News National PM returns to Canberra after debut on world stage
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PM returns to Canberra after debut on world stage

Quad talks over, Anthony Albanese heads home

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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.

Mr Albanese said there were important discussions about democracy, regional security and the rule of law during his Quad meeting with the US president and Indian and Japanese PMs.

In particular, the four leaders discussed Australia improving its engagement on climate change, Mr Albanese said.

“There are many consistencies in Australia’s national security positions but there are some differences with the former Australian government particularly when it comes to climate change,” he said in Tokyo on Wednesday.

“It’s been a very positive way to start a new government.”

Mr Albanese has been invited by his counterparts to visit the US, and India and said dates for that would be worked out soon.

Australia will host a Quad summit next year, he said.

While the incoming 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.

While in Tokyo, Mr Albanese reaffirmed Australia’s support for Ukraine and said more aid would be considered.

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.

“I look forward to engaging again with domestic issues and doing work on the structure and personnel in the incoming government in the days ahead,” he said.

The full front bench will be sworn in early 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 to Sri Lanka on Tuesday after it was intercepted near Christmas Island on Saturday.

Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles gave the order.

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.”

Former home affairs minister Karen Andrews has denied any knowledge of the text messages sent to voters about the boat on Saturday.

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”.

“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,” Ms McNeil said.

-AAP