Anthony Albanese will fly to Tokyo on Monday to attend the Quad leaders’ meeting, just hours after being sworn in as Australia’s new prime minister and warned that relations with China will remain “difficult”.
Labor defeated the coalition government led by Scott Morrison on Saturday. It is not yet known whether the Labor Party, led by Albanese, will achieve the 76-seat majority needed to govern in its own right.
In his first press conference as prime minister, Albanese said he had received a supply guarantee from independent MPs and minor parties to ensure he could govern whatever the outcome .
The 59-year-old said he and a small caretaker ministry – including new foreign minister Penny Wong, who will travel with Albanese to Tokyo – were quickly sworn in to ensure Australia could participate in bilateral meetings with US President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
“The meetings that we will have, not only with the United States but especially with our hosts in Japan and India, are going to be very important, in a good way, to send a message to the world that there is a new government in Australia,” Albenese told reporters.
“This is a government that represents change, in how we treat the world on issues like climate change, but also continuity in how we respect democracy and how we value our friendships and alliances. for a long time.”
Albanese said Australia’s relationship with China, which has soured in recent years, “will remain difficult”, but signaled his government would take a less aggressive approach to pursuing Australia’s national interest.
“It was China that changed, not Australia, and Australia should always stand up for our values, and we will in a government that I lead,” he said.
It is only the fourth time in Australian history that Labor has won the opposition government, and the first time that victory has been far from a categorical one.
The result comes despite a swing by both major parties towards independent candidates and the Australian Greens, who have both campaigned for stronger targets to reduce global warming.
Albanese gave his press conference on Monday in front of not only the Australian flag, but also the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags. It was a small change that marked his government’s commitment to seek constitutional change in line with recommendations presented at a national summit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in 2017.
Calling for a referendum to change Australia’s constitution to enshrine an Indigenous voice in parliament was the first pledge Albanese made in his victory speech on Saturday night.
New Labor Indigenous Affairs Minister Wiradjuri Linda Burney said the reform would “change the face of this country” and help Australia “grow” as a nation.
Votes are still counted across Australia. Some Tory MPs refused to concede their seats until postal votes, higher than usual due to Covid-19, had also been tallied.
On Monday, it emerged that independent candidates targeting the Conservative Liberal Party’s affluent inner city on a policy of climate action, political integrity and gender equality had won five Coalition seats in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth . They also won the seat of Kooyong, held by former Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
Western Australia, a state that traditionally held more Liberal-voting seats, recorded a 10.7% swing to Labor, boosted by the popularity of its Labor premier, Mark McGowan.
And Queensland, the state that awarded Morrison the win in 2019, voted overwhelmingly for the Australian Greens, earning them the new nickname ‘Greensland’. The minor party won two seats in Brisbane city center – ousting the woman who would have been Albanese’s environment minister – to have three MPs in the lower house of parliament. He is also on track for a record vote in the Senate.
Morrison resigned as leader of the Liberal Party after conceding the election to Albanese on Saturday night. His post will likely be taken over by former Home Secretary Peter Dutton.