Thu | Jun 30, 2022

Australian Labour topples conservatives; PM faces early tests

Published:Saturday | May 21, 2022 | 11:37 AMThe Associated Press
Australia's Labour Party leader Anthony Albanese (centre), celebrates with his son Nathan (right) and his partner Jodie Haydon at a Labour Party event in Sydney, Australia, Sunday, May 22, 2022, after Prime Minister Scott Morrison conceded defeat to Albanese in a federal election (AP photo).

Australia's centre-left opposition party has toppled the conservative government after almost a decade in power, and Prime Minister-elect Anthony Albanese in his Saturday election victory speech promised sharper reductions in greenhouse gas emissions while he faces an early foreign policy test.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he quickly conceded defeat despite millions of votes yet to be counted, because an Australian leader must attend a Tokyo summit on Tuesday with US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Albanese, who has described himself as the only candidate with a “non-Anglo Celtic name” to run for prime minister in the 121 years that the office has existed, referred to his own humble upbringing in the Sydney suburb of Camperdown.

“It says a lot about our great country that a son of a single mom who was a disability pensioner, who grew up in public housing down the road in Camperdown can stand before you tonight as Australia's prime minister,” Albanese said.

“Every parent wants more for the next generation than they had. My mother dreamt of a better life for me. And I hope that my journey in life inspires Australians to reach for the stars,” he added.

Albanese will be sworn in as prime minister after his Labour party clinched its first electoral win since 2007.

Labour has promised more financial assistance and a robust social safety net as Australia grapples with the highest inflation since 2001 and soaring housing prices.

The party also plans to increase minimum wages, and on the foreign policy front, it proposed to establish a Pacific defence school to train neighbouring armies in response to China's potential military presence on the Solomon Islands on Australia's doorstep.

It also wants to tackle climate change with a more ambitious 43 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050.

Morrison's Liberal party-led coalition was seeking a fourth three-year term. It held the narrowest of majorities — 76 seats in the 151-member House of Representatives, where parties need a majority to form a government. In early counting on Saturday, the coalition was on track to win 51 seats, Labour 72, 10 were unaligned lawmakers and 18 were too close to call.

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