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Wednesday, 8 February 2012
Page: 409

Mrs ANDREWS (McPherson) (12:24): It is with great pleasure that I rise today to give my warmest congratulations to Her Majesty the Queen as we celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of her accession to the throne. This is a remarkable achievement of longevity and commitment, particularly to Australia, and for that we are sincerely grateful and appreciative. In 1977 Her Majesty celebrated her Silver Jubilee; in 2002 she celebrated her Golden Jubilee; and now, in 2012, she will celebrate her Diamond Jubilee. The milestones of Her Majesty's reign have been celebrated with enthusiasm throughout the Commonwealth, and I am confident that the Diamond Jubilee will be no exception.

Queen Elizabeth II will be one of only two British monarchs to have celebrated such a milestone as the Diamond Jubilee; Queen Victoria is the only other British monarch to have reigned for 60 years or more. I have no doubt that Queen Elizabeth II will become the longest serving a British monarch in history. Her Majesty's father, King George VI, reigned for a relatively short time compared to the reign of his daughter. King George VI passed away too soon, at only 56 years of age, leaving his daughter with the enormous task of reigning over the entire Commonwealth. The Diamond Jubilee takes place this year to mark the Queen's 60-year reign after coming to the throne on 6 February 1952, with her coronation taking place on 2 June 1953.

As Australia is a constitutional monarchy: the Queen is Australia's sovereign, and she plays very important symbolic and ceremonial roles. As the head of state of 15 Commonwealth realms and of the UK as well as of the Commonwealth itself, which consists of 54 independent countries, the Queen is always exceptionally and understandably very busy. However, Her Majesty has always found the time to visit and reaffirm her longstanding commitment to Australia.

We were fortunate enough to be visited by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in October last year, and I believe there was a real sense of community excitement by all Australians about the royal visit. This was the first time that I had met Her Majesty and Prince Philip, but it was the third time that I had seen both the Queen and Prince Philip. The first time I remember very clearly: it was on 20 April 1970 and it was in Townsville. I was a very young schoolgirl at that stage, and I, with the other children in my class, lined the streets as Her Majesty and Prince Philip drove through. We stood there for many hours, with the excitement and anticipation building, to see Her Majesty for a couple of seconds. Many years later I still hold that memory. It was interesting that, when the latest royal visit was announced and we knew the Queen and Prince Philip were visiting, all of my children shared a similar anticipation and excitement about the Queen's coming to Australia and what it meant to them. So I think the Queen and Prince Philip are very positive both for Australia and for the sense of community we have and hopefully will have into the future.

Discussions on whether Australia should become a republic are frequent. However, despite this debate and a referendum in 1999, our great country still remains part of the Commonwealth, with Her Majesty our Queen. Since Federation in 1901, Australia has only had six monarchs. For over half of this time, 60 years, Australia has been under the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen has seen Australia change Prime Ministers 12 times, yet her commitment and loyalty to all these governments, of both political persuasions, has not wavered.

I will finish my remarks today by again congratulating Her Majesty on the celebration of her Diamond Jubilee and noting the oath she swore at her coronation on 2 June 1953: 'to govern the peoples of Australia and her other realms according to their respective laws and customs'. Your Majesty, you have most certainly stayed true to your oath, and we as Australians are eternally grateful for your service and dedication to us. God save the Queen.