Radio Interview - WSFM 101.7 Jonesy and Amanda

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

BRENDAN JONES, HOST: The Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese.

AMANDA KELLER, HOST: Oh, hello, Anthony. I've been in tears all day. How are you feeling?

ANTHONY ALBANESE. PRIME MINISTER: Good morning. Well, it's been quite a shock, even though the Queen, of course, led such a long life, it was as if she would be with us forever. So when I received the call, very early this morning to expect a call from the Governor-General, and was put on a bit of notice. It was quite a shock.

KELLER: It is, isn't it? I mean, 96. As I've said, this was like a train of grief coming at us. But it's still such a shock. What's the protocol? What things, processes do you have to go through now?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, there were substantial processes during the evening and there is processes established, including we have set up a condolence book in Parliament House and at Government House, and we have notified the former Prime Ministers of the sad news. There was protocol in place for a long period of time. So the Governor-General was the first to issue a statement after the Royal Family and the Palace. And then I was to issue a statement an hour later. Then we both had statements, video televised statements as well, but the Governor-General to be first of course. Today, there's a range of procedures being put in place. I write to King Charles III, as he will be known, expressing the nation's condolence. We have some other procedures, I have to write to the presiding officers because of the period of mourning, putting off Parliament which won't return next week. Tomorrow we have a wreath laying at Queen's Terrace in Parliament House and then on Sunday, this hasn't been confirmed yet, but we will have the proclamation of our new Head of State after an Executive Council meeting, at Government House. So there's a range of measures kicking. But today is mainly, I think, really for us to just celebrate a life well lived, a life of devotion to duty, family, faith and service. I believe that Queen Elizabeth was respected by all for the extraordinary devotion that she showed to duty.

JONES: I can only imagine the amount of paperwork just even in changing stuff like from coins to commemorative plates to pictures in Scout halls.

PRIME MINISTER: Coins will change. I'm advised, that's one of the advices that I've got, will change from 2023. So from next year, there are a range of measures of course have been put in place for some time. But at the same time, it was as if the Queen would continue to reign forever. She was a constant in all of our lives. She was the only monarch who we have known, the people in on this conversation of course, and the fact that she reigned for 70 years. Our Federation is only 121 years old. So for a clear, overwhelming majority of that Queen Elizabeth has been the Head of State.

KELLER: Extraordinary. Did you meet the Queen?

PRIME MINISTER: I did. I travelled to London for the first G20 meeting of the twenty largest economies in the world, during the Global Financial Crisis, the first meeting that was held and the Queen and the Royal Family held a reception at Buckingham Palace. She was delightful to meet, she made sure that after the formal line-up and handshakes and curtsies were undertaken in the informal reception, she made sure that she said hello to every single person who was there. I think there were three people from each country, so that's 60 people that she gave time to. One of the things that really warmed people to Queen Elizabeth was the way that she would engage with not just world leaders, but members of the community. In her many visits to Australia, she was of course the first monarch to visit Australia, way back in 1954. On that occasion, 7 million Australians out of a population of 10 million, went out there to try to see her which just says something about the affection that she was held in and people wanted to get a glimpse of the Queen. And she visited during that tour, I think it was 58 days or thereabouts, and she visited the same number of towns and cities during that period. So it wasn't just the capital cities, it was right around the country, every state and territory.

KELLER: She worked hard, didn't she?

PRIME MINISTER: She certainly did work very, very hard, and she worked right up until the end, with of course, the United Kingdom have a new Prime Minister, there in Liz Truss. The 15th Prime Minister who has served under Queen Elizabeth.

KELLER: Amazing, isn't it, Winston Churchill was the first.

JONES: It's almost like that movie Highlander, we don't know any different. It's the constant that Queen Elizabeth has been there for everyone. Whether you're a Monarchist or a Republican, you appreciate that legacy.

PRIME MINISTER: That's exactly right. This is above politics. She can be respected for who she was, and for that sense of devotion that she had, is worthy of incredible admiration. During the period there were 15 British Prime Ministers, but 16 Australian Prime Ministers and 16 Governors-General. The world that we live in, as we know sometimes express some frustration with because it's so fast changing and the one constant in global affairs has been the reign of Queen Elizabeth for those seven long decades.

KELLER: Will you be heading to England?

PRIME MINISTER: Yes, the protocol is that myself and the Governor-General will represent Australia. There'll be a whole series of protocols in place. This afternoon, at 5pm, there is what is formally known as a death salute to the Monarch that will occur here in the outside of Parliament House in Canberra, and around the lake. 96 rounds, one for every year of Queen Elizabeth's long life.

JONES: Jeepers better warn the residence around there.

PRIME MINISTER: Well I'm advised it will go for 16 minutes.

KELLER: Wow, that's a lot.

PRIME MINISTER: It is. But there's a whole series of protocols that come in now and there is something to be said for tradition.

KELLER: Absolutely and ritual and protocols. I think so too. And I think it's that's part of the stability that, that provides.

JONES: Well, Prime Minister, you've got a lot of paperwork to do. Good luck with the condolence letters and have a safe flight.

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you very much.

JONES: Nice to talk to you. Thank you very much.