Queen a 'rare, reassuring' constant: PM

·3-min read

Political leaders have honoured the life of Queen Elizabeth II during the first sitting of federal parliament since the monarch's death.

MPs and senators spent Friday paying tribute to the Queen and congratulating King Charles III on his accession to the throne, with condolence motions taking up the day's proceedings.

While most speeches honoured the Queen's service, some recalling personal encounters, others used their speaking time to reflect on the complicated legacy for Indigenous people or call for a republic.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said it was hard to grasp the Queen "belongs to the realm of memory" after her seven-decade reign.

"She was a rare and reassuring constant amidst rapid change," he said.

The prime minister looked back on the Queen's 16 trips to Australia. She was the only reigning monarch to visit the country.

"She got to know us, appreciate us, embrace us and the feeling was very much mutual," Mr Albanese said.

"Along the way, Her Majesty had one of the most Australian experiences of all - sitting next to Bob Hawke at the races when his horse was winning."

The prime minister also offered condolences to King Charles III.

"We think of King Charles, who feels the weight of this sorrow as he takes on the weight of the crown," he said.

"At the dawn of his reign, we wish His Majesty well."

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton paid tribute to the Queen's service and her bond with Australia.

"Most never met her, of course, but felt that (they) knew her. We draw on the wisdom of her words and on the comfort of her voice," he said.

"She admired that Australian trait to honour those who go about their essential business without fuss or media attention.

"But of course, wherever the Queen went, crowds choked the streets cheering and clapping and waving their flags to express their adoration."

Former prime minister Scott Morrison used his speech to reflect on the Queen's service and faith.

"She was a rock and a constant in so many people's lives. She was something that didn't change in a world that changed every minute of every day," he said.

Greens leader Adam Bandt passed on his condolences but reiterated his support for Australia to become a republic.

"The Queen's passing means that we get a new head of state without having any say in the matter. It is absolutely the appropriate time to talk respectfully about whether that is right for us as a country," he said.

"We can offer our condolences to those grieving her personally, while also talking respectfully about what it means for us as a people."

While assistant minister for the republic Matt Thistlethwaite also honoured the Queen in parliament, he did not refer to the republic during his speech.

Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney also reflected on the complicated emotions experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the wake of the Queen's death.

"For many Indigenous Australians, the legacy of the monarchy is fraught - a complex, difficult and painful reminder of the impact of colonisation," she told parliament.

"The Queen's relationship with Indigenous Australians reflects both how far we have come and how far we still have to go."

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young offered her condolences on behalf of the minor party and spoke about the need for reconciliation with Australia's Indigenous people.

"She did not remove children from their parents, or personally attempt to remove and decimate one of the oldest cultures in the world," she told the Senate.

"(But) she was the representative of the government in the institution that did. Generations of oppression, trauma and suffering as the result of colonisation must be reckoned with."