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Albanese sworn in as majority government nears

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Labor leader Anthony Albanese has been sworn in as Australia’s 31st Prime Minister, with Labor one seat short of forming majority government as counting continues.

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Albanese was sworn in by Governor General David Hurley along with Penny Wong, Richard Marles, Katy Gallagher and Jim Chalmers at a ceremony at Government House on Monday morning.

Marles becomes Employment Minister and Deputy PM. He will be acting prime minister after Albanese leaves for Japan for the Quad meeting later on Monday.

Senator Penny Wong is Minister for Foreign Affairs and will fly to Tokyo with Albanese.

Dr Chalmers is the new Treasurer and Senator Gallagher is Attorney-General, Minister for Women and Minister for Finance.

The rest of the Labor ministry will be sworn in at a later date.

As of Monday lunchtime, the Australian Electoral Commission had Labor on 75 seats in the House of Representatives – one short of a majority.

The Liberal-National coalition was holding 58 seats, while twelve seats remain in doubt as counting continues this week.

Albanese said he was “hopeful” Labor would win a majority in the Lower House.

“At this stage that looks most likely, but of course counting continues,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“But my expectation is that we have a majority in the Labor caucus.”

The prime minister expects the first sitting week of the 47th parliament to be held by the end of July.

“I will try to run a family-friendly parliament,” he said, noting school holidays were scheduled for July.

A swathe of incoming independents are expected to make a crossbench of at least 15 members.

Crossbench MPs Rebekha Sharkie, Bob Katter, Zali Steggall, Andrew Wilkie and Helen Haines have already confirmed they would not support a vote of no confidence against the new government, Albanese said.

“It is important that we respect the outcome of the election on Saturday … I will treat (crossbenchers) with respect,” the prime minister said.

Gallagher said Albanese’s skillset was ideal for dealing with the enlarged crossbench presence.

“We’re going to have a bigger crossbench without a doubt and Anthony is exactly the type of prime minister who has the skills and strength to deal with that,” she said.

“The people of Australia voted for change on the weekend, not just in terms of government, they voted in terms of change about how they want to see the parliament work and Anthony’s just the right guy for the job to deal with that.”

Chalmers said that work to audit the existing budget had already begun and he expected to deliver Labor’s first budget in nine years at the end of October.

“This is probably the trickiest set of economic conditions that a new government and new treasurer has inherited,” he said.

A third of voters supported a minor party with their first preference, and senior Labor figure Tanya Plibersek said the incoming government would learn from the recent campaign to address voter dissatisfaction.

Plibersek, who is expected to take on the education portfolio, said that once the dust had settled after the election Labor needed to have a close look at why people were turning away from the major parties.

Meanwhile, Albanese confirmed this morning that the head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Phil Gaetjens has been temporarily replaced by deputy secretary Stephanie Foster.

“I will be making an announcement at an appropriate time after we go through the formal procedures which are in place for the appointment of a secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet,” Albanese said.

-AAP

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