23 September 2022


I’d also like to join my colleagues in the Senate in expressing my deep condolences on the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. I was pleased to be in the parliament yesterday for the national memorial service for Her Majesty. It was a moving and fitting service. It conveyed the grief felt right across Australia upon the death of the Queen.

The Queen represented so many of the values that we treasure in Australia. She carried herself with a quiet dignity that made her public contributions all the more meaningful, and she carried out her duties as Queen of Australia with a steady determination for the longest reign in history. The Queen’s affection for Australia has been well documented. I believe Australians are proud of the special place our country held in the heart of our late sovereign

The Queen visited Australia on 16 occasions. I am sure many of us have been going back over old footage and documents of the tours since Her Majesty’s passing. I still find the huge crowds and their adoration quite striking. It’s been evident over the past two weeks that this has not faded over time as Australians from all walks of life have expressed their deep sorrow.

During what sadly would have been her last visit to Australia in 2011, the Queen spoke of how Australia had grown since she first came here in 1954. Australia, she said:

… has made dramatic progress economically, in social, scientific and industrial endeavours and, above all, in self-confidence.

I believe that this speaks to Her Majesty’s admiration and affection for our country but also to how she viewed our progress as part of the Commonwealth. In her view, there was no conflict between Australia becoming more modern and self-confident and her relationship with us as our sovereign. This represents her approach throughout her reign. She never held back the progress of any nation, and, in fact, welcomed and encouraged innovation and changes that have shaped the world into the one that we now know today—a very different world to when Elizabeth II first became Queen in 1952.

Australia certainly looks very different today, with families from all over the world coming to call this great country of ours home since the Queen’s ascension. I know many of us from migrant families have been deeply affected by Her Majesty’s passing. Even though they may have come from countries with no relationship with the Queen, swearing allegiance to the sovereign when attaining their citizenship was, for many migrants here in Australia, part of the most important day of their lives. This was certainly the case for some of my family who have always been fond of the Queen since they came to Australia having migrated from Italy. For many migrants, particularly those from war-torn countries, the Australian system of government with a British head of state was a representation of stability, with its processes providing a transparency in the application of state power that is lost on so many parts of the world.

She reigned for 70 years, the longest of any British sovereign in history. And I read recently that 94 per cent of the world’s population was born during her reign—an extraordinary number. It is not surprising that so many around the world, and especially in Australia, saw her as a source of strength and certainty in addition to her personal attributions of kindness and compassion.

Of course, Her Majesty was also a mother, a grandmother and great-grandmother in addition to her role as Queen, so I want to particularly express my condolences to the royal family, to His Majesty, who must process their personal grief while shouldering the burdensome processes of state that followed the death of a sovereign. A long life devoted to duty, to family, to faith and to service has come to an end, and I know that right across Australia we will all grieve Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. May she rest in eternal peace and may God save the King.