In his first international interview since the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has told Sky News he will not hold a referendum on whether Australia should become a republic in his first term.
Now is a moment to show gratitude for the Queen‘s “service to Australia, the Commonwealth and the world”, he said.
The Queen’s death has reignited a debate about the country’s relationship with the monarchy and Mr Albanese has previously stated that the country needs an Australian head of state.
Watch Sky News live from 10am as a cortege takes the Queen’s coffin from Balmoral to Edinburgh
But this period is a “time to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II” and to show “deep respect and admiration”, not to pursue “questions about our constitution”, he said.
The prime minister paid tribute to the Queen, saying she stood with Australia during the good times and bad.
“I think the Queen was with Australians during times of celebration – the opening of this house, Parliament House, in 1988, the opening of the Sydney Opera House during our great historic events, but was also with Australia at times of difficulties,” he said.
“This is a land of cyclones, of floods, of natural disasters, and Queen Elizabeth always reached out to give that comfort to Australians at our time of need.
“She was such a respected figure, regardless of where people stand on the political spectrum. That 70 years of public service, that devotion to duty, is something that holds her in in such high regard.”
Australians have said part of the success of the Queen’s reign was in her ability to stay politically neutral about Australia.
Mr Albanese said he was sure King Charles III would also be “very conscious of the need to stay above politics”.
The prime minister continued: “He’s someone who has a deep relationship with Australia. I hope that he is able to visit here on an occasion as soon as as possible.
“This, of course, is a substantial change. The only monarch that we have known in my lifetime and in the lifetime of most Australians has been Queen Elizabeth.”
Asked whether Australians want to see the institution of the monarchy evolve, Mr Albanese said: “It has evolved and it will continue to evolve. It will need to continue to move with the times.
“But the bigger questions about our constitution are not ones for this current period. This is a period in which we are sharing the grief that so many Australians are feeling at the moment, showing our deep respect and admiration for the contribution of the Queen to Australia.
“It’s a sad time. There’s also a time to celebrate what is a long life, well lived.”
The Queen reigned during a period “which has seen more change than any era in human history”, he said. “The nature of technology and the way that it’s transformed the way that our society functions, Queen Elizabeth was able to change with that that times in terms of her interactions with the public. And King Charles will, I’m sure, do the same.”
Today marked the formal proclamation of the accession of King Charles as King of Australia in a ceremony in the country’s capital, Canberra.
Mr Albanese will travel to London to attend the Queen’s funeral and meet with the new King.
And Australia will also hold a public holiday to mark her death, to take place on 22 September, following his return from the UK.
“I think it’s important that we commemorate the remarkable life and indeed the service that Queen Elizabeth gave to Australia as our head of state, for 70 years, the longest serving British monarch ever,” he said. “But also [there is] a great deal of affection from Australians towards the Queen.”