Australian lawmakers pay tribute to the Queen and discuss the republic

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australian lawmakers paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II on Friday, with some also intervening in the republican debate, after they returned to parliament after a break taken to observe the queen’s death.

An obscure and longstanding protocol in Australia prohibits Parliament from sitting for 15 days after the death of a British monarch. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese decided to follow protocol.

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

Each chamber of Australia’s parliament – the Senate and the House – spent Friday passing motions of condolence for the late monarch and congratulating King Charles III on his accession to the throne.

Albanese said it was hard to fathom the queen was just a memory after her seven-decade reign.

“She was a rare and reassuring constant in the midst of rapid change,” Albanese said.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton speaking on a motion of condolence in the House of Representatives in Parliament on September 23.

Mick Tsikas/AAP Image via AP

Elizabeth visited Australia 16 times during her reign.

“She got to know us, like us, embrace us and the feeling was very mutual,” Albanese said.

The Prime Minister offered his condolences to King Charles III.

“We think of King Charles, who feels the weight of this grief, as he takes on the weight of the crown,” Albanese said. “At the dawn of his reign, we wish his Majesty good luck.”

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said Australians had benefited from the wisdom of the Queen’s words and the comfort of her voice.

“She admired that Australian trait of honoring those who go about their essential business without making a fuss or attracting media attention,” Dutton said. “But of course everywhere the Queen went, crowds choked the streets cheering, 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 becoming a republic.

“The Queen’s passing means we have a new head of state with no say in the matter. This is absolutely an appropriate time to speak respectfully about whether this is right for us as a country,” he said.

“We can offer our condolences to those who mourn her personally, while respectfully speaking about what this means to us as a people,” Bandt added.

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

“For many Indigenous Australians, the legacy of the monarchy is heavy – a complex, difficult and painful reminder of the impact of colonisation,” said Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney. “This week has seen many struggles with swirling emotions.”

She said many indigenous people respected Elizabeth.

“The Queen’s relationship with Indigenous Australians reflects both how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go,” Burney said.

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


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