PM returns to Canberra after debut on world stage

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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will immediately get to work on Labor’s priorities including climate action and child care when he returns from Japan.

While the new government has started work on the world stage, economic and security pressures were already being tackled at home, Treasurer Jim Chalmers said.

“We want to govern for everyone no matter how they voted [and] no matter where they live in Australia, because we need to address these big challenges together,” he told ABC News Breakfast.

Mr Albanese was in Tokyo on Tuesday to meet US President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Nahrendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the Quad summit.

He reaffirmed Australia’s support for Ukraine and said more aid would be considered.

Mr Albanese said his government would strengthen climate policies under “Australia’s changed position”.

He, along with Foreign Minister Penny Wong, were thrust onto the world stage after taking office on Monday following last week’s federal election.

When Mr Albanese returns from overseas on Wednesday, he will set about his agenda, with major commitments including universal child care and a national anti-corruption watchdog.

The full front bench will be sworn in next week after the Labor caucus meets.

Meanwhile, the new government has turned back its first asylum seeker boat.

An Australian Border Force spokesman said Operation Sovereign Borders safely returned the boat back to Sri Lanka on Tuesday after it had been intercepted near Christmas Island on Saturday.

Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles gave the order for the turnback.

The publication of the boat’s interception by the outgoing Coalition on election day was “disappointing”, Mr Chalmers said.

“These tricky decisions, difficult decisions are managed consistent with Operation Sovereign Borders in a nonpartisan way,” he said,

“The former government breached that in an effort to try and change the election result on Saturday afternoon.”

The turnback directive has been condemned by Human Rights Watch’s Australia researcher Sophie McNeill, who called on Mr Albanese to “end this cruel policy”.

“This is a violation of Australia’s legal obligation not to commit refoulement – the forced return of people to places where their lives or freedom would be threatened or where they would face a risk of torture or inhumane and degrading treatment,” Ms McNeill said.

“Implementing a blanket turn back the boats policy is not legal or humane. It is also inconsistent with Australia’s obligations under domestic and international law to protect the right to life and rescue persons in distress at sea.”

-AAP

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