Minister of our country, for the way—despite his being a deep and committed republican—he has represented our nation not just here at home but also overseas, and for the way he has comforted citizens and subjects who are deeply mourning the loss of the Queen. I want to quote some of his empathetic remarks:
From the moment the young princess became Queen, Her Majesty's dedication to duty and service over self were the hallmarks of her reign. Performing her duty with fidelity, integrity and respect for everyone she met. … Queen Elizabeth II was a wise and enduring presence in our national life.
Similarly, I acknowledge the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Dutton. When we were at the memorial service yesterday, we heard three amazing contributions: from our Governor-General, calling on us to continue sincerely the journey of reconciliation as a country, and also from our Prime Minister and Mr Dutton. He made this remark:
Despite her royalty, she possessed extraordinary humility, greeting all those she met with courtesy, treating them as equals and offering an attentive ear.
The adjectives around our monarch on her passing have, I think, given all of us pause for reflection, as leaders within our own political parties and within our own communities, on her servant approach. I know that I personally—and I hope I speak for all of us—want to take a bit more of her in our everyday going about our business and the example she gave us. It has been acknowledged that our Queen was devoted to duty and that her public commitment was unwavering. Family and faith were important to her, and her sense of commitment and dedication to her position as monarch was absolute. No matter what was thrown at her, she nurtured the monarchy through times of change and the many emotional challenges that most families have to go through.
Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was born on 21 April 1926 in London. She was the eldest daughter of Prince Albert, Duke of York, and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. As the child of the youngest son of the then King George V, she would have thought she had little prospect of ascending one day to the Crown. She went off and married that very handsome Prince Philip, who was the love of her life and who she is now reunited with, and had four children: Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward. Obviously, the health of King George VI entered a serious decline in the summer of 1951, and Princess Elizabeth represented him at the Trooping of the Colour and on various other state occasions. Princess Elizabeth and the duke were on tour in Australia and New Zealand when, en route to Kenya, news reached them of the king's death on 6 February 1952.
Elizabeth was only 25 when the news came and she was now Queen. Her coronation was held at Westminster Abbey in 1953, on 2 June, and the following year the royal couple left for an extensive tour of the Commonwealth, including Australia. It was the first visit to Australia by a reigning monarch. She has been a regular visitor to Australia throughout her reign—16 visits. The Queen has celebrated all aspects of culture and life from sheep farms to natural wonders such as the Great Barrier Reef, from the triumph of Olympic and Commonwealth sporting meetings to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, culture and tradition.
The Queen was known to favour simplicity in court life, and was also known to take a serious and informed interest in government business aside from traditional ceremonial duties. The Queen's visits to Australia incorporated significant ceremonial events, including the opening of federal parliament in 1974, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 1981, and Australia's bicentenary celebrations and the opening of this building in 1988, where her speech, I think, still speaks to us:
Parliamentary democracy is a compelling ideal, but it is a fragile institution. It cannot be imposed and it is only too easily destroyed. It needs the positive dedication of the people as a whole, and of their elected representatives, to make it work.
This is surely one of the characteristics that has attracted so many people to come to Australia from countries which do not enjoy the benefits of a parliamentary system in such large measure. This includes being part of a constitutional monarchy where our head of state is above politics. I think we've seen the constancy of the Crown on display over the last two weeks. We saw our now King, Charles III, take on royal duties, and we saw the new Prince of Wales and his young son and heir, Prince George, attend his grandmother's funeral.
The Queen was the only female member of the royal family to have entered the armed forces and served in World War II. As a woman in leadership, I admire her ability to role model. Decades before it was popular or accepted for women to be having very serious conversations with very serious men about affairs of state, this was a young woman whose servant leadership, and the fact that she actually joined the armed forces despite being a member of the royal family, showed that she didn't see gender as a barrier to what her role modelling was going to be.
The royal visit of 1954—and a big shout-out to my mum, who was one of those baby boomers on the side of a road somewhere in a country town waving a flag for the Queen—was probably the most popular of all royal visits. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh undertook a tour of all of our states and territories, arriving in Sydney Harbour. I think they travelled 2,000 miles by road—130 hours in motorcars—visiting 70 country towns and making 100 public speeches. If that's a work ethic that we senators could adopt and apply to our work, I think maybe our institution would be a lot more popular, a little like the monarchy is at the moment. After the vastness of the tour by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1954, then Prime Minister Menzies thought that we needed less formal tours going forward, and that is absolutely what occurred. In 1973 the Queen opened the landmark Sydney Opera House, and in 1977 Australia also featured prominently in the Silver Jubilee celebrations.
Her last visit was in 2011. A reception in the great hall was part of the tour, which ended with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth. There are many of us here today who were at that particular event. Prime Minister Gillard was ushering Her Majesty through the great hall. I was a very new senator; I think I must have only been here about three or four months. I'd brought my royalist mother up for the occasion as well, who was breathless just looking at it all. I lined up. The Leader of the National Party then was Warren Truss. He said: 'Bridget, we're going to have an afternoon tea with Her Majesty at Government House on the weekend. You get to the front of the queue, so you get to meet her.' I thought, 'Oh, okay!'
The Prime Minister is introducing her to each person. I'd practised my curtsy to every MP, and I could see poor Prime Minister Gillard's face when she suddenly saw this new female senator and had no idea who I was. I see her face; she's thinking that she's going to have to do something terrible. Anyway, Prime Minister Gillard said, 'Your Majesty, the Leader of the National Party, Warren Truss'—who was about 10 rows deep in the bleachers. Warren got to the front and he knew what his duty was; he was going to assist the Prime Minister with introducing the newest National Party senator, Bridget McKenzie from the great state of Victoria—he probably didn't add 'great'! I did my curtsy and then Her Majesty said to me, 'How new is new?' She was just gorgeous, all silvery and, as everybody who has met her has said, genuine, warm and accommodating. Everyone who knew her has commented on her humour as well.
The Queen was aware of the modern role of monarchy—for example, allowing the televising of the royal family's domestic life and condoning the dissolution of her sister's marriage. She commented on 1992 being a very troubling year for her family—not just as a monarch but as a family. She was very pragmatic; in that year there was also resentment with a recession in Britain, and she pragmatically decided to pay taxes on her private income, making sure the monarchy was not just seen to be believed but also relatable to everyday Australians.
The Queen stood out and became the first British monarch to visit the Irish Republic and to set foot in Ireland since 1911. She continued to approach every engagement with vigour and spirit, fulfilling her duty with dedication and dignity. But one of the things I really enjoyed about Her Majesty was that she was a countrywoman at heart. She was never happier than when she was at Balmoral, riding her horse well into her 90s—that is no easy task, as anybody that's ridden a horse before knows—pursuing farming interests, enjoying hunting et cetera. In fact, we corresponded about my concerns that the RSPCA—a royal society, no less—was seeking to shut down horse racing, to make changes to farming practices and to stop hunting. Her Majesty, who enjoyed all three of those pursuits, encouraged me to continue to pursue the RSPCA. She brought her horseback riding talents to her role as monarch as she trooped the colour as well. She loved a horse race; it was great to see some of our great Australian trainers attend her funeral on our behalf.
Whether it be her Christmas messages, the Trooping of the Colour or seeing her on our shores, Queen Elizabeth has been a significant part of our nation's story for 70 years. Popular, measured and much loved, she lived a long and fruitful life. She will be remembered as a dedicated public servant and an adored daughter, wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She refused to slow down. I think that photo of her swearing in the latest Prime Minister, Liz Truss, is just fabulous—her eyes twinkling, her mouth smiling, only to be taken from us two days later.
As a party that is over a century old, the National Party in its own constitution has objects which require it to promote within Australia a society based on Christian ethics and loyalty to the Crown. We are, I would say, the only political party in this place that still holds those tenets to our core. The Queen's passing saw an outpouring of grief as silent crowds gathered to pay their respects to our sovereign—a wonderful example of servant leadership. Her faith as the head of the Church of England was clear and unambiguous, and I think you saw a service which she had so much input into which really made Christianity accessible to the millions of people of all faiths and many of no faith. It saw Christianity on display in a way that a lot of people can relate to.
There will be questions following the Queen's death around our constitutional arrangements over the coming period. Our Constitution is one of the six oldest continually operating in the world. No country should alter its constitutional arrangements if they work well simply because of where a sovereign resides. For a long time, governors-general and governors in Australia have been Australians. We should not dismiss constitutional monarchy simply because it is seen as unfashionable by some in society or because the popular media are going through a phase of disaffection with some members of the royal family, who, earlier, they covered with fawning attention. It is also important to emphasise that, in every legal respect, Australia is a completely independent country, as was finally affirmed when the Queen of Australia personally assented to the Australia Act in 1986.
The constancy of the Crown is on display. The National Party offer our deepest sympathies to the royal family and to subjects right throughout the Commonwealth. May we in this place seek to emulate her example in service to others, in service to our nation and her ferocious work ethic, sense of duty, humility, quiet courage, on behalf the people who also sent us here. Rest in peace, Your Majesty; long live the King.
I rise today to add to the condolences on the passing of Her Majesty on behalf of the people of the ACT and Norfolk Island. As others have noted, over the past fortnight we have paid respect, honouring the Queen's life and service. In doing so, I also want to acknowledge the feelings of First Nations people and the history these events have caused us to revisit, as we should honestly and with compassion. What comes next will be a conversation about our future. My hope is that we can have that discussion with respect.
I met Her Majesty in 2008 at Windsor Castle during a tour of the UK with the Wallabies. I was struck by her ability to find interest in whatever conversation she was engaged in. Despite the extraordinary number of people she must have met every week, she seemed to be able to bring a real warmth and attention to whoever she was speaking with. Rather than simply sharing my own thoughts or experiences, I would like to take the opportunity to share a few short reflections from people in the ACT and Norfolk Island. Reflecting on these stories, we are reminded of the character of Queen Elizabeth as a dedicated public servant and a person whose warmth touched many people in our country and abroad. We are reminded that the Queen served through a time of great change and of how different the world looks now to when she was crowned.
Firstly, I would like to share the story of Gordon Robson, an 89-year-old. Gordon recently told me he remembers the Queen's Coronation in 1953 as if it were yesterday. At 19, he was picked to go to London for the occasion, beating 96 other candidates from Queensland. At the very last minute, his contingent were asked to stand guard at the palace and participate in a changing of the guard. Nerves were electric. As he recently told the ABC, no-one knew about it and so it was panic stations. Fortunately the day went off without a hitch. As Gordon said, 'It was a hell of a trip. It was just magical and so overwhelming, just knowing the Queen was sitting in a chair watching. We were doing it for her. RSM Britain was heard to say to one of our officers afterwards, "That was one of the greatest changing of the guards I have ever seen." We were thrilled. It was the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.'
The next is from Carolyn in Canberra, which I will read directly: 'In 1952, when Elizabeth became Queen, it was a time when women were not heads of countries or at the tables of boardrooms or even office managers. At the time, married women were not even allowed to work in the Australian Public Service yet, at the age of 25 and as a mother of two young children, she took on the responsibility as the head of several countries. I often wonder what she wanted to do when she was young, before she knew her destiny was to be Queen. Her duty extended right to the end, just days before passing. Her first British Prime Minister was born in 1874; her last in 1975.'
From Janet in Canberra: 'I have always admired the Queen and her ability to do her work. She was not perfect but she did an amazing job for an extraordinary length of time. We must remember she was a human being, a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother.' From Mary on Norfolk Island: 'In 1974 the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Norfolk Island, one of the furthest and most remote reaches of the Commonwealth. My late husband, Bernie, was honoured to be chosen to show the royal family around the Kingston area, travelling around in the Queen's car. Bernie was amazed at their intense interest and curiosity in the historic area and their extreme graciousness.'
Yesterday we took time to mourn the passing of Her late Majesty. As we know, and I have been reminded by my community, there is yet more to mourn. First Nations people have been mourning for centuries for their ancestors, for their children and for their lands that were stolen. We have yet to finish this mourning, this sorry business. Ahead of us are some difficult conversations about our heritage and how we grow from here.
I am conscious that the job of reconciliation feels impossible under the shadow of the British Empire. We are called to have these conversations soon, when we're honest about both our history and what has brought us here. When we bring into focus how much we have in common, what binds us together, we can then forge a path forward that allows us to strengthen our bonds and pride in this great country.
We have a shared love for this incredible continent; a desire to build great lives for our families; a commitment to ensuring all Australians have the opportunity to reach their potential; a character that rises to the challenge, that shows its best when the chips are down and communities face natural disasters. We have a growing recognition and celebration of the oldest continuing cultures in the world. This requires the uncomfortable acknowledgement that modern Australia was built on the dispossession of First Nations people. There is much work to do here, as we have heard over the last two weeks. Neither you nor I, President, and no-one else in this place or the other personally oversaw this, but we have the great privilege of being able to help further the conversation about what Australia can look like and to take meaningful steps towards helping make that happen.
What are the things we must do to begin to face up to this history? How do we ensure that we take-up the generous offer of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and have a voice that can guide truth and reconciliation? How do we have these conversations in a way that unites rather than divides. This is a huge challenge but an even bigger opportunity for all of us. We can acknowledge the Queen's steady presence in a changing world while also furthering the conversation about what it means to build our future together here in Australia in that changing world.
I will leave you with this First Nations proverb read by Her late Majesty at the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting:
We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love … and then we return home.
Over the past two weeks, Australians have remembered a remarkable leader, a woman of warmth and humanity and a constant through a period of enormous transformation for the world, for the Commonwealth, for Australia and also for the constituency I represent here in the ACT and in Norfolk Island, where the Queen visited in 1974.
The Queen was a close friend of our nation's capital, a cherished hometown and the city that she visited the most. From the moment she first arrived here in 1954, stepping out at Old Parliament House in her coronation grown, the Queen saw in Canberra the promise of a modern Australia. Half a century ago she said: 'At the time, Canberra was a little more than a dream in the minds of a few men. Today it is established and flourishing. A beautiful city is being created.' As the years passed, and over 13 subsequent visits, the Queen watched that creation unfold.
She was here for so many of our moments, the big and the small. Whether she was cutting ribbons at the ANU's RG Menzies Library, the National Carillon, the High Court, the National Gallery or this very building we meet in today; whether she was being greeted by 16,000 excited children at Manuka Oval or dutifully inaugurating Bonython Primary School; or whether she was honouring Canberra's emergency responders with a handshake and warm words of thanks, sparking fierce local debate about the pronunciation of Manuka—or is it Manuka?—or simply stealing a quiet moment observing the kangaroos in Government House's grounds, the grounds at Yarralumla that she loved and felt so at home in, you got the sense that as she watched our city grow the Queen made a real effort to know us, to know who we were and who we wanted to be.
Canberrans were proud that the Queen thought of our city as her home away from home in Australia. I know that those who shared a moment with her over the years saw much more than a monarch. They saw genuine interest and a person who put people at ease—for those who were nervous about meeting her. A little girl who greeted the Queen at Floriade one year said to her mum afterwards, 'Mum, it was like talking to your grandma; she was so tiny and soft.' That same day, the Queen pointed out the English daisies to one of the gardeners at Floriade. He said he would remember that moment for the rest of his life.
It was an honour to meet her in 2011 as Chief Minister. The day we met, I remember clearly. I met with her several times over her week-long stay. On arrival, at the beginning of her visit, the setting was decidedly low-key—a Wednesday evening on the tarmac at Fairbairn. Standing next to me was the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard and then Governor-General Dame Quentin Bryce. We were there to greet Her Majesty for what would become her final visit to Australia. It wasn't until we were standing in ceremonial order with the Federation Guard welcoming Her Majesty that it dawned on me—four leaders in a row, four women, a major first in the history of women's leadership in our country. And it will remain a lasting memory for me.
