Australia’s Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese has said he wants to unite the country and make some changes in policy “particularly with regard to climate change” after leading the opposition to power for the first time since 2007.
He made his comments after Scott Morrison conceded defeat in the election, ending almost a decade of conservative rule.
Labor currently remains just shy of the 76 seats needed to form a government and so may have to rely on the support of smaller independent parties, including the Greens or so-called “teal independents”, who campaigned on policies of integrity, equality and tackling climate change.
It means the makeup of the new parliament looks set to be much less climate-skeptic than the one that supported Mr Morrison’s pro-coal mining administration.
Final results could take some time as counting of a record number of postal votes is completed.
The government changed the rules on Friday to enable people recently infected with COVID to vote over the phone.
Voting is compulsory for adults in Australia.
Following his victory, Mr Albanese, who is a republican from a working-class background, said: “I want to unite the country.
“I think people want to come together, look for our common interest, look towards that sense of common purpose.
“I think people have had enough of division, what they want is to come together as a nation, and I intend to lead that.”
He later spoke to journalists about the coming days’ agenda and said he would be attending a Tokyo summit on Tuesday with US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mr Albanese said: “Obviously the Quad leaders’ meeting is an absolute priority for Australia and 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 and I look forward to the meetings that have been organized. “
During the campaign, Labor promised more financial assistance and a stronger social safety net as Australia wrestles with the highest inflation since 2001 and soaring housing prices.
On the foreign policy front, the party proposed to establish a Pacific defense school to train neighboring armies in response to China’s potential military presence on the Solomon Islands, which are on Australia’s doorstep.
It also wants to tackle climate change with a more ambitious 43% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Conceding defeat, Mr Morrison said: “Tonight I have spoken to the leader of the opposition and the incoming prime minister, Anthony Albanese, and I’ve congratulated him on his election victory this evening.
“I believe it’s very important that this country has certainty.
“I think it’s very important this country can move forward.”
Mr Morrison also said he would stand down as leader of the Liberal party.
His capitulation ends eight years and nine months in power for the conservative coalition.
Mr Morrison became prime minister in 2018 after several leadership changes.
Congratulating Mr Albanese on his election as prime minister, Boris Johnson said: “Our countries have a long history and a bright future together.
“As thriving likeminded democracies we work every day to make the world a better, safer, greener and more prosperous place.”
Highlighting the “unmatched closeness” between the two nations, he said that “the only distance between us is geographical”.
“I look forward to working with Prime Minister Albanese in the weeks, months and years ahead as, together, we tackle shared challenges and demonstrate the importance of our shared values,” Mr Johnson added.