Anthony Albanese, the leader of Australia’s Labor Party, was sworn in as the country’s 31st prime minister on Monday, promising to unite the country following a tumultuous election campaign while also pledging to address climate change and inequality.
A surge of historic support for the Greens and climate-focused independents, largely women, helped Labor reclaim power after nine years in opposition in Saturday’s general election, unseating the conservative government.
“I look forward to running a government that makes Australians proud, a government that doesn’t attempt to divide, that doesn’t seek to create wedges, but instead strives to bring people together,” Albanese said during his first press conference after assuming office.
Albanese was sworn in by Governor-General David Hurley at a ceremony in the national capital, Canberra, to attend a meeting of the “Quad” security grouping in Tokyo on Tuesday, despite the fact that ballots are still being counted and the form of government has not to be decided.
The Quad, which includes India, the United States, Japan, and Australia, has been promoted by Washington as a potential bulwark against China’s growing political, commercial, and military presence in the Indo-Pacific.
Prior to the meeting with US President Joe Biden and the prime ministers of Japan and India, Albanese stated the country’s relationship with China would remain “tough.”
Richard Marles, the Deputy Labor Leader, and three important ministers – Penny Wong, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Jim Chalmers, the Treasurer, and Katy Gallagher, the Finance Minister – were also sworn in, with Wong joining Albanese on the Quad tour.
Albanese’s working-class background – he was reared in public housing by a single mother on a disability income – and reputation as a pragmatic unifier were prominently emphasized in Labor’s campaign.
Centre-left According to the Australian Electoral Commission, Labor holds 76 seats in the 151-seat lower house, with a few contests too close to call. As postal ballots were being counted, it appeared that Independents or the Green Party would gain more than a dozen seats.
Monique Ryan, an independent from Melbourne’s Kooyong, claimed climate change was the most significant concern for her constituents, something outgoing Treasurer Josh Frydenberg publicly admitted on Monday.
“We listened to what people wanted, to their beliefs and ambitions, and we built a platform that mirrored that,” Ryan explained.
Albanese expressed optimism that Labor would obtain enough seats to govern on its own, but noted that he had reached deals with certain independents not to vote no-confidence resolutions against his administration.
Albanese said he will move quickly after returning from Japan to carry out his election pledges, such as establishing a national anti-corruption commission and a A$15 billion ($10.6 billion) manufacturing fund to diversify Australia’s economy.
He stated that the complete ministry will be sworn in on June 1.
The election result on Monday elicited a quiet reaction from Australian financial markets, with the results fully priced in and no major changes in the economy envisaged.
“Despite the change in national leadership, our economic predictions and call on the (Reserve Bank of Australia) remain intact,” Commonwealth Bank of Australia economists stated.