As Canberrans take in the view upstairs on the Queen's Terrace here and follow the gaze of the Queen's bronze effigy, as we take our seats in Queen Elizabeth II's grandstand at Thoroughbred Park or meet up with friends at the Queanbeyan park bearing her name, as we give thanks for the life-changing care provided to generations of Canberra families by the nurses, midwives, counsellors and doctors at the QEII Family Centre in Curtin, and as we wander the lake's edge along Queen Elizabeth Terrace or stroll over the bridge to Queen Elizabeth II Island, our city gently reminds us—Her Majesty the Queen was a part of our history, and we of hers. May she rest in peace.
It is an honour and a privilege to rise to speak to this condolence motion for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the greatest and most enduring leader the world has ever seen. Over the past two weeks, while we have mourned and reflected on Her Majesty's extraordinary life, many people from all around the world have made observations about what made this remarkable woman so special. There is, of course, no single observation that can answer this question. In fact, a life lived so well, in which so much was achieved and so much good was done, in many ways defies analysis or observation. It simply speaks for itself.
I honour and pay tribute today to a woman who in every way possible lived up to a promise that she made at a very young age. As we have heard, it was the then Princess Elizabeth who, on her 21st birthday on 21 April 1947, gave a speech in which she said:
I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.
What a vow to make to literally millions of people in Commonwealth countries all around the globe. We now know, of course, that Her Majesty lived a very long life and without a doubt fulfilled that promise, right up to the last moments of her life. There Her Majesty was, just two days before she passed, swearing in the new British Prime Minister, the Rt Hon. Elizabeth Truss. And, despite her obvious frailty, she performed that duty to perfection.
I think the ultimate selfless act at the end of her life was how she did not burden her subjects with any worry of her health. She just quietly retreated to her beloved Balmoral to embark upon her final journey.
My first encounter with Queen Elizabeth was as an 18-year-old university student in Western Australia. Her Majesty was on her 1988 bicentenary tour of Australia, in which she visited every state and territory and, of course, officially opened this place, the new Parliament House. I was honoured to be invited to an official garden party in Perth and had the privilege of meeting and speaking with Her Majesty. I still remember how at ease she made us all feel and how vivacious she was. Her Majesty was genuinely enjoying being in Australia, and for me, like so many others, it was a privilege to be in her presence. I was delighted to be able to meet Her Majesty again in Perth when she visited for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting during her final tour of Australia in 2011. It struck me at the time that she still displayed the same spirit and the same genuine love and affection for Australia that she had all those years earlier.
The Queen visited Australia on 16 separate occasions during her reign and was deeply loved and respected by the people of this nation. The Queen was the rock of our constitutional monarchy and represented the stability we have in our great democracy. Her Majesty showed us from the beginning to the end of her reign that she was a lady of grace, dignity and duty. That is how she reigned. Her Majesty had a genuine affection for her subjects and a genuine desire to see them succeed. It is one of the great lessons in leadership that the Queen has given this world. A true leader has a deep desire for those she leads to succeed. Her selfless and unfailing devotion to duty is also a great lesson, particularly for all of us in this place where we gather to serve the Australian people. If we are able to show just some of the dedication to duty that Her Majesty did during 70 years as our monarch, we will go a long way to serving the Australian people as they truly deserve.
This condolence motion today brings to an end the official mourning period and commemoration of Her Majesty's life, but I feel, for many of us, she will be in our thoughts for the rest of our lives. What an inspiration she was, and will remain, for millions of people all over the world. Rest in peace, Your Majesty. Long live the King.
I rise to add my voice to the motion of condolence. For 70 of our 120 years of federation, Queen Elizabeth II has served as our sovereign head of state, providing a constant, steady presence during a period of significant change. She committed her life to the service and duty of the Crown, accepting these responsibilities when Britain was rebuilding its national identity after the Second World War. The Queen's long reign granted her iconic status.
The outpouring of grief we've seen over the past fortnight is unprecedented, with people lining up to be part of this important moment in history. To her family and to those who knew her, I send my condolences, and I hope they have the space and the time to mourn their much-loved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. To the rest of us, the Queen was a symbolic figure. These symbols have different meanings for different people spanning many generations across the world. The unquestionable impact of the Queen has a continual and lasting symbolism for Australians and those of other Commonwealth countries across the world, and a very, very different legacy, particularly for our First Peoples here in Australia.
In these past few days I have followed, and reflected on, people's sense of loss, uncertainty and sadness, and I want to acknowledge the nuanced, complex emotions that we are feeling right now as a nation. Amongst these are the feelings of anger, distress, hurt and frustration felt by First Nations people, whose sorry business, unfortunately, does not end today. The irony comes from so-called progressives in this country who are silencing the voices in their disapproval of anyone who is brave enough to speak up since the Queen died a fortnight ago. We are a mature nation capable of conversations that commemorate the life of a public figure, while calling out the problematic legacy of the British Empire.
I will not focus on the faults and failures of the Crown, as this is an important conversation for another day, but today I will respectfully acknowledge the long and dutiful life of the Queen, with reference to our relational sphere that continues some of the oppressive systems that benefit a few and not all of us as Australians. Australians believe in a fair go and that we are all equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities. For my people, we have a very different lived experience that has been one of resilience and survival, fighting to protect and defend our ancestral knowledge, culture, language and sacred places, all from which we draw our strength, our identity and our sovereignty, which we have never ceded.
These are tough conversations to hear and share, and it's even harder to live through the oppressive systems that continue to perpetuate them. As a nation, we have to tell all sides of the story. This process starts with me, it starts with you, and it starts right here in the federal parliament. This week marks the end of an era, and, as the public mourning for the Queen wraps up, it's time to have a yarn about nation-building. Globally, these conversations are igniting republican movements, including here in Australia. Our process starts with truth-telling and, more importantly, truth-listening.
There are many things we can do today to make a difference, including legislating the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Bill to protect free, prior and informed consent for First Nations people against continued exploitation, implementing the recommendations from the Bringing them Home report and the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody report, and progressing our own national treaty.
Queen Elizabeth Windsor believed in something bigger than herself. Today, I want to quote her words:
It is through this lens of history that we should view the conflicts of today, and so give us hope for tomorrow.
We in this chamber should reflect on whether we are here for something bigger than ourselves. Together this parliament can chart a new course for all Australians for that tomorrow with one of its own as an elected head of state where First Nations sovereignty lies along the legal embodied sovereignty of this nation's Constitution. Right now, we have the greatest opportunity for renewal and growth of this nation that we have ever known.
CICCONE (—) (): I'd also like to join my colleagues in the Senate in expressing my deep condolences on the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. I was pleased to be in the parliament yesterday for the national memorial service for Her Majesty. It was a moving and fitting service. It conveyed the grief felt right across Australia upon the death of the Queen.
The Queen represented so many of the values that we treasure in Australia. She carried herself with a quiet dignity that made her public contributions all the more meaningful, and she carried out her duties as Queen of Australia with a steady determination for the longest reign in history. The Queen's affection for Australia has been well documented. I believe Australians are proud of the special place our country held in the heart of our late sovereign.
The Queen visited Australia on 16 occasions. I am sure many of us have been going back over old footage and documents of the tours since Her Majesty's passing. I still find the huge crowds and their adoration quite striking. It's been evident over the past two weeks that this has not faded over time as Australians from all walks of life have expressed their deep sorrow.
During what sadly would have been her last visit to Australia in 2011, the Queen spoke of how Australia had grown since she first came here in 1954. Australia, she said:
… has made dramatic progress economically, in social, scientific and industrial endeavours and, above all, in self-confidence.
I believe that this speaks to Her Majesty's admiration and affection for our country but also to how she viewed our progress as part of the Commonwealth. In her view, there was no conflict between Australia becoming more modern and self-confident and her relationship with us as our sovereign. This represents her approach throughout her reign. She never held back the progress of any nation, and, in fact, welcomed and encouraged innovation and changes that have shaped the world into the one that we now know today—a very different world to when Elizabeth II first became Queen in 1952.
Australia certainly looks very different today, with families from all over the world coming to call this great country of ours home since the Queen's accession. I know many of us from migrant families have been deeply affected by Her Majesty's passing. Even though they may have come from countries with no relationship with the Queen, swearing allegiance to the sovereign when attaining their citizenship was, for many migrants here in Australia, part of the most important day of their lives. This was certainly the case for some of my family who have always been fond of the Queen since they came to Australia having migrated from Italy. For many migrants, particularly those from war-torn countries, the Australian system of government with a British head of state was a representation of stability, with its processes providing a transparency in the application of state power that is lost on so many parts of the world.
She reigned for 70 years, the longest of any British sovereign in history. And I read recently that 94 per cent of the world's population was born during her reign—an extraordinary number. It is not surprising that so many around the world, and especially in Australia, saw her as a source of strength and certainty in addition to her personal attributions of kindness and compassion.
Of course, Her Majesty was also a mother, a grandmother and great-grandmother in addition to her role as Queen, so I want to particularly express my condolences to the royal family, to His Majesty, who must process their personal grief while shouldering the burdensome processes of state that followed the death of a sovereign. A long life devoted to duty, to family, to faith and to service has come to an end, and I know that right across Australia we will all grieve Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. May she rest in eternal peace and may God save the King.
Well how do you condense 70 years into five minutes? Indeed, the Queen's service goes beyond her reign as monarch. It began the minute she became heir at just 10 years of age, and it continued, still undertaking formal duties, right up to two days before her unfortunate passing. Indeed, that is why her passing was such a surprise to many.
She was Queen of Australia, and her links to Australia and her attention to Australia started very early in her reign. She was the first and only reigning monarch of Australia to have set foot on Australian soil. Her father was yet to become king when he visited Australia to open the first Parliament House. From her first visit to her 16th, and her last, visit in 2011 she made sure the regions were as integral to her itinerary as the capital cities. Her acknowledgement of all of Australia and all Australians is why she was so widely loved and respected throughout the nation. The outpouring of grief and the enormous sense of loss has been felt by Australians from all walks of life, from those who merely saw her passing by to those who had the honour of meeting her.
Her first tour in 1954 set the standard for her future visits, starting in Sydney and finishing, 58 days and 57 towns later, in Fremantle. During that tour she visited every state and territory across the country by train, plane, ship and car, and much of it was spent in the regions. In New South Wales alone, she visited Casino, Lismore, Dubbo, Wollongong, Bathurst, Lithgow, Katoomba and Wagga Wagga. In fact, Her Majesty toured the northern New South Wales rivers region just days before the horrific 1954 flood disaster. Thousands stood in the rain to see her. When she left the region turned into survival mode—as they have been in during much of this year—as the Richmond River peaked at 13.4 metres. Her visit to Bathurst in 1954 lasted just 75 minutes, yet it is still heralded as one of the greatest days of that town, such was her enduring presence. Her visits often coincided with great events: the 1970 royal tour, at the time of the bicentenary of James Cook's voyage; the 1973 opening of the Sydney Opera House; the 1988 opening of this building. Her visits recognised our economic drivers in Australia. She toured mines, steelworks and farms. She spent days inspecting and learning about the Snowy Mountains scheme. She visited the Great Barrier Reef, one of our tourist meccas. In fact, the Queen probably visited more cities, towns and institutions than most Australians.
Of all of her enduring strengths and commitment is her commitment to service. Here was a woman who understood that to lead was to do. I was especially in awe of her keenness to contribute to the war effort, even as a teenager, first speaking to children of the war via the BBC radio's Children's Hour, before enlisting in the Auxiliary Territorial Service—the women's branch of the British Army—when she turned 18. She trained as a mechanic and vehicle maintenance worker, and it is said she kept that keenness for driving engines throughout her life. I vividly remember when I saw photos of a young Queen, our Queen, in army greens, changing tyres on a military vehicle, I knew if she could do it I could do it, so when I turned 18 I joined the Australian Army Reserves.
I was also lucky enough, as a young backpacker in London working in the banqueting section at the Dorchester Hotel, to work at a state banquet attended by the Queen. She made a point of acknowledging and personally speaking to every member of staff at the event—something many other celebrities who I served during my time there never did.
She was our Queen, our head of state, but she was also a wonderful mother, a grandmother, a wise counsel, a leader dedicated to service for over seven decades. We are all truly blessed to have been part of this period in history—the second Elizabethan era—and she will be warmly remembered, respectfully and sadly, for generations to come. May she rest in peace, and long live the King.
We reflect on the life of the Queen today, from stolen Ngunnawal and Ngambri land, and I pay respect to their elders and to all First Nations peoples across this country, including those in our parliament with us here.
Queen Elizabeth was loved by millions around the world, and as the BBC said in their obituary to her:
The long reign of Queen Elizabeth II was marked by her strong sense of duty and her determination to dedicate her life to her throne and to her people.
I send my love to her family and to all who are mourning her passing.
Elizabeth became Queen eight years before I was born, and I remember hot summer afternoons as a child, browsing through large format picture books of her coronation and her visits to Australia in 1954 and 1963. My school friends and I would daydream about marrying Prince Charles and becoming a princess and then queen. 'God Save the Queen' was our national anthem, and the Queen's portrait was in our schools, beaming down benevolently on my life of white middle-class privilege. God was in his heaven, the Queen was up there on the wall, and all was right with the world. So it's no wonder that Australians like me—products of white settler colonialism, products of empire, of stolen land—are mourning the loss of the Queen, and grieving because their loved monarch, at the apex of the suite of institutions that structure our lives, has passed on. I truly respect that grief, but we have to look beyond the grief, to the experiences and feelings of people who weren't and aren't part of this privileged group.
Queen Elizabeth was by all accounts an intelligent and thoughtful woman, a woman who surely felt that she was working for justice and peace and who surely felt that being truthful was a virtue. The big truth that I'm sure she would have agreed with is that not everyone did so well out of the settler colonialism that she and her forebears presided over and still preside over. Indeed, Senator Pat Dodson has described how his grandfather, Yawuru leader Paddy Djiagween, asked the Queen in 1963: 'Why can't we have the same rights as the white man?' The Queen promptly agreed and indicated her wish that he be given full citizenship. Yet at this time, Australia, the country she was head of state of, was stealing kids from their families, ripping culture and communities apart, and it is doing so to this day, with thousands of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care, not living with relatives, friends or Indigenous caregivers.
Uncle Archie Roach was the same age as my elder sister. While we grew up with our parents' love, knowing our place in the world, his world, like so many others', was ripped apart. We were white; they were black. Now, while my kids have had the opportunities to launch off into satisfying lives of their own, too many young black men their age are locked up in prison. Boys as young as 10 are attempting suicide in youth prisons. Deaths in custody are still occurring with sickening regularity, with the latest young man dying just days before the Queen passed away. Yet where is the outpouring of grief for him? Where is the commitment to implement the recommendations of the royal commission, still as relevant today as they were 35 years ago?
The Commonwealth that the Queen presided over was and still is inherently racist. Our Australian nation is based on a lie of terra nullius: that, at its heart, our First Nations peoples are inferior to the invaders. We stole their land. We killed thousands in frontier wars. We didn't even attempt to sign treaties. The war and the genocide are ongoing, with the imprisonment, the taking away of children, the stealing and desecration of land with coal and gas mines, and the destruction of forests and totem species from logging.
I'm saying this here today because those of us who have benefited from our racist system need to speak up. I was proud to join the protest yesterday because to be silent is to consent. We need to keep on speaking up until justice is done, until we have faced the truth of our history—which is still resonating loud into the present—and until we commit to genuinely moving forward together.
Condolences to the Queen, but let's make our condolences productive and just. Let's work so that a legacy of the Queen's passing is the prompting of non-Aboriginal Australians to commit to using our privilege to work for truth-telling, peace and justice. Australia's First Nations people need more than a voice. Australia needs truth-telling, starting here in this place. We need justice. We need treaties. We need a republic, an Australia that has First Nations justice and First Nations wisdom at its core.
I rise on this motion to offer my sincere condolences to all those mourning today. In 1970, Queen Elizabeth II visited Victoria. There's a great photo of her meeting with Aussie Rules players from the Fitzroy Football Club at the MCG. This was the first ever Sunday match, put on by the league to honour the royal family.
