Public servants watching jet-setting prime minister

By Chris Johnson

May 25, 2022

Penny Wong-Anthony Albanese
Penny Wong and Anthony Albanese at the Quad meeting. (Kyodo via AP Images)

It’s early days, but Australia’s new prime minister is off to a flying start – literally – and the public service is closely watching.

Almost immediately after being sworn into office on Monday, Anthony Albanese was on a plane to Tokyo.

There to attend the Quad meeting with leaders from the US, Japan and India, the fledgling Australian prime minister was warmly welcomed to the forum and again during its accompanying bilateral meetings. 

He’s now on his way home, having made what can only be described as an excellent initial impression on the world stage.

That will come as good news to officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, knowing they don’t have a fool in the Lodge and that the new PM is keen on, and skilled in, the use of diplomacy.

But it is obvious too that he is not going to be a pushover when it comes to international relations and the protection of Australia’s national interest and security.

In relation to the Quad summit, Albanese has expressed its importance to Australia and praised the democratic values each member-nation shares. 

“Our position… is the support for the rule of law. Making sure of the values which Australia’s nation is built on, which we share with these other great democracies,” he said after the meeting.

China is a concern, but there are very early indications that Canberra’s relationship with Beijing might marginally improve,  

The prime minister also delivered another clear message to the summit, which was roundly applauded and which should send Australian public servants across a number of agencies into a heightened state of preparedness.

“Today was also an opportunity for myself, as the new Australian prime minister, to indicate Australia’s changed position on climate,” he said.

“That has been welcomed by these three nations in the Quad. And they welcomed it because it will strengthen what is an important issue in the Indo-Pacific. 

“We know that China is seeking to exert more influence in the Pacific. And we know that climate change is such an important issue. I share the view that this is a national security issue. 

“Climate change is not just about the environment, it’s about the shape of our economies, but also our national security going forward.”

A collective sigh of relief was heard across the public service with the election of the new prime minister and his positive overtures to the workforce he inherits. 

And as honeymoons go, Albo is so far having a good one. But it is still just his honeymoon period.


READ MORE:

Kevin Rudd: Australia’s China policy requires a ‘realist premise’

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