Melbourne: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott today left for South Africa to attend a memorial service in honour of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.
The Leader of Opposition, Bill Shorten, also left this morning for Johannesburg to attend the service to be held tomorrow at a soccer stadium where Mandela made his last public speech in 2010.
The two leaders will be attending one of the largest such gatherings in generations, along with other foreign leaders.
Before departing from Canberra airport, Abbott said he was honoured to be attending Mandela`s memorial service.
"Nelson Mandela was one of the great figures of the last century," he said.
The funeral of Mandela at his ancestral home of Qunu on December 15 is expected to be larger than that of Princess Diana, Michael Jackson and Pope John Paul II combined.