Australian MPs pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II as they return to parliament

·2-min read
King Charles III sits with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (PA)
King Charles III sits with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (PA)

Australian politicians have paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II as they returned to parliament from a break to observe her death.

A longstanding protocol in Australia bars parliament from sitting for 15 days following a British monarch’s death.

Both chambers of parliament – the Senate and the House – spent Friday expressing their condolences as well as congratulating King Charles III on his accession to the throne.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese praised Her Majesty for being a “rare and reassuring constant amidst rapid change”.

"She got to know us, appreciate us, embrace us, and the feeling was very much mutual," Mr Albanese said.

He also offered his condolences to King Charles III.

"We think of King Charles, who feels the weight of this sorrow, as he takes on the weight of the crown," Albanese said.

"At the dawn of his reign, we wish His Majesty well."

Mr Albanese has previously said he wants an Australian president to replace the British monarch as the nation’s head of state, although he has avoided getting entangled in the republic debate since her death.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton said Australians had drawn on the wisdom of the queen‘s words and the comfort of her voice.

"She admired that Australian trait to honor those who go about their essential business without fuss or media attention," Mr Dutton said.

"But of course, wherever the queen went, crowds choked the streets cheering, and clapping, and waving their flags to express their adoration."

Adam Bandt, leader of the small Australian Greens party, expressed his condolences but reiterated his support for Australia to become a republic.

"The queen‘s passing means that we get a new head of state without having any say in the matter. It is absolutely the appropriate time to talk respectfully about whether that is right for us as a country," he said.

"We can offer our condolences to those grieving her personally, while also talking respectfully about what it means for us as a people," Mr Bandt added.

Lawmakers also spoke about the link between the monarchy and colonisation.

"For many Indigenous Australians, the legacy of the monarchy is fraught - a complex, difficult, and painful reminder of the impact of colonization," said Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney. "This week has seen many wrestling with swirling emotions."

However, she suggested many Indigenous people still respected Elizabeth.

"The Queen‘s relationship with Indigenous Australians reflects both how far we have come and how far we still have to go," Burney said.

British High Commissioner Vicki Treadell was at parliament to hear the tributes.