Australia’s new PM flags ‘difficult’ China ties as he heads to Tokyo for Quad meeting | Australia news

Anthony Albanese will fly to Tokyo on Monday to participate in the Quad leaders’ meeting, just hours after being sworn in as the new Australian prime minister, and warned that relations with China would remain “difficult”.

The Labor party defeated the Coalition government, led by Scott Morrison, on Saturday. It is not yet known whether the Labor party, which Albanese leads, will reach 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 guarantee of supply from independent and minor party MPs to ensure he could govern no matter the outcome.

The 59-year-old said he and a small interim ministry – including the new foreign minister, Penny Wong, who will travel with Albanese to Tokyo – had been quickly sworn in to ensure Australia could participate in the bilateral meetings with the US president, Joe Biden, the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, and the Japanese prime minister, Fumio Kishida.

“The meetings that we will have, not just with the United States but importantly 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’s a new government in Australia,” Albanese told reporters.

“It’s a government that represents a change, in terms of the way that we deal with the world on issues like climate change, but also a continuity in the way that we have respect for democracy and the way that we value our friendships and longtime alliances.”

Albanese said Australia’s relationship with China, which has soured in recent years, “will remain a difficult one” but signaled his government would take a less aggressive approach to pursue Australia’s national interest.

“It is China that has changed, not Australia, and Australia should always stand up for our values, and we will do so in a government that I lead,” he said.

It is only the fourth time in Australia’s history that Labor has won government from the opposition, and the first time that victory has been less than emphatic.

The result comes despite a swing away from both major parties towards independent candidates and the Australian Greens, which campaigned for stronger targets to reduce global heating.

Australia news

Albanese delivered his press conference on Monday in front of the Australian flag and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags. It was a small change signaling his government’s commitment to seeking a constitutional shift in line with the recommendations put forward at a national summit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in 2017.

Albanese’s first commitment victory speech on Saturday night was seeking a referendum to change the Australian constitution to enshrine an Indigenous voice in parliament.

Labor’s incoming Indigenous affairs minister, Wiradjuri woman Linda Burney, said the reform would “change the face of this country” and help Australia “grow up” as a nation.

Votes are still being counted across Australia. Some conservative MPs have refused to concede their seat until the postal ballots, higher than usual due to Covid-19, have also been measured.

As of Monday, it appeared that independent candidates targeting the conservative Liberal party’s wealthy inner-city heartland on a policy of climate action, political integrity, and gender equality had claimed five seats from the Coalition in Melbourne, Sydney, and Perth. They were also ahead in the seat of Kooyong, held by former Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

Western Australia, a state which traditionally held more Liberal-voting seats, recorded a 10.7% swing towards the Labor party, spurred on by the popularity of its Labor state premier, Mark McGowan.

And Queensland, the state that awarded Morrison victory in 2019, voted heavily for the Australian Greens, earning it the new nickname “Greenland”. The minor party won two inner-city Brisbane seats – in the process of ousting the woman who would have been Albanese’s environment minister – to have three MPs in the lower house of parliament. It is also on track for a record vote in the Senate.

Morrison stepped down as leader of the Liberal party after conceding the election to Albanese on Saturday night. His position is likely to be taken by the former home affairs minister, Peter Dutton.

Bella E. McMahon
I am a freelance writer who started blogging in college. I am fascinated by human nature, politics, culture, technology, and pop culture. In addition to my writing, I enjoy exploring new places, trying out new things, and engaging in conversations with new people. Some of my favorite hobbies are reading, playing music, making crafts, writing, traveling, and spending time with my family.