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PM-elect Albanese vows to repair Australia's image overseas

  • 22 May 2022

Australia’s incoming prime minister has put climate change at the top of his agenda, as his victory in the country’s federal elections ended a decade of conservative rule.

Albanese and key ministers are expected to be sworn in on Monday. ( AFP )

Incoming Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has vowed to reset Australia's relations with the world and sweep aside the country's reputation as a climate laggard, as he raced to form a government in time for a key Tokyo summit.

Fresh from a victory that ended a decade of continuous conservative rule, Albanese on Sunday signaled an era of fairer, greener and less pugilistic politics for Australia.

The 59-year-old Labor leader said Saturday's election was a "big moment" in his life, but insisted he wanted it to be "a big moment for the country."

"I do want to change the country," he said as he waited to see whether his Labor party can command a majority in parliament or will need help from climate-minded independents.

Images of smoldering eucalypt forests, smog-enveloped cities and blanched-out coral reefs have made Australia a byword for climate-fueled destruction.

Under conservative leadership, the country - already one of the world's largest gas and coal exporters - has also become synonymous with playing the spoiler at international climate talks. But Albanese put the world on notice that it should now expect a change.

READ MORE: Australia's Labor party wins election on climate crisis ticket

'Getting down to business'

Albanese and key ministers are expected to be sworn in on Monday, just in time to attend a summit with Japanese, Indian and US leaders - the so-called Quad.

"Obviously, the Quad leaders meeting is an absolute priority for Australia," Albanese said in his first post-election event on Sunday. "It enables us to send a message to the world that there is a change of government.

"There will be some changes in policy, particularly with regard to climate change and our engagement with the world on those issues."

Albanese said he will also use the visit to Tokyo to have one-on-one meetings with US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"I will return to Australia on Wednesday, and then we'll get down to business," he added.

Foreign leaders welcomed Albanese's election, most notably Australia's Pacific Island neighbours, whose very existence is threatened by rising sea levels.

"Of your many promises to support the Pacific, none is more welcome than your plan to put the climate first - our people's shared future depends on it," said Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.

The issue had plagued Australia's relations with the region, where China is rapidly expanding its interests.

READ MORE: Climate crisis 'greatest threat' to Australia's security

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