It is entirely appropriate to record a few words now, I believe, both as an Australian and on behalf of the Bruce electorate, in recognition of the service of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II through her long reign.
This is not a motion about what our system of government could be, or should be, or the British Empire or colonialism, or the Queen or the King's role in the dismissal or whatever else some may try to make it today. It's a motion of condolence to recognise a truly remarkable life well lived and the passing of Australia's head of state.
Whatever the different views people may hold on constitutional monarchy, Her Majesty was Australia's head of state for over 70 years. Almost all Australians have never known any other sovereign. She reigned for well over half of the length of our Federation.
Indeed, she is the only British monarch and therefore the only Australian head of state ever to have actually visited Australia, and she did so 16 times. Some 70 per cent of Australia's population at the time were said to have seen her in 1954 on her first tour.
She reigned always in accordance with the values of the oath that she took to serve the people of Australia and the Commonwealth. We should acknowledge that with respect and gratitude. Hers was a remarkable role model of service and, as was aptly said yesterday, servant leadership. The crown fell upon her head when she was just 25 years old. She fulfilled her duties with dignity, grace, never a hint of personal scandal and always in the public interest.
I will quote Paul Keating's poignant words upon her death:
Queen Elizabeth … instinctively attached herself to the public good against what she recognised as a tidal wave of private interest and private reward. And she did this for a lifetime. Never deviating.
He also said:
She was an exemplar of public leadership, married for a lifetime to political restraint, remaining always the constitutional monarch.
Elizabeth II was a constant figure across so much of the world for the better part of a century. With her passing ends an era, the so-called second Elizabethan age. You won't find speeches from me lauding the coming of the so-called third Carolean era or singing or chanting the British national anthem, but Elizabeth was an icon of an age, of generations, for Britain, our nation and the world.
In 2010, the Queen addressed the United Nations General Assembly. She did so as the head of state for 16 member states and head of the Commonwealth of 54 countries. She commenced her address by saying, 'I believe I was last here in 1957.' What a true remarkable incarnation she had through a span of history.
Today it's right that the parliament honours the service of Her Majesty the Queen, whose like will not be seen again in our lifetimes—if ever. Her memory will live for centuries hence.
May she rest in eternal peace.