In the photo, the Queen is smiling warmly and widely. The players sport magnificent coiffed hair and sideburns, as was the fashion of the day, with not a single mullet or tattoo sleeve in sight. There are a few lads in the line-up offering some cheeky grins as they greet Her Majesty. It looks to have been a great day. Victorians turned out in extraordinary numbers. Many thousands welcomed the opportunity to see the Queen back then, just as they are now embracing the opportunity to pay their respects at this time.
This country has seen a lot of change since that day in 1970. Throughout the decades since, the Queen's dedication to public service never wavered. Today, I recognise her life of extraordinary service, I recognise her as a model of discipline and duty and I recognise the grace with which she performed that duty, a grace often punctuated with doses of wit and good humour as well. I offer my sincere condolences to all those mourning her loss—those in Victoria who remember her 11 visits to our state, those who may have been amongst the estimated one million people who lined the streets of Melbourne in 1954 just to catch a glimpse, those mourning across the country and those across the seas as well.
Much has changed in our nation since that photo at the 'G in 1970, and the passing of the Queen has made us think again about who we are as a nation. I acknowledge again today the Ngunnawal people on whose land this parliament sits and the generous hand of reconciliation extended at yesterday's memorial service by Ngunnawal elder, Aunty Violet Sheridan. I recognise the long march of First Nations people towards recognition and respect for community, culture and country.
This is a time to reflect on an extraordinary life lived in public service and an opportunity to reflect on the solid and strong foundations upon which we can build our nation's future together, walking side by side—solid foundations of respect for a first people, strong foundations of pride in the multicultural nation we've become. This future is in all of our hands. It is ours to make and to make well. I offer again my sincere condolences to all those mourning today.
It was indeed an honour as a member of this Senate to attend the national memorial service for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the Great Hall of our parliament yesterday. Her Majesty's passing marks the end of an era, and it is right that we, as a nation and individually, pay our respects and record our grateful thanks for Her Majesty's lifetime of service, dedication and commitment. Her role asked a great deal of her, and she met that asking and exceeded it for over 70 years—a calm, principled leader, a woman who, particularly as Head of the Commonwealth, led in her own measured and considered way.
I've been thinking about the development of the Commonwealth during the Queen's reign in many ways—its constancy and her equally constant and steadfast leadership. On her first international visits as Queen, in her Christmas message of 1953, delivered from New Zealand, Her Majesty said of the Commonwealth:
It is an entirely new conception, built on the highest qualities of the spirit of man: friendship, loyalty and the desire for freedom and peace.
It was also in a speech to the nations of the Commonwealth on her 21st birthday in 1947 that the then princess made her oft recalled commitment to service, dedicating her whole life to the service of the peoples of the Commonwealth and its family. She spoke on that day of her love for the ancient Commonwealth but, importantly, fully recognised, in looking forward to the new post-war world, that the new Commonwealth would be a different shape, with a focus on the future and indeed on peace. This view was reinforced as both her engagement and her knowledge grew and as, in the ensuing years, her travels took her to more and more Commonwealth nations.
Her Majesty is particularly much loved across the Commonwealth countries of the Pacific. As well as Australia and New Zealand, on that tour in 1943, Her Majesty visited Tonga and Fiji. Following travels took her to Tuvalu, Kiribati, the Cook Islands, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu and, of course, back to the Pacific multiple times throughout her reign, including her 16 visits to Australia. Notably, whilst in Vanuatu in 1974 on the island of Tanna, ni-Vanuatu there formed the view that His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh was a divine being. I like to imagine the amusement that that may have generated in private moments between Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh, especially given all we know about her warm sense of humour. I acknowledge and thank Her Majesty for her leadership of the Commonwealth, particularly through very difficult times in very many member countries.
It has also struck me in recent weeks, as literally thousands and thousands of photographs of Her Majesty have covered our pages and our screens, that many of the warmest and happiest of those have been of the Queen with her family, of course, but also with her beloved animals—with her dogs, both corgis and dorgis, and her horses, horses at the Royal Windsor Horse Show and at Royal Ascot, her distinctive purple and red colours worn so proudly by jockeys, including here in Australia, and most recently on Chalk Stream, ridden by leading jockey James McDonald in Chris Waller's stable. Her own much-loved Carltonlima Emma was still ridden by her Majesty into her 90s—and, as Senator Cash reminded me, Emma beautifully joined the long walk this week. Records tell us that Queen Elizabeth won every classic race except the Epsom Derby. She celebrated 24 Royal Ascot winners as an owner, including the 2013 Gold Cup. I loved watching her warmth and love for the horse, as often those photographs were taken when she was unaware and at her most natural.
I also want to note her Majesty's strong commitment to the armed forces, not just those of the UK itself in her own role but across the Commonwealth. There have been many stories recorded in recent weeks, but today I want to acknowledge the extraordinary service of the bearers, who, in these recent weeks, have taken care of her Majesty as she made her way to her final rest, from Balmoral to Edinburgh, through London, to her resting place in King George VI Memorial Chapel in Windsor, with her beloved Prince Philip and her parents. They have taken such great care and been professional to the utmost in the execution of that responsibility with their precious burden. I've watched their faces, seen the emotions passing across those young defence members and admired their solemn dedication and strength. I acknowledge her Majesty's lifetime of leadership and dedication, her great love for family, and convey my sympathies to his Majesty, King Charles III; the entire royal family; and all the peoples of the Commonwealth. May she rest in peace.
I rise to give my condolences on the death of Queen Elizabeth II and to extend my sincere sympathies to her family and those who knew her personally. Elizabeth Windsor became the Queen of Australia in 1952 and reigned for 70 years. During that time, extraordinary changes occurred in our nation and in her empire. Many colonised nations sought and achieved independence, and many more signalled their intention to break from the United Kingdom.
Australia has made significant progress in the past 70 years, but many things remain unchanged. We still have no treaty with First Nations people, and we remain constitutionally wedded to a foreign power with an obscenely wealthy, legally immune head of state who is not Australian, a position entirely inherited and unearned.
The Queen was by all accounts a friendly, hardworking, determined, diligent and charming person, and her passing is felt keenly by many. But, as my colleagues have noted, she was still the head of an empire that violently colonised much of the world, including the First Nations people of this continent. First Nations people have never ceded sovereignty over their lands, seas and waterways. They were massacred, their lands and children stolen and their connection to country denied. Elizabeth Windsor did not personally commit these crimes, but her empire and her country did, and she accumulated vast wealth from the historical and ongoing exploitation of country. The office of head of state is not without blame for the colonisation of Australia.
Australia now has a king. Charles Philip Arthur George Mountbatten-Windsor, a 73-year-old Englishman, has become King Charles III, King of Australia. We had no say in this. The hereditary powers of the monarchy simply transferred from one person to another. We have been told that critiques of hereditary rule at this time are inappropriate, that it is disrespectful to suggest that Australia seriously consider its independence from the empire during a period of mourning, but now is the perfect time. Throughout the Queen's reign, many nations achieved independence from Britain, some peacefully, others fighting against colonial forces to achieve it. Now that the Queen has passed away, the time is right for Australia to have a full and frank conversation about the kind of nation that we want to be.
While Australia chose not to pursue independence 23 years ago, it is time for us to have that conversation once again. Australia should have its own head of state. We should have a head of state who is representative of Australia and its people. Their office should be respected and remunerated but should not be lavished with public funds which are then turned into private wealth, as it is with the monarchy. Australia should have a treaty with First Nations people. We should have a treaty that, as my colleague Senator Thorpe has said, finally ends the war against First Nations people and moves Australia forward as a nation together.
The passing of Queen Elizabeth marks the end of an era and represents a moment of opportunity for Australia. We can choose to remain tethered to a foreign country, pledging fealty to an unelected monarch presiding over a dying empire, or we can act with the kind of courage and dignity for which many praised Queen Elizabeth II and seize this chance to chart a new course. Treaty now, republic now.
Today the Australian parliament sits to express condolences on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. After a historic reign of 70 years, Her Majesty was laid to rest on Monday and honoured with a memorial service here yesterday.
As the first reigning British monarch to visit Australia, Queen Elizabeth II holds a unique and significant place in our national identity. Through her reign Her Majesty visited my home state of Queensland a total of eight times. Each visit was marked by the turnout of thousands of well-wishers—particularly in regional Queensland, where some people travelled hundreds of kilometres to get a glimpse of the pomp and ceremony.
Only a year after her coronation Queen Elizabeth II undertook an extensive tour of Australia, with a significant portion of that tour spent in regional Queensland. Through Bundaberg and Toowoomba, all the way through to Cairns, Her Majesty saw vast swathes of Queensland's landscapes and communities. Thousands of people welcomed Her Majesty in Townsville, which she called a beautiful city. Similarly she addressed unprecedented crowds in Cairns—so many, in fact, that one of the temporary stands built in Parramatta Park collapsed. Her Majesty's tour of regional Queensland was rounded out with short trips to Mackay and Rockhampton, where she expressed her sympathies with communities who had been affected by recent flooding events. Reflecting on her tour, Queen Elizabeth II said she was leaving Mackay with a deeper understanding of North Queensland, its peoples and their way of life.
On her tour in 1970 Queen Elizabeth II saw more of Queensland's diverse geography, doing both an inland and a coastal tour. In her first leg Her Majesty visited inland locations such as Longreach, Cunnamulla and Mount Isa. In Townsville she was central to an important part of local history, giving royal assent to the official establishment of James Cook University—a place where Eddie Mabo would go on to study law. Of special importance: in my role as Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, I want to acknowledge that Her Majesty, accompanied by Princess Anne, visited the Great Barrier Reef and had the opportunity to see for herself the magnificent natural wonder, with a visit to the underwater observatory on Green Island. She also touched the lives of people in Cairns and Mackay as she made short but impactful visits to both these cities.
While on a shorter trip to Queensland in 2002, Queen Elizabeth made an impactful visit to Cairns. Her Majesty launched the Royal Flying Doctor Service aircraft in Cairns Airport and visited the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. She also toured some well-known landmarks—the Skyrail and the Cairns Port Authority.
Over her 70-year reign Her Majesty met many politicians. She would have seen the best and the worst types of politics, of service and of duty. Politics, service and duty at its best recognises the existence and necessity of duality and compromise, and that absolutism is the enemy of that good type of politics.
We can do two things today during this period of reflection. We can pay tribute to an incredible woman who lived an incredible life and played an important role in our nation. We can also acknowledge that, in this country, sovereignty was never ceded and a treaty was never signed. We can do these two things respectfully and dutifully.
The privilege of service was bestowed on Queen Elizabeth by her birthright and it is one that she never took for granted. The privilege of service is bestowed on us as senators by the Australian public. May we never take that for granted.
As a senator for Queensland, I express my condolences to Her Majesty's family and to all of those around the world who grieve her passing. May she rest in eternal peace.
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.
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.
I rise to speak on this condolence motion for Queen Elizabeth II. I begin by passing on my sincere condolences to her family, King Charles III and her other children, her grandchildren, her great grandchildren and other family and friends. I'm sure this is a very difficult time for them, particularly when you are required to grieve so publicly and the grieving is broadcast and scrutinised around the world. I also acknowledge the genuine grief experienced by many in Australia, including so many in this chamber. It's important to respect the genuine shock and grief that this death has caused.
Personally, I never met the Queen. It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I do not believe in the divine right of one person or one family to rule over everyone else by accident or by birth. But, regardless, the loss of any human life should be respected. When someone has passed, I believe you should talk about who they really were. I commend the Queen's extensive support for charities throughout her life. She served as the patron or president of more than 600 charities and other public service organisations. In total it is estimated she raised billions of dollars for not-for-profits throughout her life. The Queen was also known to make some significant personal donations to humanitarian causes, including causes supporting victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, victims of the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and, most recently, victims of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I also praise the Queen's firm opposition to apartheid in South Africa, a political stance which put her at odds with the pro-apartheid Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. However, she didn't always get it right—such as her reported opposition to the miner's strike.
In reflecting on the Queen's death, I thought of the words contained in article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: 'All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.' These last two weeks have served as a reminder that this remains an aspirational statement. Over these two weeks of mourning and formalities, hundreds of thousands of people of equal human value to the Queen have died around the world. I'm sure it's been particularly difficult to lose loved ones during this time and see the significance of their loss be overshadowed by minute-to-minute coverage of the death of the Queen.
I want to take a moment to pass on my condolences to the families of anyone who has lost loved ones recently, like the family of Uncle Jack Charles. Uncle Jack Charles was a Boon Wurrung, Dja Dja Wurrung, Woiwurrung and Yorta Yorta man of tremendous artistic vision and talent. He was also a survivor of the Stolen Generations. That injustice was, of course, just one of the many perpetrated in Australia against First Nations people in the name of the Crown. This sort of severe trauma is transgenerational, so I can appreciate and empathise with First Nations people who may have, rightly, experienced very different emotions upon learning of this death. We should be a mature enough society to tolerate people with differing views, rather than abusing or cancelling them.
To that point, I will end by quoting a recent contribution by Stan Grant about grappling with the reaction to the Queen's death:
My people have a word, Yindyamarra—its meaning escapes English translation. It is a philosophy—a way of living—grounded in a deep respect.
I have sought to show Yindyamarra to those for whom this moment is profound. This is their 'sorry business' and I respect that.
But it will pass. For Indigenous people, our sorry business is without end.
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!
I rise to speak on the condolence motion to mark the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. I do so, as a senator for Tasmania, mindful that there are a range of views and emotions that may be experienced by Australians and Tasmanians during this time—indeed, across this chamber and the parliament. In my contribution today I would like to reflect on some of the traits that I feel the Queen embodied. These are: service to others, comfort and a determination to adapt to a changing world while trying to retain the essence of a position that went back a millennium. She embodied grace and dignity at all times, even through—as she called it—the 'annus horribilis'.
Her life was a life dedicated to service for so long that it's rare. For 70 years as Queen, and before that as Princess Elizabeth, she served her country and the Commonwealth. She was Australia's head of state for 70 of the nation's 121 years since Federation. She carried out more than 21,000 engagements and travelled to more than 150 nations, primarily on behalf of the United Kingdom but also on behalf of the Commonwealth of Nations and Australia. Her reign spanned 16 Australian Prime Ministers and included 16 visits to Australia. She visited my home state of Tasmania on a total of seven occasions: in 1954, 1963, 1970, 1977, 1981, 1988 and 2000. These occasions saw, across our state and across the decades, streets lined with Tasmanians wishing to see and to meet the Queen.
The Queen's good deeds extended to the support she gave to many important causes. Up until the age of 90, she was patron of around 600 different organisations. Through this support she raised the profile of these causes, both large and small, and promoted them to the broader public, which allowed others in turn to give service to these causes. It also enabled organisations to raise millions of dollars over the decades for their causes. Like Her Majesty, almost six million Australians volunteer each year, and I'm sure that many were inspired by Queen Elizabeth's example.
Many have quoted recently the message that the Queen sent to the United States of America after the 9/11 attacks, where she said that grief is the price of love. This condolence was just one of thousands that she conveyed to individuals and nations throughout her life. In response to sadness and tragedy experienced by others, she met the most human of needs: comfort. She sought to bring nations and people together. It is this support to those that were hurting that we can reflect upon today.
The lifetime of Queen Elizabeth II saw more changes than that of any other monarch. The changes to technology and society during the 70 years she reigned were unlike anything faced by any other monarch. Never before has a monarch had to face the advances and changes in technology that Queen Elizabeth II had to face, nor how these shaped public perception and changed the role of the monarchy. Over the many decades of her reign, Australia changed rapidly and in fundamental ways. Australia's population was just 8.6 million in 1952, compared with 26 million today, and we've moved from being a nation that was mostly homogenous and Anglo-Celtic to one that is diverse and multicultural, with different traditions and cultures from all over the world. Australians have gone from being isolated from the world to being able to travel freely and receive news and information instantly.
On Monday night Australian time, the Queen's funeral was held in Westminster Abbey. It's estimated that four billion people watched the broadcast, making it the most viewed broadcast of all time. This, I think, is a measure of the affection held for Queen Elizabeth II, not just in the United Kingdom or the Commonwealth of Nations but worldwide. The incredible, deep, dedicated duty that she embodied is something that people of all nations could admire.
