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Queen Elizabeth II Condolence

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Tags: Condolence

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II reigned as the queen of Australia for 70 years. Her death has provoked an outpouring of feelings across the 15 countries of the Commonwealth over which she ruled supreme, as well as in so many countries beyond. The global expression of mourning we have witnessed and been part of ourselves to some degree, formally and informally, over the past fortnight is surely unprecedented in human history. Never before have so many people been so engaged with the passing of one person, and paused to reflect on its meanings personal, social and democratic.

I pay tribute to the Queen as a person. I admired her service to the community and her role; her kindness,and her steadfastness. I greatly respected her as a person who endured the public spotlight and the enormous personal privations, including the distancing her role necessitated to a great extent from her own husband and children.

I honour the calmness and gentleness of the manner with which she approached every public occasion over seven decades. She was the longest-serving monarch in English history, and she had a great commitment to the countries of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Now is the time to reflect and understand why there has been such widely different responses to the Queen's passing. It is incumbent on us all, Independents and members of parties, committed as we all say we are to lutruwita/Tasmania's support for truth-telling, treaty and justice with palawa/pakana, to listen to and take on board the expressions of outrage the Queen's death has provoked.

Queen Elizabeth's predecessor, George III, was King of England when that country invaded Australia, dispossessed the First Peoples of their land, and put in train a process of colonisation that continues to this day.

Under his successor George IV's reign, in lutruwita/Tasmania a Black Wall was sanctioned, and communities of palawa/pakana men, women and children were systematically hunted by men and dogs, flushed out and shot, or lured away from their homelands to make way for the gifting of lands to colonising pastoralists.

Some remaining peoples were withdrawn from their lands, of which they had been the custodians for tens of thousands of years, with the false hope and the false offer of a new home. Instead, they were left to rot, and died of grief and disease in a freezing island prison.

Despite these horrors, the palawa/pakana survived, and notwithstanding the nearly 200 years of abuses and silencing that they have suffered since then, they thrive in our community today.

These abhorrent acts did not occur during the Queen's lifetime and she was not directly responsible for them. However, in the time since she was crowned monarch in 1952, Australia's First People have endured further acts of violence and attempted cultural erosion. During the Stolen Generation, children were ripped from their mother's arms or taken during school, never to return to the warmth and love of their families and communities. For their comfort, the state provided them with sexual and physical abuse in the institutions to which they were taken, left to suffer with their loneliness and fear alone, and then released as traumatised adults to a lifetime of neglect and systemic racism, without employment and housing options, separated from communities and destined to addiction and crime to survive with their unbearable pain.

There is still so much systemic injustice and embedded cultural racism that exists in Australia, including on this island every day. This morning I woke to the news headline that an inquiry found systemic racism in the Northern Territory police led to the police shooting and killing of 19-year-old Kumanjayi Walker. They also found that this racism in the Northern Territory police is a microcosm of the Australian community. Aboriginal people suffer the highest incarceration rates and the highest death rates in this country so we cannot be surprised or expect otherwise that Australia's First Peoples do not mourn the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.

You cannot have it both ways. Some have argued that Queen Elizabeth bore no responsibility at all for the actions that caused further damage to the First Peoples during her reign. They argue she is just a figurehead with no real power to change the decisions of governments across the parliaments in all of her many western Westminster jurisdictions. However, in very real terms, Queen Elizabeth in her lifetime was also the supreme head of power for every law made in this parliament and every other Commonwealth one. These were the laws that enabled the stealing of children and the loss, exploitation and degradation of sacred traditional lands.

Today, the head of power for the making of all laws in this place is King Charles III. I and we pledge allegiance to his rule and to the Westminster system of laws that structures our democracy and the representation of all people in the process of making those laws. King Charles III is a kind man. He is intelligent. He understands the importance of science. He is a climate activist and a lover of nature. We are fortunate to have him as our monarch but, despite his excellent character, it is now time to talk about the future.

Australia chose not to pursue independence in the republic referendum 23 years ago but the death of the Queen and the end of her era makes this the right time today to talk again about the many reasons why Australia should have its own head of state and should be represented and accountable to Australia and its people. We could choose to remain forever tethered to that foreign country but I say, Mr Speaker, vale Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, long live King Charles III of England and bring on the republic of Australia and a treaty for its First Peoples.