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Wednesday, 8 February 2012
Page: 430

Mr McCORMACK (Riverina) (17:02): Queen Elizabeth II has been a mighty monarch. To hold down any role for 60 years in any era, let alone in this day and age, is truly remarkable. Yet when it comes to Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, this is unsurprising, for Her Majesty is a truly remarkable woman.

It was said that the sun did not set on the British Empire when Queen Victoria was on the throne. This was because in the 19th century—the Victorian age—the British Empire was so huge, and covered so many parts of the globe, that it was always daylight somewhere in the empire. Yet Queen Victoria, who reigned a record 63 years and seven months—from the time that she was 18 in 1837 until her death in her 82nd year in 1901—spent most of her time at home and much of that mourning the early death at age 42 of her beloved husband, Prince Albert, in 1861.

The life of Queen Elizabeth II was never going to be sedentary. The times into which she was born and raised demanded an active, busy and globetrotting monarch, and in Queen Elizabeth this is what the world has seen. The world is an astonishingly different place now from what it was in 1926 when Elizabeth became the first child of Prince Albert—Duke of York and later King George VI—and his wife, Elizabeth. Sixty years after she ascended to the throne upon the 1952 death of her father, in an austere Britain still facing post-World War II rationing, Queen Elizabeth reached the Diamond Jubilee of her reign with a new website, showing just how much the world has changed.

The Queen has modernised the monarchy, a tradition stretching back to the eighth century. Despite the often anti-establishment age in which we live and a voracious media, sections of which have relentlessly pursued and tried to tear down the royal family and all it represents, the monarchy endures strongly, with widespread global respect and admiration thanks largely to the awe in which Queen Elizabeth is held the world over. This is how it should be.

Queen Elizabeth has been a fine Queen. She is a queen deserving of the greatest affection and respect—dignified, honourable and regal, yet happy to mix freely with people of all backgrounds, faiths and races, especially in times of crisis. Whilst the boundaries have changed, the Queen's appeal in the Riverina led to 66.81 per cent of voters in the 1999 republic referendum voting 'no' to change. This was the fourth highest vote against the republic of the federal electorates within New South Wales. The Queen is enormously popular, certainly in the Riverina. Locals still recall her visit to Wagga Wagga on 13 February 1954, an event headlined by the Daily Advertiser newspaper as the city's greatest day. Indeed, when I had the privilege of meeting the Queen in Sydney during her royal visit in 2000, she recalled the fanfare she had received at what she aptly remembered as a market town. Her memory was vivid and her recollections of Wagga Wagga and its people were fond. I was impressed that, of all the towns in all the realms over which she reigns and which she has visited, she had such a recall of Wagga Wagga. Maybe that was also to do with the quaint name of my home town—but she did remember the people and the fanfare that she received.

May her long reign continue and may happiness and good health carry her through her continuing devoted duty to her subjects and to the Commonwealth. Long live the Queen!