Albanese and Wong arrive in Japan for Quad with a big payout to Australia
Albanese and Wong arrive in Japan for Quad with a big payout to Australia

Albanese and Wong arrive in Japan for Quad with a big payout to Australia

Talk about jumping into the deep end.

The wheels on Anthony Albanese’s new pair of wings left the Canberra asphalt at exactly 12: 10.32 on Monday.

He had only officially been Prime Minister for three hours and five minutes, and here he was, on his way to Tokyo on RAAF’s KC-30A, on his way to a critical meeting with world leaders with the US President as the headline.

Albanese has chosen an extraordinary international inauguration.

After a grim six-week tug-of-war with Scott Morrison, what a sweet confirmation it could have felt to fly away in his predecessor’s jet as Australia’s man.

Not that Albanese have had much time for such pinch-yourself moments. He knows he has a huge task ahead of him, namely to protect the nation’s interests abroad while trying to make his own mark on the countryside.

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Anthony Albanese goes to Tokyo for the Quad meeting

Conflict fatigue

Albanese’s first press conference as prime minister, shortly before he left Canberra, was instructive on both fronts.

He said he wanted to lead a government that “makes Australians proud” and “change the way politics was conducted”, noting that Australians had conflict fatigue.

These are admirable, high emotions. It would be unfair not to think that this is his sincere intention. But even Tony Abbott, Parliament’s famous pugilist, said he wanted a “gentler policy” when he became prime minister, but he could not resist the scrum and returned to writing.

As for Australia’s international prospects, Albanians promised continuity in key alliances and the projection of democracy.

This was a message to Australia’s allies, but also to Beijing: The other guy is gone, but Australia’s commitment to rule-based order and resistance to Chinese aggression remains firm.

Changing climate

What he signaled would change was Australia’s global climate change agreements, which is the key reason why Albanese were so keen to attend the Quad meeting in Tokyo so soon after the election.

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