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Australia's PM-elect wants to 'end climate wars'

May 22, 2022

Australia could become a "renewable energy superpower," said incoming Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. He is due to be sworn in just a day before a Quad summit in Tokyo.

Anthony Albanese waves in front of a wall covered in his party's slogans
Albanese emphasized his humble origins, including his growing up in a social housing by a single mother, during campaignImage: JAIMI JOY/REUTERS

Australia's incoming Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said he wants to improve Australia's image abroad after ousting conservative Scott Morrison.

Climate change played a pivotal role in the Saturday vote, with voters unhappy with Morrison's government response to deadly fires and floods that hit Australia in recent years and their support of massive coal exports. Albanese's Labor party and Morrison's Liberals have been in open war over climate change since 2007 and several governments have been toppled in the conflict.

But in his victory speech, Albanese pledged to "change the way that politics operates."

"Together we can end the climate wars," Albanese said. "Together we can take advantage of the opportunity for Australia to be a renewable energy superpower."

The incoming prime minister said Canberra's partners abroad can expect a new course "particularly with regard to climate change and our engagement with the world on those issues."

Labor wins, but outcome still unclear

While Labor emerged as the clear winner of the weekend election, it was not immediately clear if the party will secure 76 seats in Australia's 151-seat assembly and form a single-party government once all votes are counted. If they fall short of an absolute majority, however, the left-leaning party can form a coalition with some of the independent deputies or the country's Greens.

Albanese casts his ballot in Sydney
Albanese's party might fall short of an absolute majority and is expected to turn to smaller pro-environment factionsImage: LUKAS COCH/AAP/IMAGO

Albanese and his government are scrambling to complete the swearing-in process on Monday so the politician can attend a Quad summit in Tokyo on the next day. There, he will meet US President Joe Biden as well as Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and India's Narendra Modi. The Australian leader described the summit as a "an absolute priority" and a chance to "send a message to the world."

Congratulations from neighbors, US and UK

Biden congratulated Albanese on his victory and praised him for his "early commitment" to the summit in Japan. The meeting was a "a vital opportunity to exchange views and continue to drive practical cooperation in the Indo-Pacific," the White House said.

Albanese: 'I am humbled by this victory'

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and New Zealand's Jacinda Ardem also congratulated the 59-year-old Albanese. Fiji leader Frank Bainimarama praised Albanese's focus on climate change, saying that the two countries "shared future" depended on it.

Solomon Islands' PM  Manasseh Sogavare congratulated Albanese as well, despite tensions between the countries following Solomon Islands' security pact with China.

The Pacific nation is grateful for Australia's financial, medical and security support, Sogavare said, but added "much however, remains to be done."

Sogavare pledged to take bilateral ties "to another level" during Albanese's tenure.

dj/wd (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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