Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss has led a condolence motion in mark the passing of Nelson Mandela in the House of Representatives.

Federal parliament has paused to mark the passing of Nelson Mandela, with Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss describing him as a freedom fighter and a great man.

Leading a condolence motion in the House of Representatives, Mr Truss rose on Monday to record parliament’s “deep regret” for the former South African president’s passing.

“Madam speaker, our parliament pauses today to mark the loss of a great man, a freedom fighter who became a national healer, a prisoner who became a president,” he said ahead of question time.

“Very few leaders in human history have embodied their cause in the way that Nelson Mandela represented a free and equal South Africa.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten left Australia earlier on Monday to attend a memorial service for Mr Mandela in South Africa on Tuesday.