Australia’s new PM Anthony Albanese sworn in

- colombogazette.com

Anthony Albanese has been sworn in as Australia’s new leader and will fly immediately to an international summit.

Mr Albanese’s Labor Party defeated Scott Morrison’s conservative government in an election on Saturday.

It remains unclear whether he will form a majority or govern with the support of crossbenchers.

Mr Albanese will fly to Tokyo on Monday to meet the leaders of the so-called Quad nations – the US, India and Japan.

He was sworn in with four key cabinet members, including new Foreign Minister Penny Wong, who will travel with him to Japan.

It is Australia’s first Labor government in almost a decade. The party has won 72 lower house seats but counting continues to determine whether they can get the 76 needed to form a majority.

Both major parties suffered a hit to their primary vote, with almost a third of people putting minor players – including the Greens and independents – as their first preference.

The Quad group is seen as largely aiming to counter growing Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

It will meet on Tuesday following recent diplomatic tensions in the Pacific, after the Solomon Islands last month signed a security pact with China.

The US and Australia hold fears the deal could allow China to build a naval base in the region.

In a statement ahead of the meeting, Mr Albanese praised his counterparts’ commitments to region.

“The Quad Leaders’ Summit brings together four leaders of great liberal democracies – Australia, Japan, India, and the United States of America – in support of a free, open and resilient Indo-Pacific,” he said.

Ms Wong – the first person born overseas to hold Australia’s foreign affairs portfolio – also signalled that climate action would be on the meeting agenda.

Australia would take “new energy and much more to the table – including our commitment to act on climate change after a lost decade”, she said. (BBC)

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