I'll end my contribution by remarking that there is something inexplicable missing now that she has gone. For most Australians, she was the only monarch we had ever known. She lived an extraordinary life which touched the lives of millions. She gave comfort to many and provided an exemplary model of service to others. I extend my sympathies to her family—to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren—who must be feeling her loss profoundly, and to all those around our nation who are impacted by her death.
I, too, rise to pay a most sincere and heartfelt tribute to the life of a most extraordinary woman, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. I do so as a senator for Western Australia, as a senior officer in Her Majesty's Australian Army, and as a former minister of the Crown and member of Executive Council. So many wonderful and fitting eulogies and observations have been made about the Queen and her legacy, the legacy of the second Elizabethan era.
Like so many others, I have been surprised at the depth of my sadness, of my grief, listening to and reflecting on these many tributes. On reflection, as a monarchist, that might not be as surprising, but it is easy to take for granted such a constant presence in your life—one that has been so important to our democracy's stability. The past two weeks, for so many of us, have been ones of reflection, admiration, inspiration and gratitude for Her Majesty's selfless acceptance of her destiny and of her great responsibilities. We have all been reminded of the woman she was, the leader she was, her strength, her dignity, her kindness, her warmth, her great wisdom and, of course, her sense of humour.
It has also been an important time to reflect on the lessons of the Queen's reign and to take inspiration from her life of leadership and selfless service. She did not choose this life; fate did. Queen Elizabeth was born in London in April of 1926, the firstborn of the Duke and Duchess of York—born a princess but not heir presumptive. Her father, George VI, unexpectedly became King in 1936 upon the abdication of his brother, King Edward VIII, thus making Elizabeth, at just 10 years old, the presumptive heir to the throne. The course of her life became predetermined—a daunting challenge for any young woman of any era, but it was a challenge she rose quickly to and one that she maintained with great dignity and grace throughout her life.
She not only led her nation, the United Kingdom; she also ruled a realm, and lead it she did. Her greatest achievements as a leader were in what we did not see, what she did quietly but persuasively behind closed doors. She was quite simply a magnificent role model for women of many generations. At 21 she married the love of her life, Philip, who was her constant stay and strength. Their 73 years of marriage was one of family, of great joys, of great troubles and of tragedies that all played out, unlike for the rest of us, in the glare of the media. The Duke loved and supported his wife and he also selflessly served his Queen. Elizabeth was only 25 years old when in 1952 she became Queen. In 1954, Queen Elizabeth became the first monarch to visit Australia, making 16 trips in all, including seven memorable trips to my home state of Western Australia. She loved and respected us just as much we did her.
During World War II the Queen, then a princess, was the first female member of the royal family to join the armed forces in a full-time capacity. Her great affinity, affection and respect for her armed services endured throughout her reign. No group of subjects have mourned her passing more deeply than those who served in her armed forces across the Commonwealth. She had great empathy for the many challenges faced by service personnel, by veterans and by their families. After all, she was a mother who sent her own children and grandchildren to war. She understood.
Since Federation, Australia has had only five monarchs, with the Queen and her father, King George VI, together reigning for the past 85 years. During the Queen's own reign, 16 Australian prime ministers and 16 governors-general have served in her name and have benefited from her great guidance, wisdom and the stability she provided. That stability cannot and has not been replicated under any other modern system of government or head of state. The unprecedented global outpouring of genuine grief is evidence of this.
On her 21st birthday, Princess Elizabeth promised:
I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.
Your Majesty, you have faithfully and selflessly kept your promise. This loyal subject thanks you. Your duties are done. Rest in peace with your beloved Philip, parents and sister. Rest in peace, and long live the King.
I rise today to join the Senate in marking the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Much has been said in this debate already about Her Majesty's extraordinary contribution, and I acknowledge the words shared by my colleagues today. Born in 1926, Queen Elizabeth II's life spanned nearly a century of rapid and substantial societal, economic and political change. Much has been made about the longevity of her reign, and that she witnessed 16 Australian prime ministers, from Menzies to Albanese. Her connection to and love of Australia was strong and it was enduring.
Today I want to focus my remarks on the Queen's connection to my home state of South Australia, where she saw 15 different premiers lead our state. She visited my home state seven times over her 70-year reign, witnessing the evolution of Adelaide into a modern, vibrant urban capital, the development of our thriving industries and, of course, the change to those industries. Befitting the longevity and significance of her reign, her presence will continue to be felt across my state through the landmarks of which she is namesake, including the suburb of Elizabeth and its surrounding satellites, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the state electorate of Elizabeth. The kindness shown by the Queen to our state in times of tragedy, most recently during the bushfires that tore through our state, have always been noted and appreciated by South Australians. On her visits to our state she met figures who had their own impact on South Australia, from Thomas Playford taking her on a tour of the Holden factory to being accompanied by Don Dunstan as she toured of the city of Adelaide—the city which was embracing an artistic and vibrant future.
Through all of this change, the Queen was a constant, an enduring and reassuring presence through the rapid change of the past 70 years. It felt like she may just always be with us. As a little girl, I looked to our Queen fondly. She was a woman leading. So often she was the only woman in the room. Indeed, when she came to the throne in 1952 there had been only four women elected to this chamber, and two in the other place. Of course, it would be another 58 years before we had our own female leader in Prime Minister Julia Gillard. For all of my years, the Queen's authority as a woman in that role has been without question. While for committed Republicans like myself we cannot escape the fact that hers was a role born into, the fact that she commanded such respect, love and devotion for her service and duty meant that she was a powerful role model to so many girls, challenging the stereotypes around leadership, strength and who was worthy of being in the room. Now, as a working mother I have deep respect for the way she managed her role so diligently while raising four much loved children. Our thoughts are with her children, her grandchildren and indeed all who loved her and cared for her at this time.
The mourning for Her Majesty has been felt worldwide. This has also been a time for reflection on the work yet to be done to reconcile the dark parts of our history with the harmonious future we seek to build together. We must no longer be a nation that denies or ignores the truth of our past, and I believe we are sophisticated enough as a nation to speak and share the truth of our history while still being able to pay our respects to a remarkable woman. As we move beyond this Elizabethan era I hope we can channel the values of duty, service and commitment to country and community that Her Majesty so steadfastly modelled. Here I wish to borrow from our Prime Minister, and his words at the national memorial yesterday:
Perhaps the greatest tribute we can offer her family and her memory is not a marble statue or a metal plaque—it is a renewed embrace of service to community, a truer understanding of our duty to others, a stronger commitment to respect for all. This would be a most fitting memorial to a magnificent life. May Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II rest in eternal peace.
As a senator for Victoria, I am humbled to rise and speak on this condolence motion to honour the extraordinary life and unparalleled service of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. As Queen of Australia, Head of the Commonwealth of Nations, Her Majesty was our Queen. The world may never see a monarch like her again.
Ascending the throne at the age of 25, the Queen served our nation for 70 years and 214 days—the longest of any British monarch—with remarkable dignity and grace, deep integrity and an unwavering commitment to duty. While Australians mourn the loss of Her Majesty, we honour her devotion to faith, family and country. On 2 June 1953, on the eve of her coronation, the Queen, in a radio broadcast, pledged:
Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust.
Her Majesty never wavered from this solemn promise.
The Queen enjoyed a very special connection with Australia, visiting our shores on 16 occasions between 1954 and 2011. Her 11 trips to Victoria included watching the footy at the MCG, attending the races at Flemington, opening the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, and visiting numerous regional towns and cities, including Geelong.
Renowned for her sense of humour and her ability to relate to people from every walk of life, she won the hearts of millions of Australians wherever she travelled across our vast land. On her first visit, some seven million people turned out to acknowledge her passing through the streets, an incredible 70 per cent of the population.
One of the most famous photos of the Queen in Australia occurred in Geelong in 1988, when she was photographed by Darryn Lyons, who was then working for the Geelong Advertiser, throwing her head back in a gusto of laughter. 'The laughing Queen', as the photo was called, captured Her Majesty's wicked sense of humour. As the story goes, she was laughing at the antics of a dog called Spud, which was wearing a wristwatch on its paw. The then mayor of Geelong, Jim Fidge, asked the dog's owner, Peter Sharp, why the dog was wearing a watch. He answered, 'So Spud knows how to go around the sheep clockwise.' The mayor then responded, 'But it's a digital watch.' At that point, the Queen burst into laughter.
Such was the Queen's affection for Australia that, in 1966, the Queen and Prince Philip sent Prince Charles, as he was then, to school at Geelong Grammar's Timbertop campus near Macedon in Victoria. By all reports, Prince Charles adapted well to the arduous hikes in the mountains, the chopping of firewood to keep the boilers alight and a solid dose of Australian schoolboy humour. He has retained that very special connection with the great state I now represent in this place.
During the same visit in 1988, the Queen opened this building, the new Parliament House. As we heard yesterday at the national memorial service on the national day of mourning, the Queen acknowledged that her reign and the constitutional monarchy depended on the people she served. She said:
… a permanent home has been provided for Parliament, which is both the living expression of that Federation and the embodiment of the democratic principles of freedom, equality and justice.
Parliamentary democracy is a compelling ideal, but it is a fragile institution. It cannot be imposed and it is only too easily destroyed. It needs the positive dedication of the people as a whole, and of their elected representatives, to make it work.
On behalf of the people of Victoria, I convey my deepest condolences to King Charles III and the royal family who have lost a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
In his first speech, King Charles III honoured his beloved mother and pledged to serve with the same unswerving devotion. He said:
Thank you for your love and devotion to our family and to the family of nations you have served so diligently all these years. May flights of Angels sing thee to thy rest.
Rest in eternal peace, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
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.
tor McDONALD () (): 'A candle loses none of its light by lighting another candle.' Like the ability of just one candle to light countless others, Queen Elizabeth was able to touch countless lives without ever dimming. This giving of her light—freely, without expectation—embodies the character she showed as a royal and the seriousness with which she approached her reign. The Queen knew the crown was far more than an accessory; it is an important symbol—part of the protection of the fragile and important institutions of our democracy.
For those of us who knew no other monarch, Queen Elizabeth II was a constant, and reliable, beacon through our lives—a familiar touchstone of certainty and anchor of dependability that has been lost. That loss during these changing times is felt keenly.
She was also a paragon of womanly achievement ahead of her time, providing a role model to me as a serious leader, as well as a loving wife and mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, providing an example of grace and stoic leadership as she helped shepherd the Commonwealth through some of the most tumultuous changes in world history while also dealing with her own personal tragedies.
The Queen commanded universal respect, not because she was powerful but because she was genuinely interested in people, their cultures and their goals. From a young age she showed a deep understanding of the power the royal family could have in boosting people's spirits. It's impossible not to be moved by the genuineness in the then Princess's voice as she spoke on UK national radio, encouraging children to be brave as they were sent away to escape from Hitler's bombs. These war-years experiences no doubt set her resolve to commit to the unity of the Commonwealth and the importance of the defence of strong institutions and democracy.
In 1970, she was drawn to the red earth and spinifex of Mount Isa in north-west Queensland, and my mother joined many others who had driven for hours on dirt roads for this most auspicious occasion—some from as far away as the Gulf of Carpentaria and Birdsville, both hundreds of kilometres away. I was in Mount Isa that day, in a pram, not aware of the enormity of the moment, but I am glad to say I was there.
A suite at the historic Casa Grande in Mount Isa was redecorated and refurbished especially for Her Majesty's visit, and she attended a rodeo and presented sports trophies to local schoolchildren. At the Royal Flying Doctor Service base in Mount Isa, Winifred Seaton met the Queen and was quoted in the North West Star newspaper as saying: 'I was amazed at the casual way she walked through the base and spoke to us. She was marvellous.'
The royal couple also visited Mount Isa Mines, an experience immortalised in the company's records with the statement: 'They came as guests and left as friends.' It was this willingness to travel to important regional centres to see all her people that made her such a respected figure.
That year Queen Elizabeth also visited Townsville and gave royal assent to James Cook University, of which my grandfather Sir George Fisher was the first chancellor. Research indicates that, at this time, it was the only act of any Australian parliament to have received the personal assent of the reigning monarch—a rare event indeed.
Townsville residents remember the 1970 and 1954 royal visits with great fondness. It was in 1954 that Queen Elizabeth officially and somewhat controversially declared Townsville as the capital of North Queensland and remarked how strong and sturdy the children looked, considering that Europeans had previously thought the climate too hostile for them to thrive. Annette Rowlings was in grade 2 in 1970 and said she was so excited to see Her Majesty she thought her heart would burst. Other smaller Queensland centres the Queen has visited include Longreach—twice—Cunnamulla and Cooktown.
On the Queen's 2002 visit to Cairns, local tourism pioneer Ken Chapman remarked to the Cairns Post: 'We had international publicity for the whole region. That was why she did it I suppose. Most things the Queen did, it was for the benefit of other people and it was certainly the benefit of Cairns.'
For many, Queen Elizabeth's passing was like losing a beloved grandmother, and for me it was that and more. To me, the Queen embodied the perfect example of dignified servant leadership, genuine warmth, concern for others and intelligent though understated strength. May Her Majesty be forever remembered with the same deep fondness she showed Australia and her legacy be our continuation of the values and principles for which she lived. Long live the King!
I wish to echo the people of Tasmania's condolences on the passing of Her Majesty the Queen, our former head of state and leader of the Commonwealth of Nations. For most Australians, Queen Elizabeth II is the only monarch and head of state that they have known. Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Sir Robert Menzies was the Prime Minister of Australia when Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne.
The Queen was a stoic leader who provided strength, continuity and dignity in an ever-changing and, at times, uncertain world during her 70-year reign. She was always above politics, refusing to get involved in the daily rituals of political life—an attractive quality to the people of the world. Queen Elizabeth II represented a strength and resolve unmatched by any leader of the last century. I concur with the views that have been expressed that no-one else in human history has been as well mourned and mourned as much as Queen Elizabeth II because of her long reign, and our modern forms of technology, whereby almost everyone on earth knew who Queen Elizabeth was and what she represented.
During her time as sovereign she executed her duties with the utmost respect and diligence, and with great grace. Queen Elizabeth II not only served in the armed forces but was the royal head of the British army, navy and air force. During the Second World War she fixed and drove trucks, while training others to do so. She later went on to christen battleships and to visit military in garrisons and in the field. She was the first member of the royal family to serve on active duty during wartime. Her Majesty was a consummate professional and she did whatever it took to get the job done and serve her people until her final hours.
During her 70-year reign, Her Majesty visited Australia 16 times, making the trip to Tasmania seven times. She was the first reigning monarch to visit Tasmania, and during her visits she spent time meeting Tasmanians in Hobart, Launceston and the north-west coast of Tasmania. She visited military barracks, attended community events and interacted with the public. I had the pleasure, at that time, of meeting Her Majesty with her husband when she visited Launceston. I recall the visit in 2000 on 29 March, I assisted in the organisation to host Her Majesty at the Albert Hall and at City Park. I remember fondly the positive way Her Majesty and Prince Philip spoke of Launceston, and Tasmania more broadly. They were extremely interested in Tasmania, its history and its people. They were forever engaging and really consummate diplomats and leaders of their time.
I, along with the world, am mourning her, and I believe we will be feeling her loss for some time. We are unlikely to see a leader like her again. She was unmatched, and her contribution will not be forgotten. Her Majesty lived a life well lived, and the people of Tasmania thank her for all she gave us—her time, her energy, and her good grace. We may not see a Queen of England for decades, given the current line of succession, which makes her legacy even greater. She never asked or expected to be Queen of England and the leader of the Commonwealth of Nations, but from when she took the throne on 6 February 1952 until her death on 8 September 2022 she respected the office and protected it.
My thoughts are with the royal family and the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth during this difficult time. I wish King Charles III good health and prosperity during his reign. We will remember Queen Elizabeth II for her commitment and dedication to serving her family and her faith. Rest in eternal peace, and thank you, Ma'am, for all that you have done for us.
