Television interview - Sunrise, Channel 7

12 Sep 2022
Prime Minister
Commemorating the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth; National Day of Mourning

NATALIE BARR, HOST: World leaders, Heads of State and dignitaries will head to London for Queen Elizabeth’s funeral next week and amongst them will be very own Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese.

DAVID KOCH, HOST: He's also announced a public holiday to mark the Queen's passing. It'll be held on Thursday, 22 September.

BARR: Prime Minister Anthony Albanese joins us now from Canberra. Good morning to you.


BARR: You've announced a public holiday for next week. Why was that important to you?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, this is a matter of protocols that I discussed with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet but also with all of the State Premiers and Chief Ministers. It is a part of the protocol that's been in place for a long period of time would be that the National Memorial Service would be held the day after the Governor-General and myself returned from London. We will return next Wednesday night so the National Memorial Service will be here in the Great Hall of Parliament House on Thursday, and we regarded it as appropriate that this be observed as a National Day of Mourning. It is, of course, 70 years that we have had Queen Elizabeth as our monarch and it is important to mark that as a day of respect.

KOCH: Prime Minister, there has been an enormous show of affection and emotion for the Queen. Have you been surprised by that, just how much emotion has been involved? The closeness that Australians seem to have to Her Majesty?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, this has been a time of grieving but also there has been that sense of gratefulness, of a life well-lived, a life of service and quite clearly, over a long period of time, over generations indeed, that affection for the Queen was there. I recall my late grandfather and grandmother, their regard for the Queen with her visits to Australia and I think that is something that has gone down the generations and that's why we can see young people, as well as older people who have lived their lives alongside Queen Elizabeth, expressing gratitude but also grieving and mourning her loss.

BARR: Exactly. With anything new, people are curious, they’re not sure how things are going to work, so talk us through how this new public holiday will work on the 22nd? People are asking questions, whether businesses will have to pay penalty rates, are schools going to be closed?

PRIME MINISTER: Those issues will be worked through with the States and Territories. I have written to the Premiers and Chief Ministers yesterday but I spoke to them personally on Saturday. Of course, things do open, essential services do open on public holidays and it is the case that penalty rates apply on public holidays. This is a one-off occasion, this is historic, yourself and Kochie have made the trip to London as have other media outlets. We will have other Australians, of course, making their way to London as well but Australians as well, observing the loss of Queen Elizabeth in their own way around towns and cities right around our great nation. The National Day of Mourning provides an opportunity for local government, for example, to organise events in their local communities, because one of the things about the Queen is that on her first visit, she was here for almost 60 days, and visited almost 60 cities and towns during that period. She was someone who didn't just go to Sydney and Melbourne, she went to regional communities, remote communities, and had engagement with them and that's why I think it is appropriate that local communities organise commemorative events as well as the National Memorial Service that will take place at 11AM on Thursday the 22nd.

KOCH: So what you are saying is it's just like any other public holiday. Schools will be closed, penalty rates will apply, there will be public holiday timetables for essential services and the like?

PRIME MINISTER: That's right, but services that have been in place, of course, given the nature of it, I've seen statements about the notice given, of course that's the very nature of what is a once-in-my-lifetime event and, therefore, we gave as much notice as possible, which is why I spoke to the Premiers and Chief Ministers on Saturday and why we made the announcement on Sunday. The fact is as well, I have been, to go to an early question, it has been very touching how many Australians have attended events, not just here in Canberra yesterday with the proclamation of King Charles III but right around the nation there have been very large gatherings. This is a historic event that is touching many Australians and that Australians want to participate in.

KOCH: Absolutely. Well, safe travels over here, hopefully we can catch up for a chat when you are here for the funeral but Prime Minister, thanks for joining us.