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Condolence motion - Death of HRH, The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Thursday 1 July 2021, Noting of Joint Address

[4.58 p.m.]

Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Madam Deputy President, the last three addresses are very hard acts to follow. They were very interesting to listen to as well as amusing.

There is very little I can say that would do justice to mark the passing of His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. I am sure Her Majesty The Queen has been in the thoughts of many over the past couple of months since the death of His Royal Highness and I, like others, have a great deal of sympathy at a human and individual level for Her Majesty, given the loss of her husband of seven decades. The father of four and the husband to our Commonwealth's Queen, His Royal Highness's life was a long one of service to our Monarch and to our Commonwealth.

I am of the belief that no matter what one's opinion is of our constitutional monarchy in Australia, that His Royal Highness's life was one of service to others. I do not believe that our Royal Family are the lofty figures that they are sometimes made out to be. It certainly sounds like that, listening to some of the stories we have already heard. I truly believe they do good work for our Commonwealth and make a difference in the lives of others, directly and indirectly.

Since the death of His Royal Highness, I have reflected on how I believe he made a difference to Tasmanians and in offering my condolences to Her Majesty, I wish to speak about some of these today.

One of the clearest ways in which His Royal Highness served Tasmanians was through his founding of the Duke of Edinburgh's Awards, which have been in operation in this state since 1962. This program enables young people to become empowered, to realise their full potential whilst building a brighter future. Here in Tasmania, ensuring everyone has an opportunity to participate, no matter their personal circumstances, is the organisation's ethos. Young people between the ages of 14 and 24 can structure their own unique program relating to physical recreation, skills, voluntary service and adventurous journey. In 2020 over 11 500 Australians finished one of the bronze, silver or gold awards, with over 275 000 hours of volunteering completed by participants.

Significantly, over 775 000 young Australians have participated in the awards since their inception in 1959. In February this year, Flinders Island District High School student Connor Wheatley completed his bronze award, being the first on Flinders Island to do so. What a resounding success this is for young Tasmanians, to be inspired to contribute to their communities and become better versions of themselves through service, adventure and growth. Regarding the awards, His Royal Highness has said:

Young people growing up in this modern and complicated world have many difficulties to face, and opportunities for personal achievement are often limited. At the same time, parents, teachers, voluntary organisation leaders and employers who recognise their responsibilities towards young people also have their challenges. Everyone who takes part in the Award will find an added purpose and pleasure to their lives. I am quite sure that all those who help to run it will gain that special sense of satisfaction which comes from helping others to discover hidden abilities and overcome a challenge.

These words are as true today as they have ever been, with young people facing economic uncertainties and a difficult job market. Providing them with a program that encourages self‑discovery and resilience is needed now more than ever. This is a wonderful legacy for his Royal Highness to leave. It has positively impacted the lives of thousands of young Australians.

Her Majesty and His Royal Highness first visited Tasmania in 1954. While I cannot claim to have been there at that time - the year before I was born - I know Bruce is not listening so I can safely say it; Bruce was there, as an 11-year-old Friends School student. He told me that he proudly lined up on the streets with his school to see the Queen and Prince Philip. According to The Examiner, an estimated 75 000 people lined the streets of Launceston in order to see the Queen and Prince Philip on their visit. Of course, Bruce saw it in Hobart. It was also the first time that a reigning monarch had visited Tasmania.

Her Majesty and His Royal Highness visited Launceston a number of other times, in 1970, 1977, 1981, 1988 and 2000. I note that on his last visit to Launceston, His Royal Highness was in his late 70s and was as spry as ever. As I recall, His Royal Highness enjoyed a glass of Boag's beer, brewed right there in Launceston.

Mr Valentine - You would not have been serving Cascade, would you?

Ms ARMITAGE - At some places we do, if they are the sponsor at the time, as at UTAS stadium. However, I am pleased to say he did enjoy a glass of Boag's beer. If that is not a delightful endorsement of our locally crafted beer, I do not know what is. In 1967 his Royal Highness visited the state's south, in the months after the bushfire disaster that remains one of the worst in our nation's history, with 64 people having lost their lives. There is still little that anyone can say or do in the wake of such a significant catastrophe, but I know that his visit and his thoughts to the locals in the area were very much appreciated.

Of course, I cannot offer my condolences to Her Majesty without acknowledging the personal tragedy of the loss of one's husband of 70 years. Her Majesty has described His Royal Highness as her strength and her stay for all these years. Growing together as a couple for the best part of a century, achieving milestones, creating a beautiful family and a lasting marriage are, in and of themselves, legacies to which we should all aspire. As the husband of the Head of our Commonwealth, it is undeniable that through his support to Her Majesty, he has supported us all - therefore we have all lost something.

I offer my sincerest condolences to Her Majesty The Queen, her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I acknowledge on record our sincerest gratitude for His Royal Highness's service to our Commonwealth and our Queen.


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