New Australian leader Albanese makes whirlwind world debut

24 May 2022, 10:34

Albanese meets Biden
Biden Asia. Picture: PA

The new Australian Prime Minister attended the Quad summit in Japan just hours after being sworn into office.

Just hours after being sworn in as Australia’s new prime minister, Anthony Albanese found himself fresh off a jet and thrown into the glare of the global spotlight.

He was rewarded with a warm welcome, as well as a bit of a gentle ribbing, from US President Joe Biden and other leaders at an international summit in Japan on Tuesday.

“You were sworn in and got on a plane, and if you fall asleep while you’re here, it’s OK,” Mr Biden joked as the leaders met at the Quad, an Indo-Pacific security and economic coalition meant as a counterweight to China’s growing influence in the region.

Mr Biden marvelled at Mr Albanese’s stamina. “I don’t know how you’re doing it. But it is really quite extraordinary, just getting off the campaign trail as well.”

The weekend election win for Mr Albanese, from the centre-left Labour Party, was a vivid change in Australian politics, ending nine years of conservative rule, the last several under former leader Scott Morrison.

Mr Albanese has described himself as Australia’s first-ever political candidate with a “non-Anglo Celtic name”.

He and Malaysian-born Penny Wong, Australia’s first foreign minister who was born overseas, were sworn into office on Monday just before they flew to Tokyo for the meeting with Mr Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Quad leaders
The four leaders of the Quad group – Mr Albanese, Joe Biden, Fumio Kishida and Narendra Modi (AP)

Mr Albanese’s election came after a hard-fought campaign during which he got Covid-19. Because his predecessor set the election date a week later than expected, Mr Albanese had little time to prepare for the Tokyo summit.

For his efforts, however, he received friendly greetings from other leaders.

Mr Kishida, in his opening remarks, took note of Mr Albanese’s tight schedule, offering his “heartfelt appreciation for coming all the way to Japan right after the elections”.

Mr Modi said Mr Albanese’s presence in Tokyo within 24 hours of his swearing-in “demonstrates the strength of our friendship within the Quad and your commitment to it”.

At the summit, Mr Albanese stressed Australia’s unwavering commitment to the regional forum and stressed his country’s efforts to deal with climate change and look for greater engagement with south-east Asian countries.

He did not mention aggressive security moves by China, which many countries in Asia view with concern.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang wrote to congratulate Albanese on his election victory, in what Australian media described as a thawing of relations after years of tension over Australian laws designed to outlaw covert foreign interference in politics, which many see as aimed at China.

“It is an honour that this is my first act as prime minister to attend this important Quad leaders’ meeting here in Japan,” Mr Albanese said in his opening remarks at Tuesday’s summit at the Japanese Prime Minister’s office.

“We have had a change of government in Australia. But Australia’s commitment to the Quad has not changed and will not change.”

After what has been a smooth diplomatic debut, he will face a spate of domestic demands when he returns home on Wednesday and attempts to fulfil his campaign promises.

On the list are tackling climate change, affordable child care and strengthening Medicare.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Police say that the suspect, 22, had mental health problems

Man charged with murder over Copenhagen shooting

Spanish military jets diverted the Menorca-bound easyJet flight for security checks.

Dramatic moment easyJet flight intercepted by fighter jets over 'hoax bomb threat'

Jake McLean (centre) was reportedly killed in the crash, whilst Yazmin Oukhellou (insert) was injured

Lauren Goodger's ex Jake McLean dies in car crash with TOWIE star Yazmin Oukhellou injured

A piece of glacier broke away on the Marmolada mountain

Six dead after chunk of glacier breaks off and slams into hikers on Italian mountain

Several people have been killed in a shooting in a Copenhagen shopping centre

Chilling video shows suspected Copenhagen gunman brandishing rifle before 3 were killed

Residents in a number of Sydney suburbs were ordered to evacuate

Thousands flee their homes as flooding hits Sydney

A woman died after losing an arm and a leg in a shark attack off the coast of Hurghada, Egypt

Second woman killed by shark off Egypt's red sea coast

Oscar Pistorius has met with the father of Reeva Steenkamp

Oscar Pistorius meets victim Reeva Steenkamp's father in a bid for parole

North Korea has blamed its Covid outbreak on 'alien things' and balloons coming from South Korea.

North Korea blames Covid outbreak on 'alien things' and balloons from South

Exclusive
Boris Johnson said Putin does not have to give up power for there to be peace in Ukraine

Putin's made more than 30 nuke threats during Ukraine invasion, Boris tells LBC

Russian President Vladimir Putin has hit back at western leaders for their lack of "machismo" and said it would be ‘disgusting’ to see Boris Johnson topless.

Putin mocks G7 leaders' lack of 'machismo' and says PM would look 'disgusting' topless

Ukraine has retaken Snake Island after Moscow's troops abandoned the strategic outpost in what Russia's Defence Ministry has described as a 'goodwill gesture'.

'Kaboom!' Ukraine celebrates Putin's humiliation as Russia retreats from Snake Island

President Joe Biden listens as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks

Ketanji Brown Jackson to be sworn in as US Supreme Court justice

An investigator works outside the Bataclan concert hall (Christophe Ena/PA)

Life without parole for surviving extremist who carried out Paris attacks

A shark is seen swimming across a sand bar (Phil Marcelo/AP)

Great white sharks head to Cape Cod as busy tourist season gets under way

Police outside the Bataclan concert hall in Paris (Catherine Wylie/PA)

Men convicted of involvement in 2015 terror attacks in Paris