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Thursday, 9 February 2017
Page: 604

Mrs PRENTICE (RyanAssistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services) (11:52): I rise today to pay tribute to the reign of Her Majesty Elizabeth II, and to congratulate Her Majesty on yet another remarkable milestone, her sapphire jubilee. It seems like only yesterday when, in 2015, I spoke to congratulate our monarch on her achievement in becoming the longest-reigning British and, therefore, Australian head of state. The Queen, as many in the Commonwealth affectionately know her, has reigned for 65 years, and has for many Australians been the only head of state they have ever known. For an individual who took on this role as a young 25-year-old, Her Majesty has seen generations of political leadership, including the famed Winston Churchill, wars, and the evolution of the role of Great Britain in the Commonwealth and in world affairs.

Today, as the longest-reigning living monarch in the world, the Queen still manages a relentless schedule of public engagements and, whilst reducing her activity in late 2016, Her Majesty continues to demonstrate a dignified, level-headed approach to diplomacy. Succeeding her father, George VI, following his death in 1952, the Queen's reign began just three years into Sir Robert Menzies' own record-breaking leadership. Her Majesty has been noted to have said, following the overtake of her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria's record of 63 years on the throne, that she never expected nor aspired to such a feat. 1952 was a period of rebuild in the world's postwar history. Seven years after the Second World War, many global leaders were still defined by that significant conflict. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was the great Sir Winston Churchill, Harry Truman stood at the helm as President of the United States, Joseph Stalin was Premier of the Soviet Union, and the Long March leader himself, Mao Zedong, was Chairman of the Communist Party of China. It is incredible to believe that a 25-year-old grieving at the loss of her father stood amongst these giants of world history. But Queen Elizabeth II's claim to the Crown was only made possible due to the abdication of her uncle, Edward VIII, a mere16 years earlier.

For the past seven decades, and for countless British prime ministers and many Australian prime ministers, the Queen has remained a constant platform in global politics. Throughout the years, the Queen has grown wiser and more resilient and become, as one could so eloquently put it, the epitome of omnipotence. Attending to a mix of ceremony, politics and diplomacy, the Queen has certainly demonstrated her unwavering commitment to the role. The pace of public life and engagements is taxing for even the fittest, yet at 90 years old, the Queen continues to excel, having given her life to serving the people of Great Britain and the Commonwealth. It gives me immense pride to acknowledge that Australia is united under the Crown.

The monarch's role in the modern era is to be impartial in politics. However, during her reign Her Majesty as the head of state has been called upon to participate in political decision-making. On two occasions, she was required to appoint a new British prime minister on the advice of cabinet.

Irrespective of the separation of Australia from the remainder of the Commonwealth, the Queen will always remain a part of our large family. Her role in leading and representing the Commonwealth's interests abroad is an activity in which she has truly excelled. Overseeing and managing Britain's evolving role in the Commonwealth, the Queen has seen a move from colonial master to partner as Britain's remaining colonies in Africa, South Asia, Oceania and the Caribbean transition to independence. As an ever-calm and pensive woman, the Queen has remained a beloved figure throughout the Commonwealth despite the tumultuous nature of the world.

The Queen has visited Australia 16 times during her reign. There is a genuine affinity and respect for her when she visits, no matter a person's creed or political stance. Noting the republican movement in Australia, the admiration and respect that a majority of us have for Her Majesty bodes well for our continued recognition of the monarchy. With a life of reduced privacy and being accessed the world over, it is continually grounding that she has a realistic understanding of both the privileges and the limitations of the role.

I imagine—this is purely speculative of course—that the Queen would have enjoyed a life less intruded upon. However, it is a testament to her character and sense of duty that she has embraced her role with open arms to unite the corners of the Commonwealth. The Queen's well-documented life—often at the behest of media—has seen tragedy and joy, throughout which she has overcome issues and maintained her composure.

To know that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has achieved her Sapphire Jubilee is a celebration for all, whether you are a monarchist or a republican, for she may indeed be the only monarch we will know to reach such a milestone. Congratulations to Her Majesty. I speak on behalf of my electorate of Ryan in wishing her good health and fortune to continue her reign for years to come.