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Wednesday, 8 February 2012
Page: 428

Mrs PRENTICE (Ryan) (16:52): What a rare moment in history—even more so as a member of parliament—to be able to recognise our reigning sovereign's Diamond Jubilee. I would like to put on record my congratulations and deepest respect for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on this, the 60th anniversary of her ascension to the throne after the death of her father, King George VI. In the year of her Diamond Jubilee, we have the ideal time—indeed, the only time in the history of our federal government—to pause to reflect on and honour her service, her dedication, her loyalty to her duty and the great love she has shown her people, who reside all over the world in our Commonwealth of Nations. The Commonwealth today is a voluntary association of 54 countries, made up of the world's largest and smallest, richest and poorest countries—home to two billion citizens of all faiths and ethnicities. Her Majesty is not just the Queen of England but of all these nations, which include Australia. It is little wonder that, over her 60-year reign, the admiration and love of her people has continued to grow.

Although we have not had a visit from the Queen in the electorate of Ryan, we are very fortunate to have been visited by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, in 1958, and Prince William was not far outside our boundaries when he represented Her Majesty during his 2011 visit to the flood victims in Brisbane. However, the Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, has visited the city of Brisbane on several occasions. There are a number of important reminders of her time there.

In 1954, as the newly crowned monarch, she was the only reigning monarch to have visited Australia. In 1963 she unveiled a marker stone in the ongoing building work of the magnificent St John's Cathedral. In 1970, they were joined by Princess Anne for the bicentenary of Captain Cook's arrival in Australia. During that visit she opened the Brisbane District Court and attended a performance by the Queensland Theatre Company, the only Australian theatre company to have given a royal performance. In 1977 the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh came as part of celebrations for her Silver Jubilee, unveiling the Jubilee Fountain at the new Queensland Cultural Centre. In 1982 they came for the Commonwealth Games. They came again in 1988, this time joined by Prince Edward, to visit World Expo 88. Finally, of course, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh came last October to view the progress after our recovery from the January floods. On all occasions, flag-waving Queenslanders welcomed her with open arms.

Towards the end of 2011, which had been a year of both tragedy and, later, triumph for our state of Queensland, we had the pleasure of welcoming the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to our city again. It was a remarkable scene, with tens of thousands of people greeting their Royal Highnesses upon their arrival at Southbank. The special place the Queen has in the hearts of all Australians was very much on show throughout that special day.

Many of my colleagues here today have spoken of how the Queen has dedicated her entire life to the service of her country and to the Commonwealth. I do wonder, however, how many of us can truly understand the magnitude of this task and the responsibility that comes with it. Our own experience of public life can perhaps give us a very small insight into what is involved, but the magnitude of the task must have been overwhelmingly daunting for the young Princess Elizabeth. It is for this as much as for any other reason that we should be grateful to her for her constant service.

As a country we have come a long way since that day in February in 1952. The world is a very different place. Although there have been times the countries and the governments of our world have wavered, with conflicts, with war and with upheaval, the Queen's steadfast leadership has not. As we reflect on what has occurred over the past 60 years, it puts into perspective the various leaders who have held power in this period of history. Presidents, prime ministers and indeed opposition leaders have come and gone all over the world. In Australia we have had 11 Prime Ministers and 17 opposition leaders in this time. One of the abiding tenets of our system of government is that, beyond the ties of history, language and institutions, it is the understanding of shared values which unite us: democracy, freedom, peace, the rule of law and opportunity for all. The Queen's continuing reign over this Commonwealth, including over this country, is a testament to the stability of our system of government and the quiet wisdom of leadership, which I hope will continue for many years into the future.

I know Australians will at this time and over the coming year stop to acknowledge and celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. I am grateful that I have been able to speak on behalf of the citizens of Ryan to this very special motion and to say on their behalf: 'God bless Australia and may God bless the Queen.'