It is a deep honour to rise to speak on this condolence motion. In doing so, I deeply honour Her Majesty's commitment to duty, to service and to Australia, which is an inspiration to each and every one of us. The death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has been a time for deep reflection. We reflect on Queen Elizabeth's service as Queen for 70 years and 214 days. We reflect on that period of service, and we remember that Queen Elizabeth's life of service began even before her coronation.
At the age of 13, in October 1940, prior to becoming Queen, Elizabeth broadcast a message to the children of the Commonwealth, many of whom had been evacuated from danger in the United Kingdom, to give them her expression of hope and a positive message. She did this at a time when Great Britain, Australia, Canada and the rest of the Commonwealth were standing alone against the evils of Nazi Germany. At the age of 16, in 1942, she attended her first formal engagement, becoming a colonel of the Grenadier Guards, and at the age of 18 she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service, the armed forces, training as a mechanic and driver.
We reflect on how Queen Elizabeth discharged her duty and performed her services with compassion, integrity, dignity and humour. We remember that this was a role that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had been born into. It was not of her choosing. She had been born into this role, this position of deep responsibility. In doing so, we should also remember that, at the same time that Queen Elizabeth II bore these onerous responsibilities, she was also a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a sister. She had to withstand the great glare of public and media scrutiny throughout her time of service.
We also reflect on how Her Majesty was the Queen of Australia not just in name but also in essence. My good friend Senator Susan McDonald referred to Her Majesty's visit to Mt Isa in north-west Queensland in 1970, when something like 20,000 Queenslanders descended on Mt Isa to capture a glimpse of the Queen and Prince Philip at that point in time. Likewise, in my own patch of Ipswich, something like 17,000 people from Ipswich turned out at Queens Park to welcome the Queen and the Queen Mother when they visited that city in the 1950s.
Our Queen was not just Queen of Australia but Queen of her other realms and dominions, and in this respect I would like to give a short personal reflection. Senators will know that I have a deep connection with Papua New Guinea, having lived and worked there for a number of years. I can remember being with a client from overseas in Government House, getting some documents signed, and she asked me, 'Paul, why is the Queen of England on the wall?' I said: 'This is not the Queen of England in this capacity. This is the Queen of Papua New Guinea.'
It is an extraordinary story as to how the Queen became the Queen of Papua New Guinea. As PNG journeyed to independence, there was a meeting of its first constituent assembly, when its first elected officials came together as an assembly. They chose. They decided. They invited Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to be their Queen. She was not imposed on Papua New Guinea. She was not retained by Papua New Guinea. She was actually invited by the elected representatives of an independent state of Papua New Guinea to be their Queen.
That touched her deeply, and she discharged that obligation from the moment of that invitation to her passing. That is reflected in clause 82 of PNG's constitution. No doubt King Charles III will continue that role with great distinction. I should note here that when he was last in Papua New Guinea he introduced himself to the Papua New Guineans in Tok Pisin, a local dialect in PNG, as 'No. 1 piccaninny belong to Mrs Queen'. With that sort of sensibility, I'm sure King Charles III will discharge his obligations to the people of Papua New Guinea with great distinction.
Of course, King Charles III is now King of Australia. In discharging those duties, the King will be inspired by the example of his mother, just as all Australians have been and will continue to be inspired by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's example of dignity, compassion and service. May Her Majesty, our Queen, rest in eternal peace.
URQUHART (—) (): Whether you're a monarchist or a royal watcher, or whether you support Australia becoming a republic, this is a time when we reflect on the life of Queen Elizabeth II. For those like me who are avid watchers of TheCrown series on TV, I'm sure we all feel we have more of an insight into the life and times of Queen Elizabeth and her family. Wherever our views lie, we cannot dismiss the extraordinary life of the Queen, a life of privilege marred with turbulence, sorrow, grief and many other emotions that most of us experience in our lives. She was a Queen, a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother, and those who loved her will of course grieve and miss her dearly.
That extraordinary life really started when, at the very young age of 25, upon the death of her father, she became Queen. She was the only reigning monarch that many of us would have known in our lifetime. My own mother was an avid royal watcher, and in fact I think she had every Women's Weekly, every Woman's Day and any other magazine that featured any one of the royals on its cover. I know that she would have been saddened by the death of the Queen.
The Queen visited Australia 16 times from 1954 to her latest trip in 2011 and was the first British monarch to set foot on Australian soil. The first visit, in February 1954, saw her greet over 70,000 ex-service men and women, drive in cavalcade with massive crowds, attend many civic receptions and open the Australian parliament in Canberra. During this tour, she travelled 10,000 miles buy air and 2,000 miles by road, including 207 trips by car and appointed royal trains. It's estimated as much as 75 per cent of our population saw the Queen and Prince Philip on this tour, a staggering feat indeed. I can recall at a very young age visiting Launceston to catch a glimpse of the Queen amongst the crowds. I think it was in 1963. Again, this would have been at my mum's insistence. I met Queen Elizabeth at a reception in the Great Hall in October 2011 during her final visit to Australia. The Great Hall was of course packed full of people, and, as she moved through with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, I was introduced to her.
She had a love of animals and always had dogs by her side. She was gifted a corgi for her 18th birthday named Susan, and, according to some sources, Susan even joined the royal couple on their honeymoon. That lineage of breed continued for the next eighty years. However, Queen Elizabeth chose to stop breeding corgis after the death of her mother in 2002. It's also reported that the Queen had a personal cemetery built at Sandringham Estate, where every royal pet has been buried since 1887.
She won the admiration of many Australians during her reign. People have marvelled at her unflagging service. And, if you happen to look through the itinerary of a royal visit, the schedule is punishing, and to have maintained that type of schedule for 70 years is astounding. I'm sure we all know now those famous words to Commonwealth nations on her 21st birthday, that her whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service. It's a promise that she kept. May she rest in eternal peace.
I rise to support the motion of condolence on the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Overwhelmingly, the people of Australia, the Commonwealth and the world have noted the extraordinary service, good humour, humility and wisdom of our late monarch, who devoted her life to the people of Britain, to the Commonwealth and to their institutions. As the Governor-General said yesterday, however, this has not been the response of all Australians, given the history of Australia as a colony of Britain. It is true that throughout history empires dating back from the Babylonian to the Greek, the Roman, the Ottoman, the Chinese, the German, the Japanese, the British and others have exercised dominion over other lands. In fact, the darker side of human nature has frequently seen stronger groups, whether linked by tribe, empire or ideology, subjugate the weaker, often with little or no regard for the impact on individuals.
There has been an alternative thread to human history, however, which has found an exemplar in Queen Elizabeth II. We see this thread emerging through individuals who devote their life to change. For example, in 1780 William Wilberforce became a parliamentarian in the UK who devoted his parliamentary life to ending the slave trade. In 1859, after the Battle of Solferino in Italy, Henry Dunant, a wealthy businessman who came across the wounded soldiers—the commoners—left to die on the battlefield and organised care for them, created an enduring institution that we now know as the Red Cross. Born in 1820, Florence Nightingale saw the needs of the wounded in Crimea, saw the needs of the poor who didn't have competent health care and worked to develop the profession of nursing that would serve the ill, whether poor or rich.
The common thread for these people was their Christian faith, which taught that every individual had intrinsic worth, was deserving of respect and should be free to make choices. In the funeral service of Her Majesty, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, gave us an insight into what motivated and sustained Queen Elizabeth II over the 70 years of her reign. He said:
In 1953, the Queen began her coronation with silent prayer, just there, at the high altar. 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.
Queen Elizabeth understood that, to be truly sovereign, she must embrace human dignity—what we now often call human rights—and to live out her faith not characterised by the power or privilege of her position but by humility and service. Queen Elizabeth had come to know the lasting power of servant leadership that springs from faith in a God who values and cares for each individual.
There has also been a thread though that has gradually changed the power structures in many nations. The Queen recognised the value of the British institutions—we think of the Magna Carta and the concept of habeas corpus, the freedom of the individual from the exercise of arbitrary power—and, ultimately, the institution of parliamentary democracy with the separation of powers that gave people equality before the law and the freedom to have a say in who governs them.
We must recall that Queen Elizabeth was a young adult during the horrors of war and the genocide in Europe, the air attacks on Britain and the threat of invasion by a totalitarian Nazi Germany. She would have listened to Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the House of Commons in August 1940, who said, in part:
There is, however, one direction in which we can see a little more clearly ahead. We have to think not only for ourselves but for the lasting security of the cause and principles for which we are fighting …
And so, in May 1988, when an older Queen came and opened this very Parliament House building, she said:
This is a special occasion for the Parliament, but it is also a very important day for all the people of Australia. After eighty-seven years of Federation, a permanent home has been provided for Parliament, which is both the living expression of that Federation and the embodiment of the democratic principles of freedom, equality and justice. Parliamentary democracy is a compelling ideal, but it is a fragile institution. It cannot be imposed and it is only too easily destroyed. It needs the positive dedication of the people as a whole, and of their elected representatives, to make it work.
Dedication to Australia and all Australians should characterise our work in this place if we are to lead by serving.
Looking also beyond our shores, as totalitarian powers are once again waging war in Europe and crushing democratic freedoms in places such as Myanmar, Iran and Hong Kong, we recall, from Queen Elizabeth's broadcast in April 1947, her call to us:
If we all go forward together with an unwavering faith, a high courage, and a quiet heart, we shall be able to make of this ancient commonwealth, which we all love so dearly, an even grander thing - more free, more prosperous, more happy and a more powerful influence for good in the world - than it has been in the greatest days of our forefathers.
It's a high calling but one so critical in this hour of history.
So, as we remember Queen Elizabeth II and give thanks for her faith and her life of service, Australians—and we, as their representatives—can learn from and honour her through our choices, our attitudes and our actions. We can look back and recognise the freedom to have our differences, to resolve them peacefully through parliamentary democracy and to respect each individual based on their character and inherent worth, our principles rooted in both our Christian heritage and the legacy of British law. We can look forward and recognise that a free and just future depends on our ability to think beyond ourselves and to act to protect and prosper the lasting principles and institutions that enable us to be one and free. We are thankful for the Queen's life of faithful service. She will undoubtedly hear the words, 'Well done, good and faithful servant,' as she arrives home. Long live the King.
I rise to support the condolence motion for the late monarch Queen Elizabeth II commemorating her life, a life dedicated to service—service to family, service to people and service to the Commonwealth.
I start my contribution with acknowledging the National Day of Mourning held yesterday, 21 September, where Australians across our great nation took time to pause, to reflect and to honour the passing of Queen Elizabeth II in their own way. Here in Canberra the national memorial service, held in the Great Hall, saw the coming together of over 600 guests to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II, her life, her service and her reign.
I do not have a personal story to tell about meeting the Queen; I did not have that honour. However, when I was about six years of age I do recall gathering in 1970 with other students from my school—Warrane primary—along the verge of Cambridge Road in Warrane, flags in hand, waiting, as we were told, for a very important person, the Queen, to come past. We were very excited, squealing in delight, as the cavalcade of cars went by. We caught a glimpse of whom we were sure was the Queen, waving furiously, and receiving nods and waves in exchange—a good day out for any six-year-old!
Her Majesty visited Tasmania on numerous occasions. In addition to her seven visits to Hobart, she visited Launceston five times, Wynard and Burnie twice. There were also visits to Devonport, Latrobe, Cressy and the Huon Valley—indeed, the Queen stayed overnight in Cressy in 1954. School children and young people were always a strong focus whenever Her Majesty visited Tasmania. Other activities ranged from school athletics carnivals, learning about our agricultural industries, participating in civic life and activities of the cities and towns of Tasmania and our volunteer community.
During the 1998 visit, the Queen granted and proclaimed city status for Burnie in Tasmania's north-west. Burnie's quest to obtain city status became even more urgent when the town down the road, Devonport, gained city status in 1981 after a proclamation by the then Prince Charles.
Of course, the arrival of Her Majesty's vessel, the Britanniapulled alongside at Princes Wharf in 1963—marked another visit to Tasmania by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, and I imagine caused quite the buzz around Hobart.
Today we pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth's remarkable reign of 70 years of dedicated service to communities throughout the Commonwealth. Her commitment to visiting Commonwealth nations throughout the world has contributed to the Commonwealth nations' unity of purpose and shared vision.
In paying tribute, I also wish to acknowledge and reflect that for a lot of the time that Her Majesty was the head of the Commonwealth she was the lone woman. There were no female prime ministers, female presidents or female governors-general. Hers was a life lived in the public eye, with Commonwealth nations looking to her for strength and leadership in times of conflict, challenge and trouble; a life of service and commitment until the very end, never deviating from war service to civic service, sitting alongside the many obligations and requirements as head of state.
As Prime Minister Albanese said yesterday at the national memorial service:
Monuments to the Queen dot our landscape. The name of Elizabeth lives in nearly every city and town. Perhaps the greatest tribute we can offer her family and her memory is not a marble statue or a metal plaque. It is a renewed embrace of service to community. A truer understanding of our duty to others. A stronger commitment to respect for all. This would be a most fitting memorial, to a magnificent life…
I rise to pay tribute to Her late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and offer my deepest condolences to His Majesty the King and the royal family for the loss of our greatest monarch. Queen Elizabeth was an exemplar of dignity and service. Her dedication to serving God and the Commonwealth is unprecedented, and she served her people with humility and grace.
Since our late sovereign's passing, the profound expression of underlying respect and heartfelt affection for her has been abundant. Her funeral was among the most moving occasions we have ever witnessed. The outpouring of emotion that has swept across Britain, the Commonwealth and, indeed, the world has been truly remarkable—a testament to Queen Elizabeth's long service, and the indelible impression that she had on people's everyday lives, which is one that we reluctantly let go of.
In 1952, upon the death of her father, King George VI, the young and radiant monarch ascended to the Crown, ushering in a great wave of optimism and hope in a bleak post-world-war period. The preceding five decades had seen five different monarchs—indeed, her own reign had not been initially foreseen. The great British statesman Winston Churchill, who was her first Prime Minister, had a unique and deep bond with Her Majesty, admiringly remarking, in the sunset of his political days:
Never have the august duties which fall upon the British monarch been discharged with more devotion.
For most, Queen Elizabeth has been the only monarch in their lifetime. In a rapidly changing social and political world, just like the words of poet William B Yeats, 'When things fall apart, the centre cannot hold,' Elizabeth the faithful cast a resolute shadow over the era of her reign. She was a shining symbol who bestrode and made history. For as long as history is recorded, there will always be the second Elizabethan age.
Throughout her life our late sovereign had a deep and personal faith in God. This solid Christian belief navigated her values for a lifetime. It was a faith manifest in both words and deeds, and aside from her formal role as the Defender of the Faith, her commitment to God sustained and guided her in daily application. Her late Majesty's steadfast faith in God is exemplified in the first message that the Queen delivered at Christmastime when she said:
I want to ask you all, whatever your religion may be, to pray for me on that day—to pray that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve Him and you all the days of my life.
Her unwavering reliance on God and her commitment to serving her people was a promise made when she was 21, a promise kept. Even in her final days Her late Majesty, as monarch, met with her 15th Prime Minister.
While Her late Majesty was an abiding presence over the most transformative period in human history, one of her most endearing qualities was to connect with people from all walks of life, from heads of state to everyday citizens. In 2000 my great-grandmother, Min Crombie, and her sister, Aunty Nell, had the privilege of meeting Her late Majesty. Nanna Crombie lined up in Busselton for several hours to get a glimpse of the Queen passing by, only for Her Majesty to stop and, in noticing my family in the crowd, intentionally make her way over and greet them. My great-grandmother at the time was 87 years of age and, having already lived a full life, she fondly remarked that meeting Her late Majesty was one of the greatest highlights of her entire life.
Queen Elizabeth II's life and reign had an immeasurable impact. We are blessed as a nation to have been served so magnificently. So we give thanks to God for the life and service of our late sovereign. On behalf of all Western Australians, I say to Her late Majesty the Queen: thank you. Thank you for everything. Her passing marks the end of an era, and the reign of our new sovereign, King Charles III, now begins. Long live the King.
