Anthony Albanese has declared he is ready to govern after being sworn in as Australia’s 31st Prime Minister and vowed to ‘stand up for our values’ when dealing with China.
In a brief press conference before flying to Tokyo for a Quad leaders’ meeting, the 59-year-old said: ‘I am ready. I have been getting ready for some time.’
The Labor leader – who is on track for form a narrow majority government – said Australia’s relationship with China is ‘difficult’ but vowed ‘Australia should always stand up for our values and we will in a Government that I lead.’
Mr Albanese was interrupted by a journalist trying to ask a question and immediately shut them down, saying: ‘You will not get the call earlier because you yell. Can we just on day one, get that clear.’
Australia’s new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (centre) poses for pictures with his new cabinet ministers, Jim Chalmers (left), Penny Wong (second left), Richard Marles (second right) and Katy Gallagher (right)
He then took a swipe at former PM Scott Morrison, accusing him of playing politics with national security issues by sending thousands of text messages to voters warning about people smugglers with polls open on Saturday.
‘We should put Australia’s national interests first and not attempt to play politics with national security issues,’ Mr Albanese said.
‘I think we saw some politics played with national security issues on Saturday afternoon and there are millions of Australians who received text messages on Saturday afternoon that demonstrate that is the case.
‘What I will do as the Prime Minister and my foreign minister Senator Wong will do is put Australia’s national interests first, put Australia’s values first.’
Labor has accused the Government of amping-up national security concerns around China for political gain over the past year or two.
Former Defence Minister Peter Dutton – who is favourite to become Liberal leader – even said Australia should ‘prepare for war’ in an Anzac Day TV interview.
Scott Morrison enjoys drinks with friends and family on Sunday in his last day living in Kirribilli House as Prime Minister
Australia and China have been at loggerheads since the Morrison Government called for an inquiry into the origins of Covid-19 in 2020. Beijing has banned or reduced several Australian exports including seafood, wine and barley.
Mr Albanese said the first sitting of Parliament will be before the end of July but the timing may be affected by school holidays.
‘I will try to run a family friendly parliament. There is school holidays in July that have been pointed out as well. We will resume parliament in a very orderly way,’ he said.
The new Prime Minister also laid out his priorities for the next three years and said work on a national anti-corruption commission has already begun.
He said the main changes he wants to implement are ‘our national reconstruction fund, our powering Australia plan to deal with the opportunities that come with acting on climate change.
‘Our full implementation of the respect at work report recommendations. Affordable child care, fixing the aged care crisis, strengthening Medicare.’
Earlier on Monday, Mr Albanese was sworn in in front of his beaming son Nathan, 21, and girlfriend of two years Jodie at Government House in Canberra.
‘I, Anthony Norman Albanese do solemnly and sincerely affirm and declare that I will well and truly serve the Commonwealth of Australia, her land and her people in the office of Prime Minister,’ the new leader said.
Although he was raised Catholic, Mr Albanese chose not to say the words ‘so help me God’ at the end of his statement.
He then posed for photos with the Governor-General David Hurley, the Queen’s representative in Australia.
Labor is on track to form a narrow majority government, with several seats still too close to call after Saturday’s election.
Anthony Albanese shakes the hand of Governor-General David Hurley at Government House in Canberra on Monday morning
Deputy leader Richard Marles (right) and frontbenchers Penny Wong (second left), Jim Chalmers (far left) and Katy Gallagher (second right) were also sworn in with Mr Albanese (centre)
‘I, Anthony Norman Albanese do solemnly and sincerely affirm and declare that I will well and truly serve the Commonwealth of Australia, her land and her people in the office of Prime Minister,’ the new leader said
Mr Albanese hugged his son Nathan as his girlfriend Jodie watched the pair embrace after the swearing in in Canberra
Anthony Albanese looks towards the media before he is sworn-in as Prime Minister in front of the Governor-General
Left to right: Jim Chalmers, Penny Wong, Anthony Albanese, Richard Marles and Katy Gallagher pose for a photograph outside Government House after being sworn in
Who was sworn in?
Anthony Albanese: Prime Minister
Richard Marles: Employment Minister and Deputy Prime Minister
Jim Chalmers: Treasurer
Penny Wong: Foreign Affairs Minister
Katy Gallagher: Finance Minister, Minister for Women and Attorney-General
Deputy leader Richard Marles and frontbenchers Penny Wong, Jim Chalmers and Katy Gallagher were also sworn in.
