World leaders are travelling to South Africa for Nelson Mandela's funeral service. Photo: AFP
Prime Minister Tony Abbott will join other world leaders in South Africa this week for the funeral service for Nelson Mandela.
Mr Abbott said on Saturday he would ask Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to accompany him at the memorial service for the anti-apartheid leader at Johannesburg stadium on Tuesday.
"To represent the Australian people, I will be attending the memorial service for His Excellency Nelson Mandela this week in Johannesburg," Mr Abbott said in a statement.
‘‘There is a long bipartisan history of Australian support for South Africa and the campaign to abolish apartheid."
Mr Mandela died on Friday morning, Australian time, aged 95.
His body will lie in state at government buildings in the capital Pretoria from Wednesday until a burial at his rural home in Qunu the following Sunday.
Mr Abbott said he had instructed that Australian Government flags be flown at half mast on the day of the official memorial.
"We honour a truly great world leader, an extraordinary man and an Honorary Companion of the Order of Australia," he said.
But some Labor MPs have questioned the government’s decision not to lower flags at the time the world learned of Mr Mandela’s death.
‘‘A small but powerful gesture for one of the greatest men of our time. Let’s #lowertheflag,’’ deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek tweeted on Friday night.
Party colleague Tony Burke chimed in: ‘‘it’s sometimes the simplest gestures which can be the most powerful’’.
On Friday, the flags at London’s Downing Street and the White House were already at half-mast as a sign of respect.
United States President Barack Obama, who will also attend the funeral service, ordered that flags on US government buildings, ships at sea and installations be lowered to half mast through to sunset on Monday, in a rare honour for a foreign leader.
On Friday, the South African high commission in Canberra lowered its flag to half mast.
With Ross Peake, AAP