Australia’s prospective Prime Minister Anthony Albanese wants to overcome his country’s bad reputation as a climate polluter. At the summit meeting with India, Japan and the USA on Tuesday, he will announce a fundamental change of course, “especially with regard to climate change,” said the head of the laboratory on Sunday.
His party defeated the Conservatives of incumbent Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Saturday’s parliamentary elections. According to official partial results, the Labor Party secured at least 74 of the 151 seats in the House of Representatives. 76 mandates are required for an absolute majority in the parliamentary chamber. A good dozen seats have not yet been determined.
The Greens and several independent candidates were also successful, taking mandates from the Conservatives, especially in urban areas. Without a party ticket, it was mainly highly qualified women who campaigned for environmental protection, against corruption and for gender equality. Should the Labor Party miss an outright majority, they would be assured of ample support from those ranks.
The change of government should be completed quickly. Albanese and important ministers in his government are to be inaugurated on Monday so that he can take part in the so-called Quad Summit with India, Japan and the USA the following day.
“The quad meeting is of course an absolute priority for Australia,” said Albanese. He also wants to use the opportunity to hold one-on-one talks with US President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. The summit will focus on concerns about China’s growing military and economic influence.
Labor lead candidate Albanese, nicknamed “Albo,” campaigned to cut Australia’s carbon emissions by 43 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. In addition, his party campaigned for a massive expansion of renewable energies, purchase premiums on electric cars and significantly stricter emission laws.
“We can seize the opportunity to make Australia a renewable energy superpower,” Albanese said on Saturday. However, Labor has not announced any coal mine closures. Australia is one of the most important coal producers in the world.
Labor victory ends a decade of Conservative government in Australia. Election loser Morrison announced his resignation as leader of the Conservatives on Saturday evening. His government was criticized for insufficient climate protection measures.
The issue had also strained Australia’s relations with its Pacific neighbors, which are particularly threatened by climate change. They welcomed Albanese’s electoral victory. “Of your many pledges to support the Pacific, none is more welcome than your plan to put climate first – the common future of our peoples depends on it,” said Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.
Australia itself has also felt the effects of climate change in recent years: in 2019 huge fires in the east of the country devastated an area the size of Finland, in February 2022 floods caused severe damage. Recently, renewed massive coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef became known.
In addition, Morrison’s government’s corona policy met with severe criticism. Massive delays in vaccination led to extended lockdowns in the country’s major cities. A two-year border closure separated families and earned Australia a reputation as a hermit state.