CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – Australian lawmakers on Friday paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, some of whom also weighed in on the republic’s debate as she returned to parliament to observe the Queen’s death.
A vague and long-standing protocol in Australia has barred parliament from sitting for 15 days following the death of the British monarch. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese decided to follow protocol.
Albanese has previously said that he wants an Australian president to replace the British monarch as head of state, although he has avoided engaging in republican debates since the Queen’s death.
Each chamber of Australia’s parliament – the Senate and the House – on Friday passed a condolence motion for the late monarch as well as congratulated King Charles III on his accession to the throne.
Albanese said it was difficult to understand that the queen was now just a memory after her seven-decade reign.
“She was a rare and reassuring constant in the midst of rapid change,” Albanese said.
Elizabeth visited Australia 16 times during her reign.
“She knows us, appreciates us, hugs us, and the feeling was very mutual,” Albanese said.
The Prime Minister expressed his condolences to King Charles III.
“We think of King Charles, who feels the weight of this sorrow, as he bears the crown,” said Albanese. “At the beginning of her reign, we wish Her Majesty the best.”
Leader of the Opposition Peter Dutton said Australians had taken advantage of the Queen’s wisdom of words and the comfort of her voice.
“She praised the Australian specialty that honors those who go about their essential business without much fuss or media attention,” Dutton said. “But of course, wherever the Queen went, the crowd cheered, and clapped, and waved their flags to express their adoration.”
Adam Bandt, leader of the smaller Australian Greens Party, offered his condolences but reiterated his support for Australia to become a republic.
“The Queen’s departure means we’ve got a new head of state without having to say anything on the matter. It’s an opportune time to respectfully talk about whether this is right for us as a country. .
“We can express our condolences to those who are grieving them personally, as well as talking with respect to what this means to us as a people,” Bandt said.
The lawmakers also talked about the link between the monarchy and the colony.
Indigenous Australian minister Linda Burney said, “For many Indigenous Australians, the legacy of the monarchy is replete with – a complex, difficult and painful reminder of the impact of colonization.” “There has been a lot of wrestling in this week with emotion.”
She said that many indigenous people revere 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 Tredell was in Parliament to hear the tribute.