They will temporarily share all the government portfolios between them until Labor MPs meet next week to decide who sits in the cabinet.
There will be some promotions to the ministry after Labor’s environment spokeswoman Terri Butler and home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally lost to the Greens and an independent, respectively.
Mr Albanese was seen leaving his inner-west Sydney home before dawn on Monday morning, along with a suitcase and a spare suit in a bag.
He will get straight to businesses by attending the Quad leader’s summit in Tokyo on Tuesday where he will meet US President Joe Biden.
Mr Biden has already called Mr Albanese to congratulate him on his election win and say he was looking forward to meeting the new prime minister in Tokyo on Tuesday.
‘President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ steadfast commitment to the US-Australia alliance and his intent to work closely with the new government to make it stronger still,’ the White House said in a statement.
‘President Biden expressed deep appreciation for the prime minister-designate’s own early commitment to the alliance, reflected in his decision to travel almost immediately to Tokyo to attend the Quad Summit.’
The White House said the meeting would be ‘a vital opportunity to exchange views and continue to drive practical co-operation in the Indo-Pacific’.
On the other side of politics, a power shift is already emerging within the Coalition, with Peter Dutton tipped to be unchallenged as the new Liberal leader replacing Scott Morrison.
Barnaby Joyce is already pushing for more front bench positions for the Nationals, who did comparatively well in Saturday’s election compared to their Coalition partner.
Anthony Albanese left his Sydney home before dawn to be sworn in as the next prime minister before he jets to the Quad leader’s summit in Tokyo where he will meet Joe Biden after receiving a congratulatory phone call from the US president
Mr Albanese carried a suitcase and suit on a coat hanger as he left his Marrickville home before boarding a plane to the Governor-General’s House on Monday
Mr Albanese took to Twitter to confirm he had spoken with the US president and that he looked forward to meeting him.
‘Good to speak with @POTUS today and reaffirm the long-standing alliance between our two countries,’ he wrote. ‘I look forward to continuing our conversation in Tokyo on Tuesday.’
When counting halted on Sunday night, Labor was assured of 75 seats, just one short of an outright majority in the 151 seat House of Representatives, despite the ALP getting less than a third of overall primary votes at 32.8 per cent.
Labor achieved power despite its falling popularity thanks chiefly to preferences flowing from voters who supported ‘teal’ independents in mostly wealthy suburban seats and also the Greens.
Mr Joyce hit out at the supposedly ‘progressive’ voters who backed the independents and voted out the Liberal candidates, as it stripped the Coalition of mostly moderate voices; inevitably tilting the party to the right.
‘I’m hoping they’re happy with their work,’ Mr Joyce told the Australian Financial Review.
‘They’ve managed to get rid of three gay guys, one Aboriginal and one Asian. Was that their game plan?’
Anthony Albanese (pictured with Senator Penny Wong, partner Jodie Haydon and son Nathan) will waste no time getting ‘down to business’ with the Labor leader sworn in as Australia’s 31st Prime Minister on Monday
Mr Albanese took to Twitter to confirm he had spoken with the US president and that he looked forward to meeting him
Labor’s win was also blemished by losing the safe southwestern Sydney seat of Fowler where former NSW Premier Kristina Keneally was parachuted in as a high-profile candidate, only to be beaten by independent Dai Le.
The 31st Australian Prime Minister enjoyed coffee with his inner-Sydney supporters on Sunday but was already foreshadowing a radically different agenda than that of the now ousted Coalition government.
‘I do want to change the country,’ Mr Albanese said ‘I want to change the way that politics operates in this country.
‘It’s something that’s a big moment in my life but what I want it to be is a big moment for the country.’
Labor was on Sunday confident of forming majority government despite the ALP primary vote plunging to 32.8 per cent
Incoming Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (front right) is pictured with his partner Jodie Haydon (left) in Marrickville, Sydney on Sunday, May 22, 2022
The Quad leaders summit will bring together leaders from India, Japan, the US and Australia to discuss security and economic issues the Pacific region is facing.
After the summit and bilateral meetings with Quad leaders on Tuesday, Albanese said he would return to Australia on Wednesday.
‘Then we’ll get down to business,’ he said.
One of the first major events will be a meeting with state premiers and territory chief ministers when he will set out the new federal government’s stance on more ambitious climate action.
