CANBERRA, Australia >> Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said King Charles III continuing to advocate for action on climate change in his new apolitical role as monarch would be “perfectly acceptable”.
Albanese was speaking ahead of the scheduled departure of an Australian delegation from Sydney on Thursday for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.
Albanese said the new king would decide if he continued to advocate for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, as he had done for years as a prince.
“It is important that the monarchy move away from partisan political issues. But there are issues like climate change that I think if he chooses to continue making statements in that area, I think that’s perfectly acceptable,” Albanese told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
“It should be something that is above politics, the need to act on climate change,” Albanese added.
The new centre-left Albanese Labor government has enshrined in law a target to cut Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 42% below 2005 levels by the end of the decade .
Under the previous Conservative government, Australia was branded a laggard on climate action on its target to cut emissions by just 26% to 28% by 2030.
Australia said it was helping officials from the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, Samoa and an unnamed fifth British Commonwealth country in the Oceania region travel to London to Monday’s funeral.
But these officials are not flying on the same Royal Australian Air Force aircraft as Albanese, his partner Jodie Haydon, Governor General David Hurley and his wife Linda Hurley. They are joined by 10 so-called ‘everyday Australians’, including racehorse trainer Chris Waller and wheelchair tennis star Dylan Alcott, who have been invited by Buckingham Palace.
Horse trainer Gai Waterhouse and her bookmaker husband Robbie Waterhouse, who are also guests at the Palace, are also flying with the Prime Minister as they alerted Albanese’s office on Wednesday that they could not book a commercial flight due to strong demand.
The Australian government has not released details of how it helps leaders from neighboring islands get to London.
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape and Governor General Bob Dadae, who represents the monarch, arrived in London on Wednesday, the Papua New Guinea government announced.
The Solomons will be represented by their Governor General David Vunagi, who left the country on Wednesday, the government said.
Tuvalu will be represented by Prime Minister Kausea Natanopo and Governor General Tofiga Vaevalu Falani. Samoa’s head of state, Afioga Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II, will also attend, government officials said.
The Albanese government wants an Australian president to replace the British monarch as Australian head of state.
But Albanese said holding a referendum on creating an Australian republic was “not feasible” during his government’s first three-year term. His priority was a referendum that would recognize in the constitution that Indigenous peoples lived in Australia before the arrival of British settlers in 1788.
“Regardless of people’s views on other issues – the constitution and our system of government – I think it is impossible not to respect the extraordinary work and devotion to service shown by Her Majesty,” said declared Albanian.
Albanese arranged a meeting with the King, British Prime Minister Liz Truss and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over the weekend before the funeral.
A referendum in 1999 that would have replaced the Queen with an Australian head of state failed.