Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has addressed Scott Morrison’s decision to travel to Tokyo in favour of attending the first week of the 47th Parliament.
Albanese spoke to reporters on Tuesday, July 26 in the lead-up to the first parliamentary sitting since the Coalition lost the Federal Election in May. When questioned as to whether Morrison’s absence was “disrespectful”, the PM offered a brief response.
“It’s a matter for him,” Albanese said.
Morrison will forgo the first week of Parliament to attend a speaking engagement in Tokyo. Despite the scheduling conflict, Morrison made it clear that all concerned parties were made aware of his absence before the release of this year’s parliamentary schedule.
“Prior to the new Government advising the sitting schedule for the remainder of 2022, I had already accepted an invitation to join other former Prime Ministers from Canada, the UK and New Zealand to address an international event to be held in Tokyo this week,” he said in a statement to news.com.au.
“Both the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition were advised of my intended travel and absence from the parliament this week.”
Morrison will attend a series of meetings with Japanese political and business leaders while in Tokyo and has reportedly advised he will be in attendance for the second week of parliament.
Despite Morrison’s absence, the 47th Parliament sat for the first time on Tuesday with Albanese declaring that the “momentous day” is the beginning of “change”.
Today is a momentous day. The new Parliament will sit for the first time.
On election day Australians voted for change and today we meet in Canberra to deliver on it. pic.twitter.com/UMHz8ecNEl
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) July 25, 2022
Albanese marked the new Parliament’s official opening with a “moment of reflection” in church. Speaking to reporters before the sitting, the PM spoke on the upcoming focus of the new Parliament.
“Today is a momentous day. It’s a day that confirms the change of government when the new Parliament sits for the first time,” Albanese said.
“I said on election night, on May 21, that Australians voted for change and indeed they did. And we have a mandate to implement that change.
“I want to see a Parliament that functions much better than the last one. One where there’s genuine debate and dialogue and discussion. I want more unity, less division. I want to bring the country together with a sense of our common purpose which is there. We have big challenges as a nation going forward.
“There are challenges with our economy, there are challenges with inequality in our society, but there’s also international challenges as well, in defence and our national security. Challenges that have been highlighted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but challenges as well that are in the Indo-Pacific region.”
Albanese announced that this week’s primary focus will be on making aged care better for the “older Australians” who” built this country”.