While the strong performance of the Greens and the climate-focused ‘teal’ independents indicated Australians wanted more pro-active policies on environmental matters, the likelihood of Labor gaining a majority in its own right meant those cross-benchers would now have little to no influence on the new government’s agenda.
Following a crushing defeat, the outgoing prime minister confirmed he would be stepping down as leader of the Liberal Party
Peter Dutton (pictured) is the favourite to succeed Scott Morrison as leader of the Liberal Party
But while Labor is finally ready to make changes after a long stint in opposition, the Coalition is set for internal battles on two fronts.
The most immediate decision is who will replace Mr Morrison as Liberal leader, with the outgoing Prime Minister saying on election night he would not re-contest the leadership and would step aside.
An emotional Mr Morrison told his local Horizon Church on Sunday a life of faith called on people to ‘trust and obey’.
‘God holds us, whether you’re a prime minister or a pastor, running a business, teaching in schools, working in the police force – it doesn’t matter,’ he said.
‘I’m very pleased that the last thing I say as PM is here.’
Peter Dutton, who held the Home Affairs and then Defence ministries under Mr Morrison has already put his hand up for the Liberal leadership, having previously run for twice in 2018, losing firstly to Malcolm Turnbull and then days later to Mr Morrison.
The outgoing Minister for Trade, Dan Tehan, and Karen Andrews, who served as Minister for Home Affairs under Mr Morrison, had both been touted as potential challengers to Mr Dutton but reports on Sunday said they knew they did not have the numbers to win.
With fellow Queenslanders and fellow conservatives dominating what is left of the Liberal Party, Mr Dutton is likely to be installed unopposed, with former treasurer Josh Frydenberg having been ejected from parliament, losing his seat of Kooyong to independent Monique Ryan.
Mr Tehan, Ms Andrews and Angus Taylor were among the leading candidates as deputy leader.
National Party leader Barnaby Joyce (right) is pictured with his partner Vikki Campion at the Brisbane Convention Centre
Monique Ryan (pictured second left with her family) is one of the teal independents who took seats from the Liberal Party
The other major internal fight in the Coalition emerges from the Nationals having held all their seats while the Liberals lost up to 20, making the rural and regional party now in a position to push for a greater number of front-bench portfolios in Opposition.
Mr Joyce said on Sunday that he will ‘bargain hard’ for extra National Party shadow positions.
He said the teal independents had done ‘an exceptional job of decapitating the moderates out of the Liberals’.
Mr Joyce could not resist having a crack at his Coalition partners, saying ‘We were also up against independents, but we won, because we know how to campaign.’
Pauline Hanson is at risk of losing her Senate spot, but is ahead at the moment.
With the Coalition and Labor both likely to get two of the six Senate seats from Queensland, and the Greens one, Ms Hanson is clinging onto a narrow lead in counting for the sixth and final position, challenged by the Legalise Cannabis candidate.
The billions of Clive Palmer were not enough to get any lower house seats for the United Australia Party, but the party is ahead in counting for the final Senate position in Victoria and in the contest for the same in South Australia.
Three House of Representative seats still remained too close to call after Sunday’s counting.
In Gilmore in NSW, Liberal Andrew Constance is just 306 votes ahead of the ALP’s Fiona Phillips and in with a chance of being the only Coalition candidate to snatch a previously Labor seat.
In the Victorian seat of Menzies, Liberal Keith Wolahan was 624 votes ahead of Labor’s Naomi Oakley as he attempts to hold the seat for the Coalition.
In the eastern Adelaide seat of Sturt, Liberal James Stevens was 723 ahead of Labor’s Sonja Baram.
LABOR’S PLAN FOR AUSTRALIA:
* Improve aged care, with registered nurses on-site 24 hours a day, more carers, a pay rise for workers and better food for residents
* Reduce childcare costs
* Support a minimum wage rise to keep pace with increasing inflation levels, and to lift productivity and close the gap on wages
* Net-zero emissions by 2050 and a 43 per cent greenhouse gas emissions cut by 2030 while driving investment in renewable energy and creating 604,000 new jobs by 2030
* Implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full and deliver a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament
* Establish a national anti-corruption commission
* Promote women’s economic opportunity and make gender pay equity an objective of the Fair Work Act
* Bolster relations with Pacific nations in the wake of the Solomon Islands signing a security pact with China
* Housing Australia Future Fund and Help to Buy scheme involving an equity contribution from the government for up to 10,000 aspiring homeowners a year on low and middle incomes
* A royal commission into Centrelink ‘robodebt’.