Just hours after being inaugurated in as Australia’s new prime minister, Anthony Albanese will fly to Tokyo on Monday to attend the Quad leaders’ conference, warning that relations with China will remain “tough.”
On Saturday, the Labor Party defeated Scott Morrison’s Coalition government. It is unclear whether Albanese’s Labor Party will be able to secure the 76-seat majority required to rule on its own.
Albanese stated he had acquired a guarantee of supply from independent and minor party MPs in his first press conference as prime minister, ensuring he could govern regardless of the vote.
The 59-year-old said he and a small interim ministry – including new foreign minister Penny Wong, who will accompany Albanese to Tokyo – were sworn in quickly to ensure Australia could attend bilateral meetings with US President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
“It’s a government that reflects a shift in the way we interact with the world on problems like climate change, but also a continuity in the way we respect democracy and appreciate our friendships and long-standing partnerships,” says the president.
Albanese acknowledged that Australia’s relationship with China, which has deteriorated in recent years, “would remain challenging,” but indicated that his government will be less forceful in pursuing Australia’s national interests.
“China has changed, not Australia,” he continued, “and Australia should always stand up for our values, which we will do under a government led by me.”
Labor has only won government from opposition four times in Australia’s history, and this is the first time that triumph has been less than resounding.
Anthony Albanese, the Labor Party’s leader, celebrates with Penny Wong, the Labor Senate Leader, during a Labor Party celebration.
Despite a shift away from both main parties, independent candidates and the Australian Greens, who both advocated for tougher global warming targets, the result was achieved.
On Monday, Albanese held a press conference in front of the Australian flag, as well as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags.