Mr RAMSEY (Grey—Opposition Whip) (16:21): I was unable to be present last Friday for the special sitting of parliament to debate the condolence motion on the passing of Queen Elizabeth, and I thought might take a few minutes here this afternoon to make some remarks.
The level of emotion raised by the passing of Queen Elizabeth II has surprised many, not just here in Australia but across the Commonwealth and in countries beyond, as people have paused to reflect on a life and contribution in this fast-moving world in which we live. Through changes of government, major conflicts, natural disasters and huge economic challenges, the Queen remained concerned, informed, compassionate and committed, and that in itself is remarkable. That she was able to keep that level of incredible commitment to her constituency, right across the Commonwealth, is unlikely to ever be equalled. That she was able to keep that intensity up for seven decades, across two centuries, is quite remarkable.
Most of us alive today, and that’s anyone under about the age of 75—I notice you raise your eyebrow, Mr Deputy Speaker; I’m certainly not one of them—cannot remember a world without Queen Elizabeth. She visited Australia on 16 occasions. She came to South Australia seven times. However, she was renowned for taking an interest outside the capital cities and, on a number of occasions in South Australia, found time to visit the regions, including visits to Woomera, to Port Lincoln and twice to Whyalla, all in my electorate of Grey. Many will have personal memories of those occasions. In fact, she was the only reigning monarch to have ever visited Australia. Considering how much the world, and particularly international travel, has changed in that time, that may not be as remarkable as it seems at face value, but nevertheless it is a fact and should be noted. It is a status that I suspect may change fairly soon, as I would expect that King Charles, who has visited Australia many times in the past, would become the second ruling monarch to visit us.
Queen Elizabeth II was loved and respected by the global community, and our affection for her continued to grow as her reign progressed. She reigned across seven decades, and her tours to Australia forged a bond which has survived throughout that time. I wish her family all the best as they deal with their personal grief, and I extend good wishes to King Charles III.
I would also like to thank my many constituents who found their way to my electorate offices to sign condolence books. I apologise to the people of Whyalla, who had two visits from the Queen, for the fact that my office was actually shut owing to a long-term commitment around leave and an employee being replaced, but a condolence book is in place now and they can now sign it.