Australia has sworn in a new prime minister. Anthony Albanese surprised political pundits as he led Labor to victory in the Australian general election. This was the Labor Party’s first election victory in close to a decade.
Albanese, a seasoned political leader, promised voters “safe change” during the campaign, which he ran efficiently. Voters echoed the positive messaging and showed the door to Australia’s conservative Liberal-National coalition, which has been in power since 2013.
“I want to bring Australians together. I want to seek our common purpose and promote unity and optimism, not fear and division,” Albanese said in his victory speech.
These elections, coming as they do, after the pandemic, were also seen as a referendum on the style of the former prime minister, Scott Morrison. Dubbed a ‘bulldozer’ by media for his hard decisions during the pandemic, Morrison didn’t always follow a collaborative political approach.
Albanese, on the other hand, has a reputation of being a ‘builder’. Though he has adjusted some of his more left-leaning policies, most voters seem to embrace his positions on key issues like climate.
Labor will however need the support of Greens and other cross-benchers to pass its legislation in the Australian Senate.
Faster action on climate change
As one of the most important issues of the election, climate crisis was a major talking point for Labor. The new prime minister is expected to take greater and faster action on climate change.
Labor has already promised to cut emissions by 43 per cent (by 2030) and to reach net zero by 2050 by strengthening the mechanism used to persuade companies to make cuts.
Critics would want Albanese to do more to keep global temperature rise within 1.5 degrees Celsius, as outlined in the Paris Agreement.
Australia’s foreign relations will be another major focus area for the new prime minister. Just 24 hours after taking oath, Albanese flew down to Japan to attend the Quad Summit in Tokyo. Sitting together with the world leaders, including President Joe Biden, Albanese discussed climate change, and the challenges faced by the Indo-Pacific region. He is holding individual bilateral meetings with Biden, Narendra Modi and Fumio Kishida.
With a full plate in front of him — from reinvigorating the country’s vital manufacturing industry to holding a referendum on enshrining an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in the constitution — Albanese needs to hit the ground running.
It appears that he has already taken the first sprint.