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Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 8 March 2022

Tags: Parliament

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr speaker, on behalf of the Greens, I wish Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II congratulations on the celebration of her Platinum Jubilee and to acknowledge on this International Women's Day one of the great women of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Like a number of people in this place, I am an avowed republican but I love and admire Her Majesty very much and acknowledge that her entire life has been dedicated to service to the people of the Commonwealth, the people of Australia and Tasmania. The traits I see in Her Majesty are those of a good, strong, decent woman. Her Majesty also has, in some ways, the heart of an activist. Following her recovery from COVID 19 at the age of 95, our Queen has stepped up to voice support for the people of Ukraine.

I also acknowledge that Her Majesty the Queen has the heart of a Green and -

Members interjecting.

Ms O'CONNOR - It is true and I am about to help the House understand why.

Ms Archer - She does not get involved in politics, though.

Ms O'CONNOR - Ms Archer, having a Green heart has nothing to do with politics. It is about a sensibility and a compassion for the natural world and all its people.

Her son, Prince Charles, is a deeply committed conservationist who, in fact, talks to his plants. Her late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, was a passionate advocate for nature and for looking after the planet. One of the most wonderful friendships that I believe the Queen has is with another great human being, Sir David Attenborough. He and the Queen have teamed up in recent years to be a strong global voice for nature and for looking after our forests, for looking after the planet. That means, of course, looking after people and all life on the planet.

A few years ago, the Queen launched the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy, an initiative that began in 2015 as a network of forest conservation programs throughout the 54 countries of the Commonwealth of Nations. By 2016, 16 countries had become involved and by 2019 the number was 46. All over the world now there are Commonwealth nations that have set aside dedicated areas of forest to contribute towards the Queen's Canopy.

I do not know if Her Majesty reads the speeches and contributions that are made in Westminster parliaments on the marking of her Platinum Jubilee, but Your Majesty, if you do read this transcript, I want you to know that the Greens tried to persuade the Minister for Resources, Mr Barnett, who is a dedicated monarchist, that there should be a contribution from Tasmania to the Queen's Canopy. This beautiful island, with its extraordinary, carbon-rich, unique-in-the-world, forests, could make a contribution to the Queen's Canopy, and it should. Regrettably, our attempts to have the Tasmanian Liberal Government contribute towards the Queen's Canopy were rebuffed.

In November last year, Her Majesty made a speech at an evening of the COP26 event on climate. Her Majesty said -

I am delighted to welcome you all to the 26th United Nations climate change conference, and its perhaps fitting that you have come together in Glasgow, once a heartland of the industrial revolution, but now a place to address climate change. This is a duty I am especially happy to discharge as the impact of the environment on human progress was a subject close to my heart of my dear late husband Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

I remember well that in 1969 he told an academic gathering if the world pollution situation is not critical at the moment, it is as certain as anything can be that the situation will become increasingly intolerable within a very short time. If we fail to cope with this challenge all the other problems will pale into insignificance.

It is a great source of pride to me that the leading role my husband played in encouraging people to protect our fragile planet lives on through the work of our eldest son Charles and his eldest son William. I could not be more proud of them. Indeed, I have drawn great comfort and inspiration from the relentless enthusiasm of people of all ages, especially the young, in calling for everyone to play their part.

It is the hope of many that the legacy of this summit written in history books yet to be printed will describe you as the leaders who did not pass up the opportunity, and that you answered the call of those future generations. That you left this conference as a community of nations, with a determination, a desire and a plan to address the impact of climate and to recognise that the time for words has now moved to the time for action. Of course, the benefits of such actions will not be there to enjoy for all of us here today. We none of us will live forever, but we are doing this not for ourselves, but for our children, and our children's children, and those who will follow in their footsteps.

Mr Speaker, that is a true global leader speaking to a gathering of global leaders, who history now tells us failed to meet the challenge of the times. Of course, we have to remain hopeful, that there will be change, as I am sure Her Majesty will. As every member of this House knows, Her Majesty is 95 years of age. What an extraordinary life. I am sure everyone in this place had the same feeling as me when we learned that Her Majesty had contracted COVID-19. Yet she has recovered. That is something for which we should all be very thankful.

I wonder what happens when her majesty turns 100? Does she send herself a letter? I hope she gets the opportunity to do so. I trust that she will. Long live Her Majesty the Queen.