ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: Thanks very much. This will be a short press conference for reasons that are obvious for those of you who are travelling with us to Tokyo.
I am incredibly honoured and humbled to have been sworn in as Australia's 31st Prime Minister. Australians have voted for change. And my Government intends to implement that change in an orderly way.
This morning, we had sworn in the interim Ministry that you see before you here in order to enable myself and Senator Wong to visit Tokyo for the Quad leaders meeting. In Tokyo, we will also have important bilateral meetings with President Biden, Prime Minister Kishida and Prime Minister Modi. I received a phone call last night and had a very fruitful and positive conversation, renewing my acquaintance with President Biden. The relationship with the United States is our most important, along with our relationships in the region and our multilateral commitments as well. The meetings that we will have, not just with the United States, but importantly with our hosts in Japan and India are going to be very important, in a good way, to send a message to the world that there's a new Government in Australia and it's a Government that represents a change, in terms of the way that we deal with the world on issues like climate change, but also a continuity in the way that we have respect for democracy and the way that we value our friendships and long-time alliances.
The Caucus will then meet next Tuesday. We will then have a swearing in of the full Ministry next Wednesday morning. And then I will convene the first meeting of the new Ministry. We just had an informal meeting of this group. We will have a meeting of the Ministry next Wednesday, along with meetings of the appropriate Cabinet committees, including the NSC and the ERC.
I met with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet yesterday. And I thank them for their professionalism. It was a reminder, as a former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister, of how valued our public servants are. We won't be sacking public servants either. We will be valuing public servants and respecting them. The fact that we were able to have discussions and put measures in place to allow whatever the outcome of the result on Saturday, for those arrangements to be put in place, says a lot about how professional our public servants are. We should not take it for granted.
We will return on Wednesday and set about implementing our agenda. Our agenda that's received the endorsement of the Australian people. Our National Reconstruction Fund, our Powering Australia plan to deal with the opportunities that come with acting on climate change. Our full implementation of the Respect@Work report recommendations. Affordable child care, fixing the aged care crisis, strengthening Medicare.
I said on Saturday that the ‘how’ was just as important as the ‘what’ and indeed it is. I want to bring people together and I want to change the way that politics is conducted in this country. We will establish a National Anti-Corruption Commission. And I have asked for that work to begin already. I will bring together an employment summit. And I thank those people in the business community and in the trade union movement for the discussions that we have had already about the way that can be progressed. And we will, of course, be advancing the need to have constitutional recognition of First Nations people, including a Voice to Parliament that is enshrined in that Constitution.
I look forward to leading a Government that makes Australians proud. A Government that doesn't seek to divide, that doesn't seek to have wedges, but seeks to bring people together for our common interest and our common purpose. I think that is one of the messages that came through on Saturday. People do have conflict fatigue. They want to work with people. And I will work with people, whether it's the crossbenchers, or the Opposition, to try to, wherever possible, get agreement. It is the way that I ran the Labor Party from the day that I became Labor Leader, not Opposition Leader. I do believe that we can do politics better. And I hope to do so. Happy to take just a few questions.
JOURNALIST: Congratulations, firstly on your win. What will you do, Prime Minister, have you had discussions already about – you don't have a majority – have you already had discussions with the crossbench and minor parties about confidence and supply?
PRIME MINISTER: Thanks for that question. I am hopeful that we will receive a majority of Members of the House of Representatives. At this stage, that looks most likely. But counting continues. But my expectation is that we have a majority in the Labor Caucus. I have received and have had discussions with the existing members of the crossbench and received confirmation from Rebekha Sharkie, Bob Katter, Andrew Wilkie, Helen Haines and Zali Steggall, that they would not support any no confidence motions against the Government and that they would also secure supply. It is important that we respect the outcome of the election on Saturday. I have stuck to what I said before the election, as have they. They will consider legislation on its merits. I expect that to be the case. I will treat them with respect.
JOURNALIST: When do you want Parliament to resume? And how are you feeling? Are you ready?
PRIME MINISTER: I am ready. I have been getting ready for some time. And Parliament – I have had discussions with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet about a timetable. I read in one paper this morning that the Liberal Party might have its Caucus meeting if Parliament sits next week. I can confirm that Parliament won't be sitting until the writs are returned, which won't be certainly next week. We will sit at some stage before the end of July. But we will wait. It may well be much earlier than that. We will await the advice of Prime Minister and Cabinet. There are a range of issues. There is a number of international events, some of which are public, some of which are not, which need to be accommodated. The other issue is I will try to run a family-friendly Parliament. There are school holidays in July that have been pointed out as well. But we will resume Parliament in a very orderly way.
JOURNALIST: You said a minute ago that the incoming Labor Government is not going to sack public servants. You indicated you wanted new leadership at the head of PM&C. I am interested in whether you have a candidate in mind? Labor will have done a transition to government plan. I am quite interested in what you are able to tell us about machinery of government changes, or reallocation of portfolios. What is your thinking of both of those points?
PRIME MINISTER: Thanks. Stephanie Foster is the Acting Head of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, as of yesterday. I will be making an announcement at an appropriate time after we go through the formal procedures, which are in place, for the appointment of a secretary of Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
JOURNALIST: One of the big issues for you in this term is China. My question is to you or the Foreign Minister, or both of you, now you are in office, do you see an opportunity to maybe cool things down? You have said they are more aggressive. Everyone agrees they have been aggressive and so on. On this crucial issue for our nation, do you see a chance to try and take a bit of the heat out of it?
PRIME MINISTER: What I have said, and we maintain, is that the relationship with China will remain a difficult one. I said that before the election. That has not changed. It is China that has changed, not Australia. And Australia should always stand up for our values. And we will in a Government that I lead. You will not get the call earlier because you yell. On day one, get that clear. Can I make the point though, that what we should do is put Australia's national interests first and not attempt to play politics with national security issues. I think we saw some politics played with national security issues on Saturday afternoon. And there are millions of Australians who received text messages on Saturday afternoon that demonstrated that is the case. What I will do as the Prime Minister, and my Foreign Minister, Senator Wong will do, is put Australia's national interests first, put Australia's values first. And now, on that note, speaking of overseas, we have a plane to catch. Thank you very much. See you there.