Mr HUSIC (Chifley—Government Whip) (16:38): I have to say it was good in the past year to have a number of visitors to this country and, obviously, pre-eminently the visit of Her Majesty was certainly something to be proud of and very pleased to be associated with. She is, as has been reflected by the member for Wide Bay, a witness to great moments in history and has provided great stability over the course of her reign and her heading up of the Commonwealth.
I want to place on the record also my commendation for what will be done to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee, while the Prime Minister outlined yesterday. It is worth noting that the government will recognise the Diamond Jubilee through the lighting of a jubilee beacon on Parliament House in June; Australia Post will issue a jubilee stamp; the Royal Mint will issue a jubilee coin, and an east-west road in the Parliamentary Zone will be renamed Queen Elizabeth Terrace. I was particularly pleased to hear that a scholarship focused on women’s leadership will be established. In particular, it is worth noting that Her Majesty has been an outstanding international statesperson who has, in her own deft way, been able to guide the affairs of the Commonwealth. It is good that we have a scholarship that will be focused on women’s leadership. There will also be a jubilee essay competition. This is on top of some of the other events and initiatives that the Prime Minister outlined yesterday, including the establishment of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust.
Whilst I do note my admiration for Her Majesty’s role, I think at some point it is worth us beginning a discussion again about the future chapters that need to be opened up in terms of our nation’s history, recognising the great role played by the monarchy but also recognising that we can have a future in which a person born in this country can ultimately become the head of state, that an independent Australia, a republic, can be established. Whilst I have the greatest admiration for Her Majesty, I have the highest aspiration for our nation. The highest aspiration should be that we, at some point, establish this nation as a republic with its own head of state. I am proud that we have been able, through the course of the last day, to recognise the achievements of Sir Zelman Cowen and recognise too that we have had Governors-General who have contributed in great ways to the development of this nation. I quoted in my inaugural speech to parliament the words of Sir William Deane, another Governor-General who I have huge admiration for. But ultimately we should be prepared to have a mature discussion about the next chapter that we can open for our great country.
I think that, as much as we celebrate the Diamond Jubilee, we should also be prepared at some point to open up the discussions. There has never been a perfect time to do it, but I think that time is well and truly due. We had the referendum in 1999 and its outcome has been respected. That was the will of the Australian public at that point in time. But there is nothing holding us back from being able to imagine a different future, an independent future, one where an Australian head of state is able to rightly take their place in a republic. I wish to conclude my remarks by indicating that we have spread out a range of initiatives to recognise and commemorate the Diamond Jubilee, but I also hope that we may look ahead to the other chapters that can be opened up for our great nation.