Australia's new PM Anthony Albanese sworn in ahead of Tokyo summit
Australia’s Labor Party leader has been sworn in as the country's 31st prime minister, before immediately flying to an international summit in Tokyo.
After nine years in opposition, Anthony Albanese's centre-left Labor Party defeated Scott Morrison's conservative coalition in an election on Saturday.
It remains unclear whether his party could form a majority government or whether it will have to rely on the support of an increased number of independents and minor party lawmakers who won seats.
“I want to lead a government that has the same sentiment of optimism and hope that I think defines the Australian people,” the 59-year-old said in his hometown of Sydney before flying to the national capital Canberra to be sworn in.
Along with Australia's new foreign minister Penny Wong, Mr Albanese flew to Tokyo for security talks with US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
All four countries belong to an informal group known as The Quad, and the summit is likely to include discussions about developments in the Indo-Pacific, notably China's increased military activity in the region.
There is mounting concern with the Chinese Navy conducting drills in the south China sea, as China intensifies its focus on Taiwan, which it claims as its own territory, and has vowed to take it back, with force if necessary.
Despite rising geopolitical tensions, Mr Albanese, who has vowed to help tackle climate change, has been keen to stress his domestic priorities, including strengthening healthcare provision and affordable childcare.
“We will return (from Japan) on Wednesday and set about implementing our agenda, our agenda that received the endorsement of the Australian people,” the new prime minister said.
Mr Biden had rang his Australian counterpart to congratulate him on his election win and express the president’s wish to make the countries’ alliance stronger, the White House said. Mr Albanese described their conversation as “very fruitful and positive”.
Earlier in the day, he was sworn in with four key cabinet members, including Ms Wong, who was born in Malaysia, so became Australia’s first foreign minister to be born overseas.
Richard Marles is the new deputy prime minister and employment minister, while Jim Chalmers became treasurer, with Katy Gallagher becoming attorney-general and finance minister.
The swearing-in of the full ministry will happen on June 1, Mr Albanese said.
While votes are still being counted, the Labor party is just short of a majority, leading in 75 seats of the 151 seat lower house.
Mr Albanese said he had the support of five unaligned lawmakers to back his administration if Labor falls short of a majority government.
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