Incoming Australian Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has vowed to “change the country” and “change the way that politics operates in this country” a day after his historic election victory.
Albanese, a former left-wing firebrand turned moderate pragmatist, said on Sunday that he would usher in a new era for Australians as he promises to do more on climate change and Aboriginal rights.
The Labor leader will be sworn in as the country’s 31st Prime Minister tomorrow and will immediately fly out to Tokyo to attend the “Quad” security summit with the leaders of the US, India and Japan.
Speaking today, Albanese said: “It’s something that’s a big moment in my life, but what I want it to be is a big moment for the country.
“I do want to change the country. I want to change the way that politics operates in this country.”
Labor ended the nine-year reign of the centre-right Liberal-National coalition on Saturday, with voters deserting Prime Minister Scott Morrison after four years in the job.
Counting is ongoing in seats across the country, however Labor is now likely to gain a slim overall majority after it first appeared Albanese would need the help of independents and smaller parties to form government.
A primary reason for Morrison’s defeat was the exodus of traditional Liberal voters in affluent inner-city areas, who instead voted for a closely aligned group of female independents.
Labor also scored large gains in the mining state of Western Australia and in several suburban seats in Melbourne and Sydney.
The so-called Teal Independents were running on a socially progressive, but economically conservative, platform and focussed their campaigns around Morrison’s record on climate change and women’s issues.
Morrison held back tears as he spoke at his local pentecostal church in the Sydney suburbs on Sunday.
Morrison said he had experienced a “very difficult walk over the last four years”.
“God holds us, whether you’re a prime minister or a pastor, running a business, teaching in schools, working in the police force – it doesn’t matter,” he said.
“I’m very pleased that the last thing I say as PM is here.”
Albanese will start his new premiership by focussing on the core issues of Aboriginal rights, investment into renewable energy, increasing childcare support, consolidating Australia’s defence and investing in skills programmes.
He ran a much more conservative campaign than Labor had rolled out in previous years, with fewer spending promises and no personal tax rises.
The incoming Prime Minister had a six-year stint as infrastructure minister during Labor’s last period in government and served as a Deputy Prime Minister for a short period of time in 2013.
Albanese channeled his working class background – he grew up in public housing with a single mother on disability benefits – in his victory speech on Saturday, saying he hoped “my journey in life inspires Australians to reach for the stars”.
“I hope there are families in public housing watching this tonight,” he said.
“Because I want every parent to be able to tell their child no matter where you live or where you come from, in Australia the doors of opportunity are open to us all.
“And like every other Labor government, we’ll just widen that door a bit more.”