The 59-year-old former center-left opposition leader was sworn in during a brief ceremony in Canberra before Australian Governor-General David Hurley.
Several members of his government took office at the same time as him, notably Foreign Minister Penny Wong, who is accompanying him to Tokyo.
Less than 48 hours after his party’s victory in the legislative elections, the new Prime Minister flew to Japan where he will participate in the Quad Summit (United States, Japan, India, Australia) on Tuesday, and will meet his Indian counterparts separately. Narendra Modi and Japanese Fumio Kishida, as well as US President Joe Biden.
This first official trip abroad is “a good way to send a message to the world that there is a new government in Australia”, Mr Albanese said during his first press conference as Prime Minister. “This is a government that represents a change in the way we will deal with the world on issues like climate change.”
Anthony Albanese notably promised to adopt more ambitious targets in terms of reducing carbon emissions and to transform Australia into a “superpower” in renewable energies.
So far, however, he has remained deaf to calls to end coal, which remains a driving force in the country’s economy and has many Labor supporters.
Mr Albanese has promised to cut emissions by 43% by 2030. His conservative predecessor Scott Morisson, with his climate skepticism, had been criticized for sticking to a target of -28% in 2030 compared to 2005 .
– “Deep gratitude” –
During Mr Morrison’s tenure, Australia experienced unprecedented natural disasters: wildfires that destroyed an area the size of Finland, repeated and devastating floods and long periods of drought.
Mr Morrison has always shown unconditional support for the coal industry and has been reluctant to act in international climate negotiations.
This disastrous ecological balance sheet enabled around twenty independent candidates committed to environmental issues to win many seats, particularly in constituencies that were strongholds of Mr. Morrison’s liberal coalition.
The full results had still not been published early Monday afternoon, with the outcome remaining uncertain in a handful of constituencies. With 75 seats already acquired, the Labor Party was one seat away from the absolute majority in the House of Representatives, which it should be able to achieve.
Mr Albanese will return to Australia on Wednesday. “Then we will get to work,” he assured.
Among the foreign leaders who hailed Mr Albanese’s election are those of Pacific island nations, threatened by rising waters.
“Among your many pledges of support for the Pacific, none is more welcome than your plan to prioritize climate. The common future of our peoples depends on it,” Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said.
The climato-skepticism of the previous Australian Prime Minister had poisoned relations between Canberra and its neighbors and allies in the Pacific.
On the diplomatic level, the new Labor government is particularly awaited on the question of China, relations between Beijing and Canberra having been particularly tense for two years.
Relations with Beijing “remain difficult”, admitted Monday Mr. Albanese. But according to him, “it is China that has changed, not Australia. Australia will always have to defend its values”.