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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (9 April) . . Page.. 789 ..

MRS DUNNE (continuing):

she was able to say, as the Leader of the Opposition has already said, "I can now look the East End in the eye."

When the King died in 1952 and her daughter became Queen, the Queen Mother was there to help, and help she did, throwing herself into public life with both dedication and enthusiasm. Even in her 80s, she was still carrying out a punishing workload. In 1982, for example, the Queen Mother made 63 official visits in Britain, attended 29 receptions, presided over two Privy Council meetings, attended 15 audiences to diplomats and visited two overseas countries. An opinion poll found that she still rated the best member of the royal family for public duties. Even by her 90th birthday, the tempo of her engagements had, according to the palace, not slowed down at all.

But it was her common touch that endeared her to the people. Behind those sparkling eyes was-dare one say it-a rather raffish sense of humour. That was best exemplified in an account of the late Larry Adler, the celebrated harmonica player, who was surprised after a performance to be asked whether he would like to meet the Queen Mother. He said that he would and, to his delight, she was brought backstage. The Queen Mother duly arrived and they chatted and shared a pot of tea. Seeing a harmonica on the table, the Queen Mother asked whether she could have a closer look at it and he handed it to her. "Now," she said with a grin, "I will be able to go back to the palace and say that I have touched Larry Adler's organ."

She was a gracious lady and she set an unswerving standard for all of us in public life to aspire to. She would have seen as her own most important message the advice she gave to students as chancellor of London University and on innumerable other platforms: "Do not, in today's tumult, lose sight of the ancient virtues of service, truth and vision." She taught that message best to herself. As her biographer, Dorothy Laird, said, she managed to bring private affection into public life.

MR PRATT: I wish to express my deep sadness at the passing of a great lady, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, who, members may remember, visited Canberra as a young woman, the wife of the then Duke of York, the future George VI. Let us remember her as the young Queen and mother of two young daughters who refused to leave her home despite the best-or worst-efforts of the German bombers. Let us remember that she stubbornly remained there in an expression of solidarity with eastern Londoners facing the wrath of the bombing.

I remember the Queen Mum as belonging to that very inspirational generation-one represented right across the Commonwealth-from which we continue today, and should always, to draw great lessons. She was a woman of steel-edged strength and courage, charm and compassion who cared greatly for her community.

Today, Australia will be represented not only by the Prime Minister, Mr Howard, but also by members of the Australian Army Medical Corps, who will be part of the funeral cortege for the Queen Mother. This, quite rightly, expresses the warm traditional links that this country still holds with the royal family. The Queen Mother epitomised the much loved national figure who sits separately from the political institutions of a country. We will never forget her.

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