The outpouring we have seen in the wake of the death of Queen Elizabeth II is testament to just how remarkable her life was. As monarch, she dedicated her entire life to public service. Being 50 years of age, I have seen 50 years of that service. We have seen the sacrifices she has made to look and think beyond her immediate circumstances and focus firmly on the stewardship of her role as head of state, head of Australia and head of the Commonwealth.
I admired her for her poise and the way she engaged with people, epitomising warmth, wisdom and humour in all her interactions. Queen Elizabeth II was focused and clear about her role as monarch and her role across the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth nations, including Australia. I can't imagine what it must have been like to deal with her own father's unexpected death and become sovereign at just 25 years of age. The strength and resilience that she showed in those 70 years since duly deserve the recognition that Australia has bestowed on her in recent days.
Her passing has left me to reflect on her public service, and my own, and indeed the privilege that this is. None of us were born into British royalty in this place; if we were, we should have to give it up in order to serve. However humble or mighty our backgrounds are as members of this place, we are all enormously privileged to be here. I was most moved by the gracious welcome to country by Ngunnawal elder Aunty Violet Sheridan and the procession of the Wiradjuri Echoes yesterday.
The Queen projected stability and permanency, and indeed she was informed and, rightly, apolitical. Here now in our nation, our young federation, we realise that we have a link not just to the British Crown and King Charles as our sovereign but also an ancient, timeless and permanent cultural and political asset in our First Nations cultures. It was wonderful to see that come together in yesterday's ceremony. The Queen's personal gift was reflected on by Senator Dodson, and that was her ability to transcend that institution, embodying connection and hope for a better future, kindness and resilience in all that she did—many of the same values that we are proud to call Australian. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth showed grace and dignity and brought timelessness to a role which has spanned an ever-changing period of time.
My mother took me as a child to see Queen Elizabeth II during the silver jubilee in 1977. She landed in Perth airport after visiting a number of Western Australian towns. On her many visits to Western Australia over the years, she visited Perth but also Fremantle, Kalgoorlie, Busselton, Albany, Geraldton, Northam, York, West Swan—indeed she saw much more of the nation than most Australians. Upon reflection, I know that my mother enjoyed seeing the Queen as a working mother, much like herself. My sister, who was only two at the time, and I both remember to this day how upset we were when we had to hand over our garden flowers to a lady in waiting. I note that King Charles and Camilla are modernising the Crown, and we may not see ladies in waiting as commonly as we have.
Here in Australia, we look now to the modernisation of our own Federation, with the Uluru Statement from the Heart and, indeed, a new constitutional future. I myself enjoyed the pageantry of the Queen's funeral. Once upon a time, Australians would have identified very strongly as part of the Empire. I'm proud today to know how far we have come, while recognising how much further there still is to travel in terms of bringing our First Nations culture into the heart of our nation and who we are. It is, then, even more remarkable to me that Queen Elizabeth has been such a key part of our national identity and our national journey and born witness to these changes for the last 70 years. With gratitude and fondness, I pay my respects to Queen Elizabeth II for her service to Australia.
I rise to lend my voice to the Senate's sympathy on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. My first experience with Her Majesty the Queen was also in March 1977, when my grade 1 teacher asked our class, all sitting cross-legged in front of her, whether any of us knew who the special visitor coming to Australia this month was. I put my hand up because I knew, and I was joyful with the fact that I knew. Brian Naylor had said it on the news the night before. The teacher called on me and said, 'Yes, Jane. Do you know the answer?' I said, 'Yes. It's ABBA.' It was true, in fact; their tours did coincide. But perhaps as a six-year-old I was not quite as appreciative of the tireless work of the monarch as I am today.
Nonetheless, the next day I enthusiastically took my place along the nature strip of Dandenong Road in the blazing sunshine with thousands of other school children to greet Her Majesty as she drove by. It wasn't until 2011, however, that I was honoured to meet the Queen in person. I was, at that stage, serving on the board of Melbourne's iconic Royal Children's Hospital. As part of what ended up being her final visit to Melbourne, she and Prince Philip joined us in opening the newly redeveloped facilities. They arrived, they toured the wards, they unveiled a plaque. They did all the right things, everything that was expected of them, with smiles and with grace. It's an image that we've seen on television so many times in the last couple of weeks. But, being there that day, I could see that while all of those duties were done with smiles and grace, and while they were led around by very well-briefed and well-practised board members and executives, more than anything both Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip wanted to meet the doctors, the nurses and the patients of the hospital. They met them with an interest that was genuine and heartfelt. It is often difficult to recognise who was more thrilled: the person who was meeting the Queen or the Queen in meeting them. Those who met her on her many visits would tell you of a truly kind person who would take a sincere interest, regardless of the cause—although I do think that perhaps this was particularly true for her patronage of the Australian Racing Museum in Caulfield, just around the corner. The Queen's public service was not in any way or in any sense performative. It was truly authentic. How lucky we were to have a woman of such optimism, resilience and hope to be our Queen, someone who shared in the hopes and aspirations of ourselves and our country.
Not even the most self-confident person in this chamber could commit, however lightly, to a promise of self-sacrifice for 70 years. That's an awful lot of elections and preselections. But the Queen kept that promise, a promise that no politician would ever dare make, and, despite it all, she did it and delivered in spades.
In Australia, under our constitutional monarchy, we have been gifted a head of state who is above personal ambition, above personal politics and above self-interest. But in Queen Elizabeth we were also gifted a head of state that was never above the people. We saw that every time she visited and returned the respect and warmth of those who met her. Through changes to our lives and our society—the good and the bad, governments of both sides, passing trends and revolutions—the Queen stood still. She was a point to which we could look no matter how far we had moved, no matter how greatly we were shaken. We could look to her and see certainty. And she looked to us and had faith and a warm belief in our strength and that of our country. She had the ability to see us, with the understanding of resilience and of the limitless ability of each generation to overcome its own challenges and to endure and to build for the future—certain, but not forever.
In her last visit to Australia the Queen reflected:
We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love ... and then we return home.
In this time, we have been given a new head of state. King Charles III will provide a uniquely Australian perspective as the King of Australia. No other sovereign has the connection to our country or a personal appreciation of its idiosyncrasies.
As some have reflected, his formative time in regional Victoria, particularly at Timbertop in the community of Mansfield, was entirely without ceremony. If my very strict Acting Deputy President Fawcett will allow me a little bit of unparliamentary language, he was described by a classmate as 'no bullshit'. I suspect a person who could see what life would ask of him—that daunting promise of public service—found some freedom in that very simple life for a period of time. His time with us as he became a young man will give him a very deep insight into our national character. His own mother's public service will give him an appreciation of why we have such enormous respect for his role. He will serve us with the same sense of duty. He will be beyond self-interest and beyond politics, but not beyond us.
Like our Queen, King Charles will share in Australia's hopes and aspirations, with an unwavering belief in us and in our country. Long live the King!
Her Majesty was beloved by her subjects throughout the Commonwealth for her deep sense of humanity, her selfless sense of duty and her stable and enduring leadership. She did this in an era of upheaval and turmoil. To a tired world with an ever-growing and crowded chorus of raucous political players, her timeless grace and measured presence allowed her to ascend above the pettiness of politics and become, by the end of her long reign, a paragon, the very essence, of virtue. I have no doubt that forbearance in the face of the many and varied challenges Queen Elizabeth II faced in her long reign was a virtue grounded in her deep and abiding faith. As the head of the Church of England, she adhered to that faith. In the many described interactions the Queen had with people across the globe in her 70 years of leadership, she modelled a servant leadership that echoed the teachings of Jesus Christ, her lord and saviour.
The love the Queen received in her life and death from so many of her subjects, and indeed from those who admired her reign at a further distance, came from a quiet but resolute dignity. The Queen's tirelessness and the way she carried on that life of service through so many national and personal tragedies give us all a standard of public service that challenges us to be like her in that regard. In her personhood, which she so frequently must have subjugated to the Crown, she found joy and comfort in her love of corgis and racehorses. Balmoral, in its wildness and connection to nature in all its majesty, was clearly her place of great comfort and considerable privacy. Much has been made of the Queen's sense of humour—mischievous but also self-deprecating. On her passing, behind all the dutiful and stabilising adherence to tradition and protocol, behind the pomp and splendour, we do well today to remember that in the thousands of reported one-on-one interactions the Queen showed over and over again, across seven decades, that she was an unbelievably strong, resilient, sensitive and charming woman. As a female leader myself, I can only imagine how in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s—and, indeed, in some situations up to this day—she would have so often been the only woman in the room. She modelled, in her Elizabethan reign, the strength of women in leadership.
None of us, not even a queen with faith on her side, lives a perfect life. We're all subject to the historical tides of our times. We rise and fall with them. When we are found wanting, time gives us the opportunity to change, to grow and to become a better version of ourselves every day. The Queen modelled that capacity to change and meet the very different circumstances of her reign and the politics of the time. Her modelling of that insightful reflective skill and her capacity to see and to adapt to meet with these times is instructive. Embodying this skill and insight will be important for our new monarch, King Charles III, as he encounters the political winds of change across the Commonwealth, including changes of sentiment about the future of the constitutional monarchy here in Australia and political challenges in other jurisdictions.
As a senator for the great state of New South Wales, I want to pass on my deepest condolences to Her Majesty's family as they cope with their loss. As much as Her Majesty was a model of dignity and grace in her leadership of the Commonwealth, I can only imagine how supportive, loving and kind she was to her own family and how deep and abiding their grief must be. I send my prayers to the royal family as they hold their loved ones tight in this sad period of mourning.
King Charles farewelled his mother with a line from Shakespeare's Hamlet, 'May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest,' referencing her faith and his hopes for her eternal reward. May I close with the words that have been said to have been a mainstay for Queen Elizabeth II from the hymn known as 'Crimond' based on psalm 23 from the Book of Psalms in the Holy Bible.
Goodness and mercy all my life shall surely follow me: And in God's house for evermore my dwelling-place shall be.
May Queen Elizabeth enjoy eternal rest in the arms of the Lord to whom she was servant all the days of her life.
Today I join senators in offering my deep condolences to the royal family following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. When I stood to make my first speech in this chamber I highlighted the dedicated work of the several women who had represented Tasmania in Canberra before me. Now I stand to speak about a woman who has not only served Tasmania but our entire nation and that of the Commonwealth. Our Queen, the Queen of Australia, served with dignity, empathy and wisdom for 70 years and I wish to pay tribute to her life of service.
Like us all here today, Queen Elizabeth has been the only monarch I have known. From the coins I carry in my purse, our $5 notes, the English breakfast tea that I enjoy, to the portrait hanging beside the national flag in my electorate office, I'm reminded of Her Majesty's presence every day. The Queen has been with us through wars, the pandemic, multiple Commonwealth Games and the opening of many significant buildings, including the one in which we are right now. Her reign spanned 16 Australian prime ministers and the same number of Governor-Generals, and during this time she visited every Australian state and territory.
I was seven years old when Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Launceston in 1970. This brush with royalty when I was a young child was brief, but the experience left an indelible mark on my memory. I found myself thinking about this experience over the past fortnight. It was a big event for my home town and an even bigger event for my family. After joining the Queen for a civic luncheon at Launceston's town hall, my parents returned home and hurriedly packed my siblings and I into our car. My father drove us along the western side of the Tamar River so that we could find the perfect position to capture a glimpse of the royals en route to their royal yacht. We waved excitedly as the Queen drove past us on her way along the river from Launceston to Inspection Head at Beauty Point, where the Britannia was berthed during the royals' Northern Tasmania visit.
During her 1970 visit to Tasmania the Queen also enjoyed the bicentennial celebrations marking Captain James Cook's voyage to Australia, and she unveiled a memorial plaque in Macquarie Street in Hobart on that occasion. This royal visit also included a visit to a Longley apple orchard so the Queen could see the state's primary crop firsthand as well as ceremonial duties at the Royal Hobart Hospital and a visit to Launceston's racecourse for a horseracing meet. We all know how much she loved an equine fix, and Tasmanians were only too happy to oblige our Queen.
While the 1970 royal visit was exciting for me, the Queen's first visit to Tasmania after becoming queen left a permanent legacy for Northern Midlands farming family the O'Connors. When Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited my home state in 1954, the party stayed with the O'Connors on their sheep property, Connorville, at Cressy, in the federal electorate of Lyons. The royal couple and their staff were hosted by May O'Connor and her son Rod. In recent days, current owner Roderic O'Connor was interviewed about this historic visit, and he readily recalled some family stories. Such a momentous visit meant Roderic's grandmother and father had to extend Connorville to accommodate the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, their staff and their equipment. Roads that were fit for a visit from the Queen were also built on the property and around Cressy. While visiting Connorville, the Queen planted a golden elm with May O'Connor, and this historic tree still has pride of place on the property today. A plaque was also erected at Connorville to commemorate the event.
Besides the tours I've mentioned already, the Queen visited Tasmania six other times: in 1963, in 1977 for her Silver Jubilee tour, and again in 1981, 1988, 2000 and 2004, which was her last visit to Tasmania's shores. During several of these royal tours, Queen Elizabeth II planted trees at Tasmania's Government House to mark her visits, including an oak, a blue gum, a silver birch and a Huon pine. Earlier this year, members of the Royal Commonwealth Society planted a dawn redwood on the grounds of Government House to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. Each of these trees, along with the golden elm the Queen planted with May O'Connor at Connorville, form a living memorial to our longest-reigning monarch. They are fitting symbols of her enduring vitality and constancy.
Queen Elizabeth II will be missed by many throughout Australia and the Commonwealth. I thank Her Majesty for a lifetime of service and I acknowledge King Charles III on his accession to the throne. Long live the King.
Madam Acting Deputy President, while I am on my feet, I seek leave to incorporate two additional speeches from Senator Molan and Senator Brockman.
KMAN () (): The incorporated speech read as follows
Her Majesty's lifetime of service to Australia, the Commonwealth, and the United Kingdom stands as an example to us all.
As many have noted, few have known a world absent of Queen Elizabeth. She was a beacon of stability throughout periods of upheaval and uncertainty, and a steadfast leader whose presence brought comfort to so many.
While our world will be forever changed without her, her passing reminds us of the values and, importantly, the conduct that defines enduring leaders, decent people, and good societies.
Service, strength of will, and sacrifice are the values that Queen Elizabeth pledged to uphold on her 21st birthday—and the values that she maintained for over 70 years of her reign.
"Those who served will be loved and remembered when those w ho cling to power and privileges are long forgotten."
May we all, in this place, strive to follow her example of conscientious service,
As Australians, we can be comforted by the affection Queen Elizabeth held for our nation, being the first reigning British monarch to set foot on Australian soil.
Throughout her 16 visits, she viewed Australia from land to sea, and engaged with Australians from all walks of life.
On her first royal tour in I 954, Queen Elizabeth visited over 70 country towns- a fitting tribute from a woman with a deep-rooted and lifelong affection for the countryside.
This week, people from all nations of the world joined the Royal Family in bidding Her Majesty a final farewell as she was laid to rest.
Thank you and rest well, Your Majesty.
The incorporated speech read as follows
For 70 years, she reigned as Australia's Head of State, and for other nations of the Commonwealth spread across the world's continents and oceans.
She was a monarch who ruled with an empathetic heart and wisdom. And though the world changed around her, she remained steadfast in her devotion to God, her country, and to the Commonwealth.
As the Leader of the Opposition, Peter Dutton, said, she embodied humanity's very best virtues and values; service and sacrifice, fortitude and humility, grace and generosity, forgiveness and empathy.
In my lifetime, I swore two oaths to serve Her Majesty.
The first, as a teenage officer cadet entering the Australian Defence Force, where I swore to resist Her enemies, and faithfully discharge my duties according to law.
Later in life, I again committed to be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty, this time as a member of Her Australian Parliament.
Throughout, for an exemplar of steadfast duty, courage, dignity and selflessness, I have needed to look no further than Her Majesty.
From the young age of 21, the then-Princess dedicated her life to the service of the Commonwealth, declaring that her "whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong".
