I rise to support the speakers before me in celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. As a proud monarchist it gives me great pleasure to extend my warm congratulations to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee. For most of us Elizabeth has been our Queen for as long as we can remember. It is difficult to imagine the monarchy without her. In fact, the only British monarch to reign for as long as her was her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria.
Over the last 60 years the Queen has conducted herself with such grace, dignity and quiet authority that it is easy for us to forget the role is one that she neither sought nor expected. She was unexpectedly thrust into the position as first in line to the throne only after the shock abdication of her uncle Edward VIII and the elevation of her father, Albert, subsequently known as King George VI.
The legacy of Queen Elizabeth's reign will be one of dedication and exemplary service. Her sense of duty was well and truly in place even before she ascended to the throne. Indeed, it was on her 21st birthday that she famously declared that she intended to devote her whole life, whether it be long or short, to the service of the people of the Commonwealth. I suspect there were very few of us who expressed such noble sentiments at our 21st birthday speech.
Since that time she has stayed true to that vow and in my opinion thoroughly earned every privilege given to her at her birth. In fact, the Queen has set a new standard for selflessness that would leave many in this place in her shadow. We consider ourselves to be busy people. But Her Majesty the Queen has maintained a schedule equal to, if not greater than, ours not for a couple of terms of three years and not for a couple of decades but for half a century. Now, at the age of 85 years, she shows few signs of slowing down. I bring the room's attention to Her Majesty's recent visit to Australia where her schedule kept her enormously busy. The stamina of the lady was something that both my wife and I commented on. I daresay that our parents would not have been able to keep up with the schedule of the Queen.
It is amazing to think of the changes that have marked this period in our history: the expansion of the Commonwealth, the growth of the European Union, the end of the Cold War and the threat of terrorism that has engulfed the world. Throughout this period, through all the changes, the Queen has remained a continuous beacon of the values of our system which this government is built upon. We are justifiably proud in this country of our standing as one of the world's oldest continuous democracies. However I believe that we owe a great deal of this stability to the Westminster system of government that we inherited from our British forebears.
The Queen has a special place in the hearts of all Australians; that much is obvious from the tens of thousands who gathered to see her when she visited Australia last year. I believe the monarchy is going through something of a resurgence at the moment. Some people still talk of the need for a republic, but I believe that the public outpouring of support for the Queen seen in recent times—and not only for the Queen but also for Prince William, for his new bride and the royal family—puts that crusade to bed for the foreseeable future. In my opinion, that is not a bad thing. In times of constant change and turbulence, whether those upheavals are political, social or economic, it is good to have something good that surrounds us—a point which we can look to and be reminded of who we are, where we come from and how as a nation we do things.
I conclude by again offering my warm congratulations to Her Majesty on this remarkable achievement. May she always be remembered as dedicated and as a source of wisdom and continuity. Long live the Queen!