SYDNEY (AP) — Veteran Sydney lawmaker Anthony Albanese will become Australia’s new opposition leader this week, after being made head of the Labor Party on Monday.
Albanese took control of the country’s main opposition party when he stood unopposed to replace Bill Shorten, who resigned as opposition leader after Labor’s unexpected loss to Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s conservative government in the May 18 general election.
A member of Parliament for 23 years, Albanese served as a Cabinet minister under Labor governments from 2007 to 2013, and was briefly deputy prime minister under Kevin Rudd in the last of those six years.
Albanese, 56, told a news conference Monday that he would hold Prime Minister Morrison’s newly reelected government to account, but would not be an opposition leader who routinely opposes all government initiatives.
“I will hold his government to account, strongly, forcefully,” Albanese said, adding, however, that “people want solutions, not arguments. They have conflict fatigue. Some reforms require bipartisan support.”
These, he said, would include finding a bipartisan way to finally give indigenous Australians recognition in the nation’s constitution, and providing businesses with certainty on the country’s energy policy, a long-term contentious area for reasons such as government support for fossil fuels.
“The time for the ongoing conflict on these issues surely is over,” Albanese said.
He pledged to “serve all Australians” as opposition leader, and to reach out to the one-in-four voters who didn’t vote for either of the country’s two main power bases — center-left Labor, or Morrison’s coalition — in the election.
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