In a final official event, MPs in both houses of federal parliament have paid tribute to the Queen and shared their reflections on her death, with many acknowledging the difficult nature of the past two weeks for First Nations people.
- Parliament resumed for a special sitting day to hear condolence motions for the Queen
- Many MPs spoke of her devotion to service and her many official visits to Australia
- Others acknowledged the connection between the Queen and colonialism for First Nations people
Parliament was recalled for a special day of sitting so MPs across both chambers could deliver their condolence motions.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese spoke first in the House of Representatives, followed by Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles and Nationals leader David Littleproud.
Much of what was said has already been canvassed by the various leaders and MPs in the two weeks since the Queen’s death. However, Friday will provide any MP who wants it an opportunity to cement their reflection on the parliamentary record.
Mr Albanese again touched on the historic legacy the Queen left and her devotion to her service to the Commonwealth, as well as the revolutionary changes she oversaw during her reign.
“Seventy years as sovereign is a towering record, yet what will always stand tallest in our hearts and our memories is the commitment and spirit to service and duty that the Queen brought so unflaggingly to her role,” he said.
“The Queen served with dignity, fidelity, humour and a grace that was indefatigable and she took nothing for granted.”
Mr Dutton touched on, among other things, her dedication to both the people within the realm as well as her family, even during periods of controversy.
“The Queen saw the family as the focal point of her and our existence, the core of a thriving community,” he said.
“Yes, her own life, of course, was not without family controversies and tragedies. The annus horribilis in 1992, Princess Diana’s death in 1997 and the losses of her mother and sister in 2002.
“But for a Queen admired for her almost transcendence, those events would just reinforce just how human she was.”
Mr Littleproud spoke of the Queen’s place in the heart and minds of regional Australians, and the many trips she made to regional and rural towns during her official visits.
“Yet almost all of these moments were a dream come true,” he said.
“They were real-life storybook moments that did not matter if you were a small child in Coffs Harbour or a middle-aged bloke in Mackay, this was an opportunity to get a glimpse, or even meet, the Queen.”
Acknowledgement of First Nations people’s reaction
Among the commentary in the wake of the Queen’s death has been the links between the Crown, colonisation and the dispossession and ongoing trauma inflicted upon First Nations people.
MPs in both chambers touched on this conflict during their condolence motions on Friday.
Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney noted that the period of mourning had seen many grapple with mixed emotions about the Queen’s death.
“For many Indigenous Australians, the legacy of the monarchy is fraught — a complex, difficult and painful reminder of the impact of colonisation,” she said.
“This week has seen many wrestling with the swirling emotions … but equally there are many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have great respect for the Queen, especially as a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.”
Greens senator and Yamatji-Noongar woman Dorinda Cox said she wanted to acknowledge the “nuanced and complex emotions” being felt by people across the country.
“Amongst these are the feelings of anger, distress, hurt and frustration by First Nations people who, unfortunately, their sorry business does not end today,” he said.
“We are a mature nation, capable of conversations that both commemorate the life of a public figure while calling out the problematic legacy of the British Empire.”
Greens leader Adam Bandt echoed that sentiment in the lower house, saying it was time to discuss the role of the monarchy in Australia’s future.
Independent senator David Pocock paid respect to the Queen but said he also wanted to acknowledge the feelings of First Nations people “and the history these events have forced us to revisit”.
MPs in both houses will spend Friday sharing their condolences before parliament resumes again next week. It was postponed in response to the Queen’s death.