Australia’s Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese has been sworn in as the country’s 31st prime minister, promising a “journey of change” as he vowed to tackle climate change, rising living costs and inequality.
Th centre-left Labor Party is retaking power after nine years in opposition as a wave of unprecedented support for the Greens and climate-focused independents helped end nearly a decade of rule by the conservative Liberal-National coalition in Saturday’s general election.
While votes are still being counted and the make-up of government has yet to be finalised, Mr Albanese was sworn in so he could attend the Quad leaders summit in Tokyo on Tuesday, with US president Joe Biden, Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi.
The Quad summit is aimed at enhancing co-operation among the four member nations of the group and discussing notable developments in the Indo-Pacific region.
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Mr Albanese, 59, was sworn in by governor general David Hurley at a ceremony in Canberra.
“It’s a big day in my life but a big day for the country, when we change the government,” Mr Albanese told reporters outside his Sydney home ahead of the ceremony.
“I want to channel the opportunity that we have to shape change so that we bring people with us on the journey of change. I want to bring the country together.”
Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles and three key ministers – Penny Wong in foreign affairs, Jim Chalmers as treasurer and Katy Gallagher in finance – were also sworn in, with Ms Wong to join Mr Albanese on the Quad trip.
Mr Albanese also said he spoke to President Biden on Sunday night and was looking forward to meeting him on Tuesday. He will return to Australia on Wednesday.
“This visit aligns with what the Albanese government sees as the three pillars of Australia’s foreign policy: our alliance with the United States, our engagement with the region, and our support for multilateral forums,” Mr Albanese said in a statement.
Labor’s election campaign focused on Mr Albanese’s working-class credentials and his image as a pragmatic unifier.
Centre-left Labor still remains four seats short of a majority of 76 in the 151 seat lower house with about a dozen races too close to call, according to television channels.
Some predicted Labor might get enough seats to govern on their own.
Official results could be several days away, with the counting of 2.7 million postal votes under way on Sunday.