Condolence motion – King of Thailand
House of Representatives
Prime Minister of Australia
The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP
I move that the House record its deep regret at the death on 13 October of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, and offer its profound sympathy to the Thai Royal Family and the people of Thailand.
For the people of Thailand this is a time of intense sadness. It is a day that they knew must come, but in their hearts they hoped never would.
To our Thai friends, we understand your deep sorrow. I acknowledge the presence here with us today of Thailand’s Ambassador to Australia, His Excellency Chirachai Punkrasin.
His Majesty—Rama IX the ninth monarch of the Chakri Dynasty—was crowned on 5 May 1950.
Just think of the extraordinary changes in our world across those seven decades - perhaps most spectacularly the economic transformation of Asia.
Through it all, His Majesty was instrumental in making Thailand the successful country it is today, providing a calm and steadying leadership despite the difficulties of political upheaval and momentous economic and social change.
Through it all, His Majesty maintained with his people that strong sense of national pride and identity.
His Majesty continued the work of his illustrious forefathers to introduce modern ideals to Thailand - he was passionate about science and what it could do to boost the living standards of his people and the Thai economy.
He was rewarded by the United Nation’s Development Programme with the first-ever Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award.
His Majesty was also a friend of Australia and we sincerely value the deep relationship between our countries which His Majesty helped foster.
In 1962, King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit visited Australia for eighteen days. The Canberra Times reported that 5000 people went to the airport to welcome Their Majesties and 7000 more lined the route from the airport to Government House. The large crowds in 1962 could be explained by the fact there were already many Thai students in Canberra under the Colombo Plan. At the welcome ceremony, the RAAF Band played works composed by the King, a keen musician and jazz aficionado.
After the visit, His Majesty wrote to the Government saying he and the Queen found heart-warming the goodwill and friendship of the Australian people. That friendly goodwill continues to this day. The Royal visit inspired the formation of the first Australia-Thailand Associations in Sydney and Melbourne. Our trade, historical, academic and people links are, today, extensive.
Of course, Thailand continues to be a beautiful and welcoming destination for Australian travellers. But let us not forget how we shared with the people of Thailand the tragic impact of the 2004 tsunami.
Twenty three Australians in Thailand lost their lives in that natural disaster. So, too, did a member of the Thai royal family. Together, we grieved that shattering loss of family and friends.
Another of the most powerful spiritual connections between our countries is the memory of Hellfire Pass, and the more than 2700 Australians who died as prisoners of war in the construction of the Thai-Burma Railway.
One of the greatest of our war heroes, Edward “Weary” Dunlop, returned to Thailand regularly and, after his death in 1993, some of his remains were consecrated in a Buddhist ceremony on the River Kwai.
His Majesty marked his great respect for Weary Dunlop only weeks before his death when bestowing on him the Knight Grand Cross (1st Class) of the Most Noble Order of the Royal Crown of Thailand. Thailand’s Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant.
At this time of national mourning, I extend to the Thai Royal Family and the people of Thailand the condolences of the Australian Government, and the sympathy of the Australian people.