Anthony Albanese did not mention the Queen or God when he was sworn in as Australia’s 31st Prime Minister – one of a series of major symbolic differences from his predecessor Scott Morrison.
In another change, the Labor leader only opened his first press conference as Prime Minister after having staff replace two of the three Australian flags behind the podium in the Blue Room of Parliament with the Aboriginal crests and Torres Strait Islanders.
Mr Albanese is also taking Foreign Secretary Penny Wong with him to meet international leaders at the Quad Summit in Japan, unlike the normal convention of such a meeting where the Prime Minister would travel solo.
The three changes mark a significant departure from the way Mr Morrison has done things – and surprised many Australians despite Mr Albanese saying he wants to change ‘the way politics is done’ in Australia.
Anthony Albanese (left) opted for a civil affirmation when he was sworn in as Australia’s 31st Prime Minister
The first clear difference between Mr Albanese and Mr Morrison was evident when Mr Albanese was sworn in as Prime Minister.
“I, Anthony Norman Albanese, solemnly and sincerely affirm and declare that I will serve the Commonwealth of Australia, its land and its people well and truly as Prime Minister,” the new leader said.
Mr Albanese took a civil affirmation, rather than a religious pledge, and chose not to utter the traditional “so help me God”, which is sometimes a feature of these events.
The difference could not be more stark with what former Prime Minister Scott Morrison said almost five years ago.
Mr Morrison pledged: “I, Scott John Morrison, swear that I will serve the people of Australia well and truly as Prime Minister and that I will be true and faithful to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia , so help me God.
Mr Morrison is a devout Christian – while Mr Albanese has shown little of his religious views during the election campaign.
He has described himself as a ‘non-practicing Catholic’ – having been educated at St Joseph’s Primary School, Camperdown and St Mary’s Cathedral College. He has already said that faith is a personal matter for him.
This did not go unnoticed by the media when Mr Albanese made another change on his first day. Ahead of his first speech as sworn leader, staff replaced two of the three Australian flags behind the Parliament podium with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags.
On Monday, staff replaced two Australian flags in the Blue Room of Parliament with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander badges
The monumental change comes after Labor announced it had taken a step forward to ‘deliver on the promise of the Uluru Declaration from the Heart’ – which would see the introduction of an Indigenous ‘voice in Parliament’.
“I look forward to leading a government that makes Australians proud,” Mr Albanese told reporters on Monday.
“A government that does not seek to divide, that does not seek to have corners but that seeks to bring people together for our common interest and our common goal.”
Shortly after, Mr. Albanese and Foreign Secretary Penny Wong boarded a plane to Japan, where they will meet international leaders at the Quad Summit.
The couple will meet US President Joe, Biden, host chef Fumio Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mr Albanese was criticized last week for his intention to swear in himself and Ms Wong immediately after the election results so the couple could attend the Quad Summit, which begins tomorrow.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags will now fly behind new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (pictured with his bench) during press conferences in Parliament
He argued that the Labor caucus would not have time to meet in Canberra to elect ministers, as party rules require.
It is also unusual for a prime minister to be sworn in – and then leave the country immediately.
Mr Albanese told The Australian last week: ‘We are not anticipating the outcome (of the election) but clearly Australian officials have asked us what our intention will be and we have indicated that if we are successful, the intention would be to go.
“If we are successful on Saturday, I intend to go to the Quad leaders’ meeting to represent Australia (as Prime Minister),” Mr Albanese said. “If it’s not clear, we would seek advice.”
Mr Albanese’s preemptive comments have been criticized by senior Liberals, including Peter Dutton, who could become the new coalition leader within days. Mr Dutton said it was unusual for Mr Albanese to take his foreign secretary on a leadership trip.
He accused Mr Albanese of making a costly mistake similar to that made by former Opposition leader Bill Shorten, who booked the movers to move into The Lodge days after the 2019 election.
“It seems a lot like he takes people’s support for granted,” Mr Dutton told 2GB last Wednesday.
“Already packing and preparing the passport to go abroad before the counting of the final votes reminds me a lot of what Bill Shorten did.”
“Assuming that you have already become prime minister, or are about to become prime minister, I think hubris is broadly defined.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and new Foreign Minister Penny Wong traveled to Japan for the Quad Summit
How Scott Morrison’s last day in office at church
Scott Morrison, meanwhile, spent his first day on the job Sunday in assist his weekly Pentecostal service where he addressed his fellow parishioners in a tearful address.
“Whether you’re prime minister, pastor, running a business, teaching in schools, working in the police, it doesn’t matter,” he told the audience at Horizon Church in the Sutherland Shire. from Sydney.
“We are all called to trust and obey. And it is the life of faith to which He calls us. It’s how we live our faith every day, whatever your job, and express it in the way you do it.
Outgoing Prime Minister Scott Morrison broke down in tears as he addressed his church on Sunday (pictured)
“You gave us a great base from which to walk what has been a very difficult walk, I have to tell you, over the last four years.
“I’m very happy that the last thing I say as Prime Minister is here, so I’m not going to trust my own words.
Mr. Morrison collected his thoughts before quoting from Habakkuk 3:17.
“Even if the fig tree does not flower and there is no fruit on the vines, if the yield of the olive tree is low and if the fields do not produce food, even if the herd is cut off from the sheepfold and there are no cattle in the stalls, but I will triumph in the Lord,” he read.
‘I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.’
Anthony Albanese (pictured with Governor General David Hurley) opted out of the traditional ‘so help me God’ at the end of his oath