Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says he will not underestimate Peter Dutton as the most likely contender to lead the Liberal Party.
When asked by Sky News whether Mr Dutton’s leadership will be considered a “blessing” for the Labor government, the prime minister warned against undermining others.
“I never underestimate my opponents,” he told Sunday Agenda.
“I’ve been underestimated my whole life. I think there are some people who are regretting underestimating me over the last three years.
“I did exactly what I said I would do … and I sit here today with a different title having the honour of being prime minister.”
Mr Albanese said he would maintain respectful ties with the likely opposition leader.
“I’ll treat Peter Dutton with respect if we can get some agreement from him that would be good on measures we have a mandate for.
“I think he needs to respect the mandate that we have on a range of areas that are very clear and we want to get to work on that.”
Mr Albanese said he would also respect a larger crossbench with the inclusion of ‘teal’ independents.
“One of the reasons we were able to form government in 2010 in that hung parliament is because the crossbench knew that they had been treated with respect by us,” Mr Albanese said.
He said the independents ran on issues such as stronger action on climate change, which Labor intends to tackle.
“We’ll talk to people across the parliament and I am confident that we’ll give Australia a good government that provides the change that is necessary and brings people with us on the journey of change,” he said.
The prime minister also admitted there were lessons to be learned after Kristina Keneally suffered a significant defeat in Fowler after being parachuted into the safe Labor seat.
Ms Kenneally lost to independent MP and local resident Dai Le in a huge 16.4 per cent swing away from Labor.
Community anger bubbled over in the southwestern Sydney seat, one of Australia’s most multicultural electorates, after .
“You have to learn lessons from an outcome like that. And I think the lessons are very clear, that the community sent a message,” Mr Albanese said.
“It is a loss, but you have to accept outcomes in democratic processes. But you also have to learn from them.”
Mr Dutton, with Sussan Ley as his deputy, is expected to be voted in as the Coalition’s new leader in a ballot on Monday, .
He has expressed his willingness to soften his hard persona often seen by the general public in his former ministerial roles in home affairs and defence.
It comes as Nationals deputy David Littleproud announced on Saturday he will run against Barnaby Joyce for the party’s leadership.
“This afternoon I advised Barnaby Joyce of my intention to nominate for the position of leader of The Nationals,” he said in a statement released on Saturday.
“I also took the opportunity to thank him for all his service to our party.
“I feel this is the appropriate time to put myself forward for my party room’s consideration as their leader.”
Former veterans affairs minister Darren Chester has also put his hand up for the role.
The junior coalition partner will have its first post-election meeting on Monday where they will spill the leadership.
Albanese celebrates new diverse parliament
Mr Albanese also spoke on Sunday on the cultural and gender diversity of his new government as it begins to take shape.
in what he says is a win for multicultural Australia.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong is also the first foreign minister in the country’s history to be born outside Australia.
“Parliament should reflect the nation and we’re a diverse multicultural nation. And it’s a good thing that we’re more representative in the 2022 parliament than we ever have been before,” he said.
Mr Albanese also praised the , with at least 18 new women to enter the House of Representatives.
“We have a whole range of people, and importantly, the parliament elected a whole lot of new women, not just from Labor, but from the crossbenchers as well, which is a very good thing.”
Labor warns of challenges as budget gets revamp
Finance Minister Katy Gallagher has flagged the government is working towards an October deadline to deliver a challenging federal budget under the Labor government.
Senator Gallagher said her team are reviewing the budget inherited to them from the Coalition “line by line” to make amendments.
“We are inheriting a very serious set of economic and budget challenges, and we don’t want to pretend it is anything but that,” she told ABC’s Insiders program.
Minister for Finance Katy Gallagher at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra. Source: AAP / Mick Tsikas
“We need to be up-front with the Australian community about that.”
Senator Gallagher says there are budget pressures coming in terms of areas such as health, aged care, the NDIS, defence and national security, all of which are growing faster than the economy.
But she said Mr Albanese had also committed to the budget having a “cost-of-living lens” applied to it to see what was possible.
She also reiterated it was unlikely that the halving of fuel excise introduced by the previous government would be extended beyond September, saying it comes in at around $3 billion for a six-month period.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers will also provide an economic update when parliament resumes in June or July.
Labor one seat away from majority
Meanwhile, Labor’s hopes for majority government are now pinned on three electorates after a fourth lower house seat went to the Greens.
The major parties both received record-low primary votes, but Mr Albanese pointed to voters in traditional blue-ribbon seats putting independents as number one.
Deakin and Macnamara in Victoria and Gilmore in NSW are the three seats that remain close.
Labor needs 76 seats to gain a majority in the lower house of federal parliament, with the party sitting on 75.
Liberal MP Michael Sukkar is 655 votes ahead of Labor’s candidate Matt Gregg in Victoria’s Deakin electorate, which has recorded a roughly 4 per cent swing to Labor.
In Macnamara, incumbent Labor MP Josh Burns has taken a slight lead over his Greens rival Steph Hodgins-May with Liberal candidate Colleen Harkin trailing.
In NSW, sitting Labor MP Fiona Phillips is 214 votes behind Liberal candidate Andrew Constance in Gilmore, with postal votes slightly favouring Mr Constance.
Even with Labor’s final count in Parliament House uncertain, the party will hold a caucus meeting on Tuesday before its new ministry is sworn in on Wednesday.
, with sitting Liberal MP Trevor Evans relinquishing the seat to Stephen Bates after a tight contest between Mr Bates and Labor’s candidate.