The Australian head of state does not want to say who could attend the Tokyo summit


Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison declined to say on Wednesday who might represent the nation at a summit with US, Indian and Japanese leaders in Tokyo just three days after Australia’s general election on Saturday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there were “conventions” on how to handle the election but did not elaborate on how those conventions would work if the result was close.

“I’m sure they will be introduced depending on the outcome of this Saturday’s election,” Morrison said.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said he would be sworn in as prime minister as early as Sunday or Monday to attend Tuesday’s summit of the Indo-Pacific strategic alliance known as the Quad.

“I will visit the Quad and renew my acquaintance with President (Joe) Biden, but also, very importantly, meet (Japanese) Prime Minister (Fumio) Kishida and (Indian Prime Minister) Narendra Modi, who are important friends of Australia.” , said Albanese told the Australian newspaper.

Sydney University constitutional law expert Anne Twomey has said Morrison must step down as prime minister before Governor-General David Hurley Albanese can be sworn in.

Custody conventions have limited the government’s options since April 10, when Morrison called the election. But conventions are not binding.

“If the outcome is unclear, then the Prime Minister is still the Prime Minister. He remains prime minister and has all the powers of prime minister until his resignation,” Twomey said.

“Janitorial conventions in these circumstances would normally dictate that you couldn’t be walking around doing important things, making policy announcements and stuff like that,” she added.

Morrison and Albanese could go to Tokyo together if the election result looks uncertain, she said.

The published conventions offer a range of options for an Acting Prime Minister undertaking a foreign visit or international negotiations.

The prime minister could adopt “observer status” at the Tokyo summit or seek opposition support for negotiating positions.

Australian opposition senator Penny Wong said she would accompany Albanese to Tokyo as foreign secretary if her centre-left Labor party wins.

“The first visit will be to Japan for the Quad leadership meeting, which will also be attended by a number of foreign ministers,” Wong told Australian Broadcasting Corp last week.

“My hope would have been and Anthony has said that if we were elected it would have been his first visit and certainly my first visit to Indonesia. But of course, the first overseas visit for him would be the Quad leaders meeting in Japan,” Wong said.

Indonesia is traditionally the first overseas destination for a new Australian Prime Minister, underscoring the importance of these bilateral ties.

On the night of the Australian election, it is usually clear which party will win a majority of seats in the House of Representatives and form the government.

But opinion polls suggest the weekend’s election will be close and could result in a hung parliament with neither the Conservative coalition nor the Labor Party having a majority.

Postal votes are also increasing in this election as voters avoid the pandemic risk at the polling stations. The counting of postal votes takes longer.

It took Labor 17 days after the 2010 election to secure the support of enough independent lawmakers to form a minority government. The Australian head of state does not want to say who could attend the Tokyo summit

Bobby Allyn

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