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Queenโ€™s death should renew reconciliation commitment: Linda Burney

Tom McIlroyPolitical reporter

The death of Queen Elizabeth II should renew Australiaโ€™s national journey towards Indigenous reconciliation and the spur the push for a Voice to federal parliament, Linda Burney says.

Amid a full day of parliamentary tributes to the late monarch, the Indigenous Australians Minister said for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the legacy of the British Crown remains โ€œfraughtโ€.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney during a motion of condolence for Queen Elizabeth II.ย Alex Ellinghausen

She called it โ€œa complex, painful and difficult reminder of the impact of colonisationโ€ for Australiaโ€™s first inhabitants.

โ€œThis week has seen many wrestling with the swirling emotions,โ€ she told the House of Representatives. โ€œBut equally there are many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that have respect for the Queen, especially as a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.โ€

Ms Burney said the Queenโ€™s relationship with Indigenous Australians showed how far the country had come, but how far it had to go on the reconciliation journey, recalling Yorta Yorta people being hidden from view when the 1954 royal tour reached Shepparton, Victoria.

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Like milestones including the landmark 1967 referendum, the Mabo decision, land rights victories and the 2008 national apology to the Stolen Generations, Ms Burney said Australia still had much more work to do, including achieving Indigenous truth telling and a treaty.

โ€œWith each generation we make progress,โ€ she said. โ€œIt is my great hope that the years ahead bring us closer to fulfilling Australiaโ€™s greatest promise.

โ€œWith substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australiaโ€™s nationhood.โ€

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said it was possible to admire the late Queen and remain a republican.

โ€œDespite all the solemn pageantry that has served to remind us of this sad fact, it is hard to grasp that Queen Elizabeth II now belongs to the realm of memory,โ€ he told parliament.

โ€œShe was a rare and reassuring constant amidst rapid change.โ€

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He offered condolences to King Charles III, with whom the Prime Minister held talks in London before the Queenโ€™s funeral.

The new monarch feels the โ€œweight of this sorrow as he takes on the weight of the crownโ€, Mr Albanese said.

โ€œI admire King Charlesโ€™s passion and his commitment to the natural environment and sustainability. At the dawn of his reign, we wish His Majesty well.โ€

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton recalled the late Queen counselling her subjects to โ€œhave the good sense to learn from the experience of those who have gone before usโ€.

In an apparent reference to growing calls for an Australian republic, the Liberal leader said the Queen had encouraged โ€œus to โ€˜hold on to all the good that has been handed down to us in trustโ€™.โ€

He quoted her words from 1957, when she said trouble is caused by unthinking people โ€œwho carelessly throw away ageless ideals as if they were old and outworn machineryโ€.

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โ€œThey would have religion thrown aside, morality in personal and public life made meaningless, honesty counted as foolishness and self-interest set up in place of self-restraint,โ€ he said, quoting the Queen from 1990.

โ€œNowadays there are all too many causes that press their claims with a loud voice and a strong arm rather than with the language of reason.โ€

Mr Dutton later pointed to opinion polls showing a lack of public support for a republic, saying heโ€™d be happy to lead the fight for the status quo.

Greens leader Adam Bandt said constitutional reform was overdue.

โ€œNow we have a king,โ€ Mr Bandt said. โ€œWe did not elect this man. Nor did we as a people truly consent to be governed by him. We have, respectfully, unfinished business.

โ€œThe head of state of this country should be chosen by the people, for the people and from the people.

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โ€œWe should respect the civility with which Elizabeth Windsor oversaw the drawdown of what was once the British Empire and take the cue to grow up and move out.โ€

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said it was time to cut ties with Britain.

โ€œOur head of state should be one of us, an Australian,โ€ she said.

In keeping with tradition, Parliament was suspended for two weeks following the Queenโ€™s death. MPs will return to legislative business on Monday.

UK High Commissioner Vicki Treadell was a guest in the House of Representatives during the tributes.

Tom McIlroy reports from the federal press gallery at Parliament House. Connect with Tom on Twitter. Email Tom at [email protected]

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  • Royalty
  • Queen Elizabeth
  • Peter Dutton
  • Anthony Albanese

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