And just a few years later, upon her coronation in 1952, the Queen reaffirmed her unwavering dedication to the Commonwealth, when she said, "l have in sincerity pledged myself to your service, as so many of you are pledged to mine. Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust."
Not only did our Queen earn our trust, she also won our admiration.
It was no secret she had a deep and abiding affection for Australia, visiting our country 16 times during her reign, and even sending her eldest son to school here.
You could say she saw more of this country than most Australians.
Wherever she went, crowds choked the streets, cheering, clapping, waving their flags to express their adoration.
And many Australians, young or old, will have their own story about Her Majesty.
Yet for those that never had the privilege of meeting the Queen, she was still familiar to us all.
And that is a real testament to the way in which she was able to connect even with the current generation; and her ability to transform herself during her reign and make the monarch relevant to each new generation.
Her passing is the end of an era and carries special poignancy for those who served in uniform under the Sovereign's colours.
She represented the greatest values of our country and Commonwealth, and all that we sought to defend.
I join with all Australians in giving thanks for a life well lived and a duty extraordinarily well done.
It has been my life's honour to serve our greatest modern Monarch.
May our memories of our dear Queen continue to inspire the very best in us. And may she rest in peace.
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.
Today I rise to add my remarks to reflect, to give thanks for a life of service, and to extend my condolences to the family of Queen Elizabeth II and all those who mourn her. Her Majesty, as has been well documented, has been a constant figure in the lives of over 90 per cent of the world's population, with particular pertinence to the nations of the Commonwealth. Her passing has given us all pause to reflect on the events of the period of her reign—the Elizabethan era—her influence on those events and our own personal interactions with her, as significant or as insignificant as they may be.
My first interaction was to be one of those less significant. I was to be part of a display of children at the North Hobart Oval in 1970. Unfortunately, it rained. The event was called off and others got to wave their flags at her as she continued her tour around Hobart. Any close contact with Her Majesty was delayed for another 36 years, when I had the opportunity to be part of a state dinner here in this place, to meet Her Majesty and to be part of a photograph that was taken in the marble foyer with then Prime Minister John Howard and his ministry—a moment to reflect on and to savour.
Tasmania hosted Her Majesty on seven occasions: in 1954, 1963, 1970, 1971, 1981, 1988 and 2000. And, as has been reflected upon by some of my Tasmanian colleagues, she declared Burnie, on the north-west coast, a city during her visit in 1988. As was noted, Burnie was very keen for that to occur, with Devonport, its rival city on the north-west coast of Tasmania, having been declared a city by the now King Charles III in 1981. It is also worth noting that during her stay in Midlands at the Midlands grazing property Connorville during her 1954 visit, which was mentioned by Senator Askew a short time ago, a special room was built to house the cabling back to Buckingham Palace and to house the wireless operators. Her Majesty was connected well before it became such an indispensable part of all of our lives.
It is interesting to reflect on how some see her place as one of hierarchy, yet she saw her place as one of service. Her enrolment in the defence force during World War II is a clear reflection of that. Perhaps that's why she is so widely respected and why we have seen the most extraordinary public display of mourning over the past two weeks—the likes of which we are unlikely to see again. Those two weeks show us, as will, I am sure, the weeks and months to come, how Her Majesty, even after her passing, was demonstrating her pledge to duty. Knowing her intimate involvement in the planning of her funeral, we see the clear demonstration of her understanding of the importance of traditions and ceremony in our lives and all our cultures—in how we tell our stories and in how we celebrate and sustain our cultures, regardless of where they derive from. Her Majesty understood that, and it was on display right up until the moment her casket descended into the crypt of St George's Chapel. She gave even past the end.
While some might reflect on what they perceive she took, it is clear that, on the balance of all things, she gave so much more. Her Majesty said in 1974:
Perhaps we make too much of what is wrong and too little of what is right. The trouble with gloom is that it feeds upon itself and depression causes more depression.
It is a pertinent quote, I think, in our current times.
Her Majesty clearly understood the frailty of both peace and democracy. Although it may have slipped under the radar a little, the day after her death was in fact the International Day of Democracy—further pause for reflection on the contribution that Queen Elizabeth and the monarchy have made to democracy and to our system of government, the Westminster system, which, despite its flaws, is clearly the best there is and gives us all of the freedoms that we enjoy in this great country today. The lessons of the last two weeks should not be forgotten as we contemplate the future of our democracy, including the seamless transition to King Charles III, who, during the 10 days of those events, took on that mantle of service which saw him and his family mourning in the full public eye.
I had the opportunity to attend a gathering of young Tasmanians during his tour of Tasmania in the 1970s. It was a reception for young Tasmanians with the opportunity to meet then Prince of Wales. Despite my steely blue eyes, snappy three-piece suit and luxuriant mullet, the good burghers of Hobart decided that there was a much more attractive person in the room who should meet the then single Prince Charles, so the crowd was duly parted to give effect to that meeting, and not for me.
To King Charles and his family, and all those who hold Her Majesty so dear, I offer my sincerest condolences. To Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II: thank you, Ma'am, for your service. May you rest in peace.
I shall be as brief as the Queen's reign was long. On behalf of my state, Queensland, and my fellow Queenslanders, I express our condolences to the family of our late Queen. While Australia has lost our head of state, a family has lost their mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Our gratitude masks their sorrow. We give thanks for a life of service, a life of helping, a life of leading by example. As the nations of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth mourn a much-loved monarch, we have seen the best of people—indeed, the best of life. We have seen long, meandering queues, queues as peaceful as they were good-humoured; glorious pageantry; and a living history as traditional as it was moving. The Queen appointed fifteen prime ministers, from Winston Churchill to Liz Truss. Her reign began in 1952, when the great offices of state were all held by white men, including then Prime Minister Winston Churchill, a Conservative. It ended in 2022, when none of the great offices of state are held by a white male, with now Prime Minister Liz Truss, also a Conservative. The Queen reigned from the dour deprivations of postwar Britain to the exuberance of Cool Britannia, a gentle hand that guided the end of an empire to the birth of the Commonwealth. The calmness of serving God, country and Commonwealth; service in life and hope in death; leaving the world a better place—you can't argue with that. The Queen is dead, long live the King.
It is with great sadness that I join my fellow senators in mourning the death of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. On behalf of all South Australians, I thank the Queen for her service to the Crown and for her extraordinary dedication to our nation.
Our late Queen was an example to us all. I honour her life of service. Her reign will serve as a constant reminder to all of us in this place of what it means to serve our communities above self. As we reflect on her life, we should follow her lead and aspire to engage with each other on the issues of the day in a more respectful manner. As a volunteer for St John Ambulance and president of its operations branch in South Australia, I know that every member of St John is greatly saddened by the loss of their sovereign head. The Order of St John is one of the world's longest-established charities and traces its origins back over 900 years. As a commander in the order, I know firsthand the keen interest our late sovereign took in the work of The Order of St John in providing care to those in need. As an Army officer, I have sought to serve her, at home and in the shadow of our enemies in Afghanistan, to the best of my abilities.
The Queen held a deep Christian faith. She was the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, whose faith I practise, and she lived out that faith every day of her life. The life of Jesus Christ was an inspiration and an anchor for our late Queen. It taught her to respect and value all people, whatever their faith. She sought a society where liberty and tolerance were paramount. Like so many others, I drew inspiration from the way she lived her life and her unwavering devotion to her duties, never faltering in her trust in God.
My thoughts and prayers are with our King and the royal family. I extend to them my deepest sympathies for their great loss. Our new King takes up a heavy burden, but I'm in no doubt he will sustain it. On behalf of the people of South Australia, I wish His Majesty a long and happy reign.
As the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said at Queen Elizabeth's funeral: 'Christian hope means certain expectation of something not yet seen.' We can all share the Queen's hope, which inspired her servant leadership: service in life, hope in death. All who follow the Queen's example and inspiration of trust and faith in God can, with her, say, 'We will meet again', the last words drawn from the classic Vera Lynn song. And meet again they shall. The original fab four, if you will—the Queen's father, George VI; her mother, the Queen Mother; and sister, Princess Margaret—a family united by an unexpected abdication, have been reunited, along with a husband and partner who has waited 17 months to be joined by his wife. The Duke of Edinburgh has now been joined by his wife of 74 years in the King George VI Memorial Chapel.
On Monday this week we saw world leaders gather from every political and economic persuasion, from those who fervently believe in the monarchy to those who advocate for its abolition; they all took their seats to pay their respects to this remarkable leader, remarkable sovereign and remarkable woman. Even before becoming Queen during World War II, she and her sister, Princess Margaret, were broadcast on the BBC's Children's Hour to offer words of encouragement to children separated from their families during the war, just as they had been. Princess Elizabeth became the first woman in the royal family to become an active member of the British Armed Forces driving and servicing lorries.
Becoming Queen at just 25, Her Majesty undertook 16 royal tours of Australia. Queen Elizabeth travelled far and wide, visiting 117 different countries throughout her reign, including every Commonwealth country as well as many more, carrying out 290 state visits since her ascension to the throne in 1952. Not only did Queen Elizabeth live a rich life serving our country and the Commonwealth; she was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. All will miss her dearly; we all will. Her son, now King Charles III, spent what he calls the happiest year of his education at Timbertop in Geelong. So I guess we know who he's likely to be supporting in tomorrow's AFL grand final. I especially look forward to the new Prince and Princess of Wales visiting Australia in the near future, and I personally also hope that they do bring Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis with them.
At times in all families there are ups and downs and challenges. Yet, regardless of those moments—some of those we've now learned greatly upset the Queen in her last few months—she always maintained grace, dignity and, above all else, a sense of humour. We, of course, cannot forget Her Majesty jumping from a helicopter with James Bond for the Olympics or pulling a marmalade sandwich from her handbag whilst having tea with Paddington Bear for her Platinum Jubilee, which was my favourite, until I heard the story from Richard Griffiths, one of her security guards. When the two of them were out walking near Balmoral, they came across two Americans on a walking holiday. As the Queen wanted, they started up a conversation. However, these Americans did not recognise the Queen. And as they started chatting, the Americans asked the Queen if she was local, to which she replied: 'No, I live in London, but I have a holiday home here. I've been coming to the holiday home since I was a little girl, well over 80 years.' In awe of this, the American said, 'Wow, if you've been coming here this long, you must have met the Queen.' To this, the Queen, quick as a whip, replied, 'No, but the Queen regularly briefs Dick here.' And turning to Richard, they asked him, 'What's the Queen like?' Understanding her humour well, he responded, 'Well, she can be quite cantankerous, but she has a wonderful sense of humour.' As quick as could be imagined, the Queen had the Americans' camera in her hands, and they had their arms around Richard to have a photo taken. They did manage to get a photo taken with the Queen; however, they were still unaware of who they'd had their photo taken with. As they said their farewells and walked away, the Queen turned to Richard and remarked, 'I would so like to be there when they show their friends these photos, and I do hope someone finally recognises me and points out who I am.' There is so much more to remember, if not, at least, all of her hats and handbags. She truly was the master of block outfits and not afraid of colour. But ultimately it cannot be said better than, in the words of Paddington Bear, 'Thank you, Ma'am, for everything.' Long live the King.
Until, two weeks ago, waking up to the sad news of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, she was the only monarch I had ever known and lived under. Coming from the Hunter, an area largely occupied by descendants of British citizens who came there to mine and who are generally socially conservative, it was felt—almost hoped—she would reign forever. Indeed, amongst the hundred-strong Welsh community, which includes my wife, a sense of pride exists at Her Majesty's choice of pet, with corgis coming from Wales and, indeed, the name originating from the Welsh words 'cor' and 'ci', meaning 'dwarf' and a 'dog'. Her Majesty was a constant, a stable point in the world of turbulence, whose actions, or indeed sometimes planned lack of them, gave an example of what the definition of servant leadership should be.
There are many stories of her time and service being given in this place today, and so I thought I'd use my time to talk about her involvement in my region, my home, and some small stories. Her Majesty visited the Hunter four times during her reign, starting with stepping off the train with the Duke of Edinburgh at Newcastle Railway Station in February 1954, with an estimated 300,000 people from around the region seeing her on that trip—which is amazing, as the Hunter had a population of only 147,000. The trip included my mother and father taking part with 44,000 schoolchildren taken to the showgrounds to see her. Indeed, my father told me this morning that he picked some grass that the royal Land Rover had driven across as a keepsake.
She came back in 1970, 1977 and, finally, 1988, as part of the bicentennial tour. In those visits she encapsulated so much now that is important to the Hunter. She opened the first stage of the Newcastle International Sports Centre, now known as McDonald Jones Stadium, home to the Newcastle Jets and Newcastle Knights. She visited the now lost industries of the BHP steel plant and the State Dockyard, and she had the royal motor yacht Britannia moored in our port of Newcastle. She opened the Newcastle region art gallery, the regional museum and, more importantly, some might say, the Queens Wharf development, now home to the Queens Wharf brewery, the starting place of, for many, a night out.
But it is the visits she never made to the area that show the care she had for my home region in the Hunter. A former lord mayor of Newcastle, Mr John McNaughton, often catches up with his neighbour Adrian Rich, who works in my office. He has told him over the back fence many proud stories of his two royal interactions. Mr McNaughton famously made the papers recently for his story about tearing his pants open on the bumper of his mayoral car whilst entertaining the Queen in 1988, but the story of his second interaction has been kept quiet.
After the 1989 earthquake, the Queen sent her son Prince Edward to look at the damage and the opportunity for reconstruction in the town. He visited the town and the hospital, and spoke to survivors and relatives of those lost. It was appreciated at the time as a show of support, and he was to return home with a briefing for Her Majesty. Two years later, at the opening of New South Wales's 50th parliament by Her Majesty, she saw the Newcastle mayor across the room, and she made her way to him through the crowds, singling him out, greeting him warmly and then discussing the damage and the reconstruction of Newcastle in astonishing detail. This shows that her actions at the time were not for show; they were for real. Her care for her subjects in the Hunter was such that, two years after the incident, her knowledge and understanding were still fresh. Just as she meant something to us, we meant something to her.
To Her Majesty: thank you for your service. To her family: my feelings are with you, and thank you for sharing your mum, your grandmother, your great-grandmother with the people of the Hunter and the people of Australia. May she rest now in peace with the knowledge that she leaves this earth a better place for having been our Queen. Long live the King.
On behalf of Territorians, I rise to pay my respects to a remarkable elder, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and offer my condolences to the royal family. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II touched the lives of so many wherever she went. Many respected and admired her as they would a mother or a grandmother. I held great admiration for her as a woman who at just 25 loyally bestowed upon the Commonwealth her life in service. I can only imagine but never truly comprehend such immeasurable responsibility at such a young age.
Growing up in Australia, it has always been my experience and deeply held belief that we are a lucky nation. We have the freedom to become who we want to become because the opportunities exist for us to make this happen. I have witnessed at many citizenship ceremonies the gratitude and love for our nation from our newest citizens. They made Australia their home, the place to raise their families and the land to make their dreams become reality. The way they feel about our great land is the same way I feel.
We would not be the nation we are today if it were not for the support, devotedness and guidance of the monarchy during Queen Elizabeth's reign. The Westminster system bequeathed to us has served Australia well. While we are still young nation, having first been federated in 1901 but acquainted with British settlers in 1788, we have been building together for 250 years. Yes, like every nation around the globe, our history features dark and shameful incidents. We must never shy away from acknowledging these, as they are part of our identity. Equally, we must also recognise the good our nation has experienced and grown from. There is much to celebrate from our worthy efforts to strive to better the lives of all Australians. History cannot be undone, and the inevitable inquiring explorations of mankind have meant all corners of the earth have been settled. This landmass we call home was never going to be left untouched by anyone other than our First Peoples. We can be grateful that it was in fact the British who settled here before the many other possible colonists.
