Mr D O’BRIEN (Gippsland South) (14:18): I am pleased to rise on behalf of the people of Gippsland South to extend my condolences to His Royal Highness King Charles III and to reflect on the life of service of the late Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen was a constant in our lives, a reassuring presence, a rock of stability and easily the most enduring public figure in most of our lives. For many of us she was like the grandmother that was living in a faraway place but was always there and always that stable, calm presence. There are many superlatives that have been bandied around in recent days since the Queen’s death, and they are appropriate—words like service, grace, humility, resilience, calm, wise counsel, charm, endurance, reassurance, stoicism, steadfastness and, above all, duty. I think that is what Queen Elizabeth II will be most remembered for: her duty, her life of service. What has been remarked on a number of times in recent days is the commitment she gave on her 21st birthday to actually serve her people, her Commonwealth, for the length of her life, and the length of her life was quite a remarkable one—what she saw in that time and what she did. Her life of service was exemplary, and I am sure that her son, our new King, will strive to emulate that life of service as he takes the throne.
Some, but not many, Gippslanders will remember the Queen’s 1954 visit. Some of the events that happened during that visit—and the way it was reported in the Weekly Times, which I will quote from shortly—perhaps remind us how long ago it was that her reign began. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh flew to Sale, I believe, from Melbourne and landed at East Sale RAAF base, where they boarded a train. There were 70 000 people reported to have gathered in Sale. That is hard to believe when you consider that even now the population of East Gippsland and Wellington shires is only around about 90 000 people. But you can read some of the stories that go with it. The Weekly Times reported at the time:
The first passenger train for nearly 20 years ran from Orbost to Sale …
carrying schoolchildren. It left at 4.30 am, and the:
… schoolchildren travelled by bus and car to Sale from Club Terrace, Cabbage Tree and Mallacoota to join …
the team in Sale. From my electorate:
Fishermen’s children from townships along the coast of Corner Inlet joined with farmers’ children in the Alberton and farther distant South Gippsland Shire strong‐posts and the school teacher from Glen Wills was helping with the Omeo Shire contingent. This included children from Benambra, others who had started from Reedy Flat at 3 a.m., and the entire “roll” of Ensay pupils—
Ensay being my father’s home town—
… the youngest aged 4½ years—who came in an open cattle truck.
It is hard to believe that that many people came. But likewise, the Weekly Times reported:
After receiving the presidents of Morwell, Mirboo, Rosedale and Woorayl Shires and their wives, the Queen was presented with a bouquet by Anne Fullerton, a 13‐year‐old Traralgon Legacy ward.
Likewise, children were involved in the welcoming—and I quote again from the Weekly Times:
… beginning with the Scouts and Guides outside the station and continuing with scholars from Morwell and Mirboo, Callignee and Carrajung, Woorayl and Willung South, Balook and Jumbuk.
An amazing visit it was as people lined the railway line from Sale to Traralgon, where it was so warm that apparently the tar started to melt on the Traralgon train platform, but according to the Weekly Times:
In the midday heat, the Queen looked cool and fresh in a frock and jacket of white corded silk patterned with old‐fashioned pinks.
Many people still remember those times, even those who were very small children, but that visit has stuck with Gippslanders for many years. The Queen of course will be fondly remembered for that visit but also for the reassuring part she has played in all of our lives for so long. On behalf of the people of Gippsland South, I extend our sincere condolences to His Royal Highness, our new King—King Charles III—and the extended family, and I express our heartfelt thanks to the late Queen for her life of service and duty. God bless the Queen. God save the King.