Australia’s prime minister has conceded defeat after an election that could deliver a minority government.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison acted quickly after Saturday’s election despite millions of votes yet to be counted because an Australian prime minister must attend a Tokyo summit on Tuesday with US, Japanese and Indian leaders.
“I believe it’s very important that this country has certainty. I think it’s very important this country can move forward,” Morrison said.
“And particularly over the course of this week with the important meetings that are being held, I think it’s vitally important there’s a very clear understanding about the government of this country,” he added.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese will be sworn in as prime minister after his Labour party clenched its first electoral win since 2007.
His coalition holds the narrowest of majorities — 76 seats in the 151-member House of Representatives, where parties need a majority to form a government.
In early counting on Saturday, the coalition was on track to win 38 seats, Labour 71, seven were unaligned lawmakers and 23 were too close to call.
The father of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said the election of a Labor government is a “great opportunity” for the movement to free the WikiLeaks founder from imprisonment.
Speaking at a Sydney Q&A screening of documentary Ithaka, which documents his efforts to free Assange, John Shipton said a groundswell of parliamentarian support was growing for his son’s plight and he was buoyed up by the prospect of an incoming Labor government.
“Of course things would change [if Labor were elected] … this is a great opportunity for us,” he said.
“A fresh parliament has a lot of room to move … I speak to many of them. They don’t want this hanging around their neck like an albatross.”
Shipton said he had had several lunches with Anthony Albanese, and had been assured the opposition leader would do “whatever he can” to free his son and “enough’s enough”.
The 76-year-old said when he began advocating for Assange in 2019, two parliamentarians supported him – independent MP Andrew Wilkie and Greens senator for Tasmania Peter Whish-Wilson.
“Now there are 29 and peripherally, there are other supporters,” he said.
“The deputy prime minister while in the US … said publicly … that Julian ought to be charged if he’s done anything in the UK … other than that, send him home.
“There’s a core in the Labor party, there’s a core in the National party, the Greens are all supporting [Julian] … it’s a popular concern and parliamentarians recognise that.”