Australia’s new Prime Minister sworn in ahead of Quad meeting

Anthony Albanese (centre) was sworn in alongside key cabinet members (left to right) Jim Chalmers, Penny Wong, Katy Gallagher and Richard Marles

Anthony Albanese has been sworn in as Australia’s new leader and will immediately fly 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 leaders of the so-called Quad countries – the United States, India and Japan.

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

This is Australia’s first Labor government in nearly a decade. The party won 72 seats in the lower house, but the count continues to see if it can secure the 76 seats needed to form a majority.

Both major parties suffered a heavy blow in their primary vote, with nearly a third of people putting underage players – including the Greens and Independents – as their first preference.

The Quad group is seen as largely aimed at countering China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

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

Penny Wong watches Anthony Albanese

New Foreign Secretary Penny Wong is the first foreign-born person to hold the portfolio

The United States and Australia fear the deal will allow China to build a naval base in the region.

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

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

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

Australia would bring “new energy and so much more – including our commitment to action on climate change after a lost decade”, she said.

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