Radio Interview - 6PR Breakfast with Gareth Parker

09 Sep 2022
Prime Minister
Death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Gareth on what is a very sad day, but also a day to celebrate what was a historic reign of 70 years and a long life well lived.

GARETH PARKER, HOST: Well said. Anthony Albanese, how did you find out the news? I'm sure there's enormous protocol around this. When did you first find out that her Majesty had passed?

PRIME MINISTER: There is protocol involved in this. I found out in the early hours of this morning. I was notified that I was to receive a call from the Governor-General, and I spoke to His Excellency, in the early hours before the public announcement. Then the protocols were the Governor-General was the first to issue a statement and I was to issue a statement around about an hour later, which we both did. The Governor-General was in Adelaide, he's on his way back here to Canberra where I am this morning, and then the Governor-General was to do the public statement, which he did, a recorded message. And then I followed that up just after 6am. So it's been a long evening putting in place the measures that will be in place as part of what will be a 10 day period of mourning.

PARKER: You and the Governor-General will travel to London as part of that 10 day period of mourning. Is that correct?

PRIME MINISTER: That's correct. We'll go on day four. There are a series of commemorations, both of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, the opportunity to farewell and to pay tribute to her. But also, of course, King Charles becoming the Head of State of Australia.

PARKER: What are other key elements of this 10 day period of mourning, Prime Minister? I appreciate some details that yet to be worked out, but is there more that you can share with us about what will come over the coming days?

PRIME MINISTER: Well there will be a series of opportunities for Australians to pay tribute at offices of the Government but also of the Governor-General and Governors in States as well. A condolence book will be made available in the Government House here in Canberra from 8am this morning, and I should imagine that the WA Governor will have similar protocols put in place. There's a series of commemorations as well, tributes including of course, flags are flying at half-mast. It will be an opportunity for Australians to express our grief, but also to express our thanks to the only monarch who most of us have known throughout our whole life. It is quite remarkable to think that our nation as a federation is just 121 years old, and for 70 of those 121 years, Queen Elizabeth has reigned. An extraordinary contribution to the United Kingdom but also to the Commonwealth, a life of devotion to duty to family to faith and to service. Someone who is admired throughout the world and the extraordinary contribution that she has made.

PARKER: Indeed. In the address that you spoke of, we took it live here on 6PR at about just after 4.30am Perth time, and I thought that the fact that you relayed in that speech, that on her first visit here in 1954, an estimated 70% of the Australian population turned out, isn't that incredible?

PRIME MINISTER: It is incredible. If it was today people would be watching it on Facebook or online. But it was a time where people came together and they wanted to see her. They wanted a glimpse of this Princess who became a Queen just eight months earlier, and it is quite remarkable. My mother used to tell me the story that she was one of those 7 million people as a young woman who wanted to see the Queen, and the whole of Australia clearly embraced that visit. One of the things about Queen Elizabeth is that she was able to meet with heads of state and indeed, of course, was an adviser to Winston Churchill and every Prime Minister who came after, to sixteen Australian Prime Ministers, sixteen Governors-General during her reign. She was a constant in that era of change. We're living in the fastest changing world in human history. But she provided a sense of reassurance, I think, for people that she was there, which is why, even though she had lived such a long life, it's still come as quite a shock that she has passed.

PARKER: Prime Minister, this isn't the day for politics, but it is a fact that you appointed on your election a Minister for advancing the Republican cause. Do you expect Australians to embrace King Charles III? And what does the passing of Queen Elizabeth mean for your Republican agenda?

PRIME MINISTER: Today is not a day for anything other than to pay tribute to Her Majesty and her contribution, and to pass on the respect of all Australians. All Australians respected her. I had the opportunity to meet Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace at the first G20 meeting that was held in London during the Global Financial Crisis, and she was a remarkable person. She was so resilient, so devoted, but also had incredible humour and was warm and engaging as well, and it was a great honour to meet her, and today's the day to pay tribute to her.

PARKER: And that's absolutely fair enough, and I think that is the correct answer, if I might say so Prime Minister, it will be a significant day, it will be a significant period of mourning. You need not be a monarchist, or a royalist to admire this woman. Do you agree that it is her sense of duty, above all else herself sense of self-sacrifice that made her so admired here in Australia and around the world?

PRIME MINISTER: Oh, absolutely. She was there when Australia celebrated. But she was also there when we went through difficult times. We're a country that does go through difficult times with bushfires and floods and cyclones and these events. Throughout it all, Queen Elizabeth was a constant source of comfort and solace for people, and that is why she was admired as having an extraordinary contribution. She was a great figure who will be remembered in history for centuries as the longest ever reign of a British monarch, but the second longest reign in our history it's quite a remarkable life to do that, at such a turbulent time. Where everything it seems changes, but Queen Elizabeth was always there, and I think was universally admired and respected. I think also, if you look at the comfort that she gave people, she was respected so much for her contribution and her devotion to duty, to her family, to her nation, and to the Commonwealth.

PARKER: Hear hear. Anthony Albanese, I know that this is an extremely busy day for you as indeed the coming days will be, I very much appreciate it and listeners appreciate you spending some time with us this morning.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks very much Gareth.

PARKER: The Prime Minister of Australia Anthony Albanese on 6PR Breakfast.