Five things to know about Australia’s new prime minister
Australia’s incoming prime minister, Anthony Albanese, will be sworn in on Monday after outgoing Prime Minister Scott Morrison conceded defeat in Friday’s election.
Albanese, 59, is a center-left politician who leads the Australian Labor Party, which is is set to form its first government in roughly a decade after picking up seats in parliament.
Albanese lives in Sydney, one of the largest Australian cities, and is a Catholic, a father and the owner of a dog named Toto.
Here’s five things to know about Australia’s new PM.
Albanese grew up with his mother in public housing inside the inner western part of Sydney, according to his online biography.
In 1984, he graduated from the University of Sydney with a bachelor’s degree in economics before winning election to the Australian Parliament in 1996 to represent his home region of Grayndler.
Albanese championed Australia’s first law granting homosexual couples the same rights as heterosexual couples. He was a deputy prime minister in former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s second government, formed in 2013.
“I hope there are families in public housing watching this tonight,” Albanese said in his victory speech Saturday, “because I want every parent to be able to tell their child that no matter where you come from, the doors of opportunity are open to us all.”
First Labor PM since 2013
Albanese, who became the Labor Party’s leader in 2019, is its first prime minister since 2013.
The Labor Party held power from 2007 to 2013 under Rudd and Julia Gillard.
Albanese focused on issues including climate change, making child care more affordable and expanding government-assisted health care services.
In his victory speech on Saturday, Albanese said the “Australian people had voted for change” and he promised to “make a positive difference each and every day.”
Labor’s victory was widely seen as a referendum against Morrison, who admitted ahead of the election he could be “a bit of a bulldozer” and needed to change.
Will attend Quad summit
Albanese will attend a summit with leaders from Quadrilateral Security Dialogue members in Tokyo on Tuesday, along with President Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Morrison conceded the race despite millions of ballots still being counted because it was imperative that Australia send a leader to the summit, according to The Associated Press.
The four countries make up a new security partnership in the Indo-Pacific meant to counter China. The leaders will likely discuss matters such as Beijing’s expansion in the South China Sea, which includes the construction of artificial islands and naval bases.
Outgoing Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan told Sky News Australia it was “absolutely vital” that Albanese attend the meeting, saying “it has never been so important that we get the right geo-strategic environment in the Indo-Pacific for the future of our nation.”
Climate advocate, but careful on coal
Albanese has been outspoken about climate change as Australia has been beleaguered by climate-related natural disasters, including scorching wildfires that began in 2019 and burned through millions of acres.
However, Albanese has signaled that he will not phase out coal — in contrast to a further-left party, the Greens, which also gained notable victories in Parliament on election day.
Albanese and the Labor Party are hesitant to take on the coal industry after losing elections in 2019 following combative rhetoric against the industry, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
The Labor Party is behind aggressive climate action, however, including slashing carbon emissions by 43 percent compared to 2005 levels by 2030.
Australia is also one of the world’s top producers of both coal and gas and has faced calls to more deeply fight emissions and fossil fuels.
Promise of unity
Albanese pledged in his victory speech that his team “will work every day to bring Australians together. And I will lead a government worthy of the people of Australia.”
However, it’s unclear whether it will govern with a majority in Parliament or rely on a coalition with the Greens or independents.
Albanese has pledged to hold a referendum on creating an Indigenous advisory body to Parliament during his three-year term.
The Labor leader also thanked Morrison in his speech, saying the outgoing prime minister had “very graciously wished me well.”
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