Queen Elizabeth II held the highest position of head of state. There is no higher. She inherited the responsibility of our nation. She was not born to take the throne, yet became the Commonwealth's longest serving monarch. As we know, she served us with grace, fairness and thoughtfulness. During her reign, the Queen had a longstanding connection to the Northern Territory and central Australia, which she referred to as the living heart of the nation. This connection was strengthened by her relationship with our renowned Western Arrernte landscape artist Albert Namatjira. It was during her coronation tour of 1954 that Her Majesty first met Namatjira when he travelled to Canberra to greet and present her with his artwork. Just the year before, he had been awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal in honour of his remarkable art. Queen Elizabeth had become a Namatjira enthusiast and, since first being presented with his artwork, built a collection now belonging to the royal family. It has been said that it was this special relationship between Albert and Queen Elizabeth that not only led to his granting of citizenship but paved the way for citizenship to eventually be granted to all Aboriginal Australians. Namatjira was a man before his time as Queen Elizabeth was a woman before hers. To me, they represented an endearing example of the coming together of two very different worlds—a moment in our nation's history to hold on to.
Though, sadly, Australia lost a venerated national icon before his time, Namatjira's connection with the Queen and the royal family continued through his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In 2013, 60 years after Albert and the Queen's first meeting, his grandchildren, Lenie and Kevin Namatjira, were delighted to have a private audience with Her Majesty. At the time, Lenie said: 'I'm happy to see Her Majesty the Queen. I've come a long way, all the way from Australia, to meet her and represent my family and our community.' In Kevin Namatjira's words: 'I'm a little bit nervous, but I am proud. I'm going to give Her Majesty a painting, like my grandfather did.'
More recently, the Queen has been depicted by Albert's great-grandson and Archibald Prize winner Vincent Namatjira many times. He was shocked to learn of her passing. When asked if he would continue painting Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, his response was: 'I might retire from painting the Queen. Let her rest in peace, the poor thing. But I will definitely be busy painting King Charles.'
Thank you to our Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. As Vincent said, may you rest in peace. Long live the King.
ator CHANDLER () (): I rise to pay tribute to a truly remarkable woman: a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother; the head of the Church of England; a monarch and the head of state of 16 nations; for most Australians the only head of state we have ever known—Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, Queen of Australia.
We have been blessed to have had a Queen and head of state who carried out her duty for 70 years with the stoicism and good nature that endeared her to so many. The affection and respect in which Her Majesty was held by so many Australians has been evident in the days since her death. I know I speak on behalf of many Australians when I extend my deepest condolences to His Majesty King Charles III, the Queen Consort, the Prince and Princess of Wales and the extended royal family at what must be an incredibly sad and tumultuous time as they adapt to a life without their great matriarch.
I myself never had the fortune of meeting Her Majesty during her last visit to Tasmania; I was still in primary school. But in the past weeks I've spent some time paging through the history books looking over photos and footage of the Queen's visits to Tasmania—including her first visit in 1954, just a year after her coronation. There is no mistaking the excitement of the crowd in their cheers and waves. You cannot help but smile to yourself when you see the expressions on the faces of the children who were fortunate to meet the Queen, nor can you miss the genuine pleasure on Her Majesty's face at receiving such a warm welcome.
Across seven separate visits to Tasmania during her reign, the Queen saw much of our state and met many thousands of our people. She attended school athletics carnivals, opened hospital wards and museums, and even visited apple orchards in the Huon Valley, where I grew up—accompanied invariably by the Duke of Edinburgh, her husband of 74 years, her strength and stay.
In 1954, on her first visit, she attended memorial services for Tasmania's war dead, laying a wreath with the Duke of Edinburgh at the Hobart Cenotaph and planting a tree on the Queens Domain. Watching footage of this event, the importance of this tribute from the Queen for a population which lived through the horrors of World War II was striking. As the commentary on the newsreel footage from 1954 said, 'For the men and women who have spent a large portion of their lives on the fronts of war, the presence of Her Majesty was a splendid occasion.' We cannot underestimate the significance of the Queen, the first female royal to join the armed services as a full-time active member, honouring their courage and their sacrifice and paying her respects to the fallen.
Australia's admiration for the Queen has spanned across generations. Under her reign, decades passed, the 20th century finished and a new millennium began. As the length of her reign grew, so too did our respect for a woman who devoted her life to a duty which was incessant and all consuming but which she nevertheless carried out without complaint for just over seven decades.
Since her passing was announced in Australia early on the morning of Friday 9 September our time, like so many in our community, I have reflected on Her Majesty's unparalleled life of service and what it meant that she was our Queen, my Queen. She was only 25 years old when she ascended the throne. She had been married less than five years and had a young family. Her father, King George IV, was only 56 when he died, leaving her the throne much earlier than anyone could have anticipated. While the then Princess Elizabeth had undoubtedly come to terms with the duty she would one day undertake as monarch, it is hard to imagine that she had no regard for the sacrifice that she was making in having to take on the role at such a young age, both for herself and for her family.
We ought to remember that this was 1952, when working mothers were nowhere near as commonplace as they are now. Yet, in the new Queen, the world had an admirable example of a woman devoted not just to her family but also to her role as sovereign, because duty demanded it of her, and she did so without complaining; she just got on with the job. This is not only an example of almost unparalleled commitment for which we should all be grateful as an act of service to our nation in the Commonwealth but also an example of selfless dedication to which all of us in public life should aspire.
Throughout her 70 years as monarch, Her Majesty rarely had a day off, was fiercely devoted to her many patronages and charities and never lost sight of the fact that her relationship with her people was not that of their commander but rather that of their servant.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be sadly missed by millions of Australians but so too will she be remembered for her wisdom, grace and compassion and for her tireless service to our Commonwealth and to the people of our great nation. Vale Regina. Long live the King.
I rise to make a contribution in this condolence motion. It's hard to imagine that we would be paying tribute to such an extensive public service. We are, as representatives and servants of the people, in the business of public service. It is, as I say, very difficult to imagine anyone else providing that level of high-quality service over such an extended period of time. It is in my view a symbol of democracy and liberal democracy that the Queen exhibited that is the most important reflection. There are many different forms of government that could have been put in place on this continent and in the territories of Australia. I think we are very fortunate to have been able to be the beneficiaries of the British system. Of course it is important to separate the personal from the institution.
There are many people we represent here in this place who are feeling a personal sense of loss because of the death of the monarch, and I understand that. I understand how people feel that way because this is the person who has been selfless. It was never about her; it was always about the service that she was rendering not only to the people she was close to but also the people who lived well beyond her own shores.
As I say, the institution she represented has shown such extraordinary continuity. It is a system which has been the bedrock of our success here in Australia over these past couple of hundred years. I know that many other people want to raise issues at this point in time. This is a condolence motion, and I think people should reflect very carefully on the purpose of this motion. Having said that, there are issues that do need to be discussed at a later stage. But I would say that people would do well to consider carefully that the issues that often cause the most rancour here are issues that have been most heavily impacted or influenced by Australians. We are a sovereign nation. We are a nation which has been in control of its own destiny for many, many years and decades. If people want to talk about policy issues then they ought to raise those issues in connection with the Australians who have put in place those policies.
So, in keeping with this condolence motion, I think it is appropriate that we have paused today to reflect upon a great service by a remarkable person. I know that the people who have sent us here to this place are very grateful not only for the service rendered by this individual but also for the system of government that we enjoy in this remarkable country.
I rise to offer my condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. For 70 years, she has reigned as our head of state, the longest-serving monarch in British history. Globally, she is being remembered not only for her dedication to duty and service but also for change. She championed change, not just for the sake of change but to make the world a better place. Becoming Queen at 25, she stood as a proud symbol of stability in her long reign. She witnessed world wars and provided a source of strength and stability as governments came and went. Queen Elizabeth truly served as a monarch that guided the world to become a better place.
A crucial aspect that has been overlooked is how the Queen presided over one of the greatest periods of decolonisation the globe has ever seen. Despite many in this chamber looking to wash over this history, it was under the Queen's reign that decolonisation was accelerated, which is something that we should all celebrate.
What was most impressive about her reign was her dedication to duty and service, providing an example to all of us that serve of what a life of service means. This commitment extended to before her reign as Queen, when she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service, the women's branch of the British Army in 1945, learning to become a car mechanic and becoming the first woman in the royal family to join the armed services as an active member.
I believe that the Queen recognised and loved Australia for what it is—a harsh land on the other side of the world whose secret ingredient to success is its people. At the opening of the New South Wales parliament in 1992, the Queen stated:
The problems in this country ... have been compounded by severe drought, and, more recently, by flooding. The qualities of the Australian people and the resources of the Australian continent, however, continue to hold abundant promise even in the face of such economic and climatic adversity.
It is notable that the Queen said this, reflecting Dorothea Mackellar's words earlier in the century, and that we are now facing similar environmental conditions, which some are now looking to exploit for their own political agenda. However, I think it is her words to this Parliament House in 2011 that strike the truest chord and highlight her true understanding of Australia as a nation:
Ever since I first came here in 1954, I have watched Australia grow and develop at an extraordinary rate. This country has made dramatic progress economically, in social, scientific and industrial endeavours and, above all, in self-confidence.
As leaders, we must recognise these words for what they are—an assessment of where we have come from and a hope of where we will go.
Australia and Australians have so much potential and have demonstrated the ability to be global leaders. The Queen recognised this back when she first visited in 1954, and it is up to us as parliamentarians to ensure that we live up to this expectation and that Australia lives up to the Queen's hopes and aspirations for us. Vale Your Royal Majesty, and long live the King.
Queen Elizabeth II was the embodiment of dignity and poise. She was undoubtably the greatest statesman of a generation. The Queen was able to project her leadership, not through the overuse of emotions or self-righteous preaching but by grace, humility and a genuine empathy for the lives of everyday people. There seemed to be few people, if anyone, who, upon meeting the Queen, were not impressed by her—and so they should be, for the demeanour of the Queen harks back to an era, especially during the Second World War, to a time when people would persevere with stoic resolve in the face of hardship and misfortune.
The Queen's life of service, like our forefathers, demonstrated the value of hard work, the importance of self-discipline and the self-confidence and reward that can come from perseverance. In a world of overexposed celebrities and social media trolls, the Queen's capacity for restraint in regard to commentary offers a masterclass to all of us as to how we can influence others in a respectful and positive manner. While it is easy to scorn the pomp and ceremony, it sends a message that Western liberal democracies should take seriously: traditions, and the precision and discipline that come with them, are a reminder of the sacrifices made by our forefathers for which we should always be grateful.
In the debate about whether Australia should become a republic, it is often overlooked that in a true democracy power comes from the people and not from the head of state. Queen Elizabeth II understood the importance of elected representation very well. Indeed, she encapsulated the true meaning of democracy—and her feelings for Australia—in her speech at the opening of Parliament House in 1988, when she said:
Parliamentary democracy is a compelling ideal, but it is a fragile institution. It cannot be imposed and it is only too easily destroyed. It needs the positive dedication of the people as a whole, and of their elected representatives, to make it work. The earliest free settlers brought their ideals of a democratic society with them, and succeeding generations of Australians have inherited those principles and put them to work in what we know as the parliamentary system. Commitment to parliamentary democracy lies at the heart of this nation's maturity, tolerance and humanity. This is surely one of the characteristics that has attracted so many people to come to Australia from countries which do not enjoy the benefits of the parliamentary system in such large measure.
Ultimately, sovereignty isn't about who our head of state is, but whether Australia as a country can defend itself, feed itself and provide its people with gainful employment. If there is to be a debate about our government in this country, it needs to focus on the dysfunctional relationship between our state and federal governments. Australia is not served well by our current federation, where the ambiguous responsibilities between those governments are damaging the welfare of the Australian people. Australia does not need to entertain a symbolic debate about the ceremonial head of state while our health system and many other essential services are falling apart. There are much more important issues that governments should be dealing with.
The Queen's passing also reminds us that we have much to be thankful for when it comes to our British heritage. Despite its imperfections, British institutions, ideas and literature have been a hugely positive contributor to human welfare. Australia undoubtably owes its early success to the systems introduced by the British. All races have been colonised or have done the colonising. The British empire, like any empire, doesn't have a monopoly on wrongdoings and nor should its descendants carry any guilt about those wrongdoings. Let us not forget that Britain passed the Slavery Abolition Act, the first of any parliament in the world, that abolished slavery in their colonies.
The Queen was the last of her generation, a leader who, throughout her reign, touched the lives of so many people across the global community of nations. She will be remembered for her humility, dignity and composure. She set a standard of leadership by which the world's national leaders measure themselves, a standard that will stand for centuries to come. May she rest in peace.
Senators, we have witnessed a remarkable reign historic in its length, notable for its grace and nobility. Fifteen days ago, we were met with the saddest of news, of the passing of our late monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. It's been a time of conflicting emotions: profound grief for our loss but an equal measure of gratitude for her love and service, given until the very end of her life. Her presence gifted us with familiarity and unity in good times and bad. Our Queen believed in our community and common decency, which mirrored her own. Above all else, she embodied devotion to service above self. It was the living fulfilment of a promise made to the Commonwealth in 1947 and mentioned many times today. At a service to celebrate the Queen's life in Perth's St George's Cathedral this week, it was highlighted that the promise concluded with the prayerful commitment, 'God help me to make good my vow.' There is no doubt that is exactly what happened.
Queen Elizabeth II was not a queen above us but a queen among us. From the moment she set foot on Australian soil in February 1954, a lifelong bond was formed. In his opening to these condolences, Senator Farrell noted that Her Majesty liked and trusted us. We liked and trusted her too. Her death has been greatly felt in my home state of Western Australia. The Queen visited Australia 16 times during her 70 years on the throne, and eight of those visits included Western Australia. The late Queen's visit coincided with a polio outbreak in Perth. Like the recent pandemic, it required enforced social distancing. Events were cancelled or held outdoors, and the shaking of hands was forbidden. But the Queen came, and Western Australians loved her for it. She visited Western Australia again in 1963, 1974, 1981, 1988, 1992 and 2000, and she was warmly received on each occasion.
In October 2011, aged 85, and having just attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, the Queen was hosted by almost 120,000 Western Australians at the Big Aussie BBQ on Perth's Esplanade. The enjoyment of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh was palpable. It was that occasion in Perth, a grand and warm farewell, that marked her last day in Western Australia and Australia.
A very special lady who did her duty right to the end, as she always said she would. Rest In peace with your prince.
Margaret Forbes shared:
Remembering an amazing human being who, throughout her long life, was true to the promise she made as a young woman. She served with grace and dignity.
They are emblematic of the affections held by many, many Western Australians.
As the Good Book tells us, there is a time to mourn and a time to dance. Our sorrow now gives way to optimism and eventually celebration. In London and then here in Canberra we witnessed the proclamation of a new sovereign, His Majesty King Charles III. We look forward to the coronation of him and the Queen Consort. The new King's great strength, in addition to his personal qualities, is his unmatched apprenticeship for this role. We have seen and respected the way he and his wife took on many of Queen Elizabeth's duties in recent months and the support they gave her following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh. Over time, he will no doubt successfully marry the well-established traditions of his mother with his own style. The new king will be a king for our times, in the same way the Queen was for hers. To borrow some lines from a famous anthem:
Thy choicest gifts in store
On him be pleased to pour
The long reign and even the passing of our late Queen has showcased the virtues of constitutional monarchy. It is marked here by a distinctly Australian character, and it will be its Australian characteristics that will sustain it for many years to come. The Crown continues to evolve in a way that keeps it central to our lives. I believe, for example, that it can be a conduit through which greater reconciliation can be achieved, rather than being a barrier to it. Above all, constitutional monarchy matters not because of the power it wields, but the power that it denies. As she sailed away from Fremantle in the royal yacht Gothic at the end of her 1954 tour, the Queen broadcast a message to Australians in which she said:
… it has demonstrated that the Crown is a human link between all the people who owe allegiance to me, an allegiance of mutual love and respect and never of compulsion.
This is what it was. This is what it remained for seven decades. Our late Queen would be humbled and deeply appreciative of our mourning for the end of her reign, but she put enormous value on the power and stability of continuity. She would expect us to embrace this new era, and all it promises, with confidence and faith. So, may God save the King.
Question agreed to, honourable senators joining in a moment of silence.