opinion

Editorial: Much to do for new PM

EditorialThe West Australian
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And so after the celebrations, the Government of Anthony Albanese must get to work. And there is much to be done.
Camera IconAnd so after the celebrations, the Government of Anthony Albanese must get to work. And there is much to be done. Credit: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

And so after the celebrations, the Government of Anthony Albanese must get to work. And there is much to be done.

Mr Albanese wasted no time, and after being sworn in flew to Japan for high-level security talks. Mr Albanese met US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue summit.

Afterwards, Mr Albanese said the other Quad leaders welcomed Labor’s ambitious position on climate change.

It was a fruitful meeting for Mr Albanese, who clearly established a good early rapport, most obviously with Mr Biden.

The meetings came as Mr Albanese said he had received a note from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang congratulating him on his election victory, suggesting a possible reset in diplomatic relations.

“We will respond appropriately in time when I return to Australia,” he said.

It was a positive sign but needs to be handled sensitively and carefully, and came before a new round of tensions over relations in the Pacific.

New Foreign Minister Penny Wong, who accompanied the Labor leader to Tokyo, then flew to Fiji in her first solo trip in the role. Her travel coincides with an eight-country trip to the region by China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, amid a growing competition for influence in the Pacific. On Thursday Senator Wong promised to treat Pacific island countries with respect, telling an audience in Fiji that Australia is “a partner that doesn’t come with strings attached” and won’t “impose unsustainable financial burdens”.

Senator Wong also vowed to “put more energy and resources” into the Pacific and said Australia under past governments had “neglected its responsibility to act on climate”, but she wanted to “assure you that we have heard you”.

Labor senator Penny Wong, flanked by Labor's candidate for Cowan, during a tour at Lansdale manufacturing company Adarsh Australia.
Camera IconSenator Wong also vowed to ‘put more energy and resources’. Credit: Nic Ellis/The West Australian

The domestic agenda presents immediate issues too. The new Government, which now has access to the nation’s books, has already signalled there are challenges ahead, not the least of which will be tackling the rising cost of living and wages squeeze hitting many families, as well as overcoming the skills and labour shortages holding back businesses.

Acknowledging the role WA’s swing to Labor played in delivering him to government, Mr Albanese told The West Australian that he had chosen Perth and either Port Hedland, Karratha or another regional city to hold two separate Cabinet meetings in the next year.

Of course, one of the key messages that WA wants Mr Albanese to hear is that as other States circle WA’s share of GST funding, this State’s allocation must not be reduced.

Mr Albanese would not commit to making the State’s share of GST revenue a “forever deal” as his predecessor did. However, Mr Albanese said he would not be touching the GST deal before the next Federal election in 2025. That is merely a start and the bare minimum.

On Saturday the new PM followed a long tradition of public exercise by Australian leaders with a spot of tennis at his local Sydney club. In his beloved South Sydney Rabbitohs cap, Mr Albanese served up some tough competition.

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