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Wednesday, 8 February 2012
Page: 410

Mr VAN MANEN (Forde) (12:29): It is with much pleasure that I stand here today to pay tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the accomplishment of her Diamond Jubilee. On her 21st birthday, Queen Elizabeth II pledged:

I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and to the service of our great imperial family to which we will belong.

To this day I believe the Queen has stayed true to her pledge and now, some 60 years on, her passion and dedication has been witnessed as she continues to serve all of the Commonwealth nations.

Over the years the Queen has displayed a genuine love and warmth for our nation, as was evidenced during her visit here last year. That was brought home with her visit to Brisbane and the many that turned out at Southbank to watch her come past, but also in her visits to Melbourne and her time in Perth with CHOGM. Over the years the Queen has visited our nation 16 times, making many public appearances in each and every state as well as the mainland territories during her travels. The Queen is the first reigning monarch of Australia to visit our nation, and the crowds are always immense. Around three-quarters of the population of Australia has over that time seen the Queen during one of those visits.

Over the years the Queen has travelled the globe many times, making many public appearances. This has led to her being recognised as the most widely travelled head of state in history. Her first ever overseas trip was to southern Africa with her parents. This trip occurred around two years after she made her first ever appearance. In a rare interview, Queen Elizabeth spoke about this first appearance, which occurred on Victory Day and which celebrated the end of the war in Europe. With her sister, Margaret, in tow, the young royals mingled with the local crowds in the streets of London. During this interview she said:

We asked my parents if we could go out and see for ourselves. I remember we were terrified of being recognised… I remember the lines of an unknown people linking arms and walking down Whitehall, all of us were just swept along on a tide of happiness and relief.

Some years after her public debut the public appearances steadily increased as her father's health deteriorated. Being the third in line for succession, there was not a great expectation that she would take the throne. It was at the age of 26 when her father passed away that she assumed the role of Queen Elizabeth II.

During her life she has witnessed the ongoing transformation of what was then the British Empire to now the Commonwealth. A quote by Harold Macmillan during her visit to Ghana in 1961 gives an insight into her character, earning her great respect with everybody that she met. He wrote:

The Queen has been absolutely determined through all… She is impatient of the attitude towards her to treat her as … a film star… She has indeed 'the heart and stomach of a man'. She loves her duty and means to be a Queen.

This was amply demonstrated some six weeks prior to the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer when the Queen was widely praised for her composure during a safety crisis when shots were fired towards her at close range as she rode down the Mall. She continued to display this composure and strength during times when she saw people treat her more critically than they had in the past.

Over the years the respect and recognition that the Royal Family has been held in has waxed and waned. Recently that has been greatly renewed with the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton last year attracting a record amount of interest both locally, nationally and internationally. This was further demonstrated by the Queen's visit to our country last year. That visit elicited a number of discussions with constituents around the electorate. At a school visit last year to Shailer Park Primary School the students were engaged in a host of activities designed to better understand our government and how our country works. In one of those activities students from grades 2A and 2B made collages of the Queen and decorated her crown jewels. It was great to see our younger generations taking such a keen interest in learning about the role of the Queen in our country. She is a terrific role model for all our young people and for our nation as a whole.

It is not just the young who show an interest in the Queen. One of my constituents, June Hinze, tells me that she has a very large memorabilia collection, and I expect that there are many more people in this country who have collections of special editions of magazines or video footage of the Queen's achievements, accomplishments, family milestones et cetera. We greatly appreciate and admire the Queen for her loyal and steadfast support for this nation over the past 60 years and we wish her all the best for many future years in her role. I congratulate her again on her Diamond Jubilee.