Death Of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II And Accession Of His Majesty King Charles III
Mr COULTON (Parkes—Chief Nationals Whip) (10:15): It’s a great honour and privilege for me to speak today on behalf of the people of the Parkes electorate, an electorate that covers half of New South Wales and an area that had a great affection for the Queen. Over the last week or so, we’ve seen a farewell to a monarch that was years in the planning and executed to perfection—something that was rehearsed and practised. What wasn’t rehearsed was the outpouring of emotion and feeling from billions of people around the globe.
My own response on hearing, early that morning, of the Queen’s passing—even though somewhat inevitable, at 96 years of age—was to feel an emotional impact. That emotional impact was felt right across Australia, the Commonwealth and, indeed, the globe.
In my electorate, the connection to Queen Elizabeth II was somewhat personal, due to several visits over a period of time. There was the time when she gave her title to the Royal Flying Doctor Service, in a visit to Broken Hill where she spoke to patients via the radio at the Broken Hill base, all those years ago; and her visit to Dubbo, where many people came in from right across western New South Wales to meet with her. There was her visit to the town of Bourke, and people who were students at Bourke’s school have that fond memory of actually meeting and seeing the Queen up close for the first time. Even her family has visited: King Charles, in the 1980s, when visiting his polo coach Sinclair Hill, attended church at Croppa Creek, a village north of Moree; and, more recently, her grandson Harry and his wife Meghan made a visit to Dubbo. So that connection to the Royal Family is close and personal for the people that I represent.
I just want to reflect on a story my mother used to tell. In 1954, as a very young schoolteacher at Warialda, she was in charge of a busload of students going to Casino, over on the coast, to see the Queen. They boarded Louis Kratz’s school bus—a very rudimentary form of transport, even by that standard—and, on a gravel road over the Great Dividing Range, travelled through the night. Most of the kids, on a very hot and humid night, were carsick. They got there, to join thousands at Casino, saw the Queen pass by, piled on the bus and drove through the next night to go home again. And that was the response in 1954, when 70 per cent of Australia’s population actually saw the Queen at first hand.
So there’s the personal connection to the Queen. But there’s also what she symbolises: stability, decency, a sense of duty, family, commitment to marriage—all of those things that we admire, as Australians, she embodied.
It is the end of an era. The people of the Parkes electorate certainly have been mourning the loss of their Queen. Probably the most recent connection was when last year’s Local Hero, Shanna Whan, had a Zoom meeting with the Queen during the pandemic, where she talked about her home village of Maules Creek; more recently, she was one of the privileged few to represent Australia in that delegation to the Queen’s funeral in Westminster Abbey.
Vale, Queen Elizabeth II. The people of the Parkes electorate are offering their sincere condolences to her family. May her memory live forevermore.