Australia news live updates: Dutton confirms bid for Liberal leadership; Albanese flags need to ‘respond’ to China’s Pacific plan

Albanese is also asked if the French president has congratulated him:

I have had an exchange with the President of France and it was a very positive exchange and I have been overwhelmed by the positive response that I have received.

Albanese is being grilled on his Pacific policy, asked if his funding announcements of an extra $525 million over four years is an attempt to buy back the support of the Pacific Nations, which Albanese rejects:

It is not just about funding, it is also about respect. The fact that the funding was slashed when the former government came to office in its 2014 Budget, Australia – there is a price that you pay for that.

The fact that there were comments made about climate change, which they regard – even during the election campaign, when I said climate change is a national security issue, that was dismissed.

The fact is that the US has considered it is a national security issue as well and all of the leaders, be it President Biden, Prime Minister Kishida or Prime Minister Modi, all agree it is a national security issue but for our Pacific Island neighbours, they consider climate change is an existential threat to their very existence.

This is an area where Australia’s changed position on climate change, where we will join with the rest of the world in global action but where we will also support our Pacific Island neighbours with infrastructure to lower their emissions and to help their energy systems to transition. These are all measures that we can take which will be well received in the region, as they were by the QUAD leaders.

Albanese says Australia needs to “respond” to China’s Pacific plan

The PM is on ABC’s News Breakfast this morning, and was asked about China’s plans to meet with a number of Pacific Island Nations, with Albanese saying the situation was a failure of the past government:

That is why the complacency that was there from the former government in rejecting the proposal from former Foreign Minister Marise Payne is so inexplicable, when former Minister Payne was arguing for an increase in aid, this was the context in which the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade were putting forward, that submission to the budget process.

We need to step up, genuinely, into the Pacific, that is why Penny Wong, my Foreign Minister who arrived back with me from Tokyo just last night, is already on her way to Fiji to inform the government there that we want to step up.

We have a comprehensive plan of defence training for Australia and the Pacific, for increased support for their maritime security to protect their fishing stocks, for increased support for climate change infrastructure that’s required for increased aid over half a billion dollars of additional aid into the Pacific, for increased parliamentary engagement with the island nations of the Pacific.

We need to respond to this because this is China seeking to increase its influence in the region of the world where Australia has been the security partner of choice since the Second World War.

Plibersek apologises for comparing Dutton to Lord Voldemort

Senior Labor MP Tanya Plibersek has apologised for likening likely Liberal leader Peter Dutton to Voldemort, arch villain of the Harry Potter series.

Plibersek had told Brisbane radio 4BC on Wednesday that children may be frightened by Dutton’s appearance.

I think there are a lot of children who’ve watched a lot of Harry Potter films who’ll be very frightened of what they’re seeing on TV at night, that’s for sure.

I’m saying he looks a bit like Voldemort, and we’ll see if he can do what he promised he’d do when he was last running for leader, which is smile more.

Plibersek called Dutton to apologise, while the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, told the ABC the remarks were “not acceptable”:

I think that in politics we need to treat each other with respect, Tanya recognises that which is why she apologised, and I’m sure Peter Dutton accepted that and we move on.

Vote counting still neck and neck in three electorates according to AEC

Let’s talk seats in doubt, with the Australian Electoral Commission listing Ryan (QLD), Gilmore (NSW) and Lyons (TAS) as the three which are neck and neck following Saturday’s election.

As of Wednesday, Labor holds 75 seats to the Coalition’s 61, the Greens have two and there are 12 crossbenchers.

The tightest race is in Gilmore, where 114 votes separate the incumbent, Labor’s Fiona Phillips, from former NSW minister Andrew Constance.

In Lyons, Labor MP Brian Mitchell’s margin has dropped to 535 votes ahead of Liberal candidate Susie Bower.

The Brisbane seat of Ryan has Greens candidate Elizabeth Watson-Brown ahead of LNP MP Julian Simmonds by only 119 votes.

Outgoing minister Michael Sukkar is in a more comfortable position, 890 votes ahead of Labor rival Matt Gregg for the Victorian seat of Deakin.

In the Senate, the Coalition is on track to hold 31 seats, and Labor 26, in the 76-seat chamber.

The Greens are expected to hold 12 Senate spots, with One Nation likely to hold two seats.

Dutton attempts to soften image

So Peter Dutton has finally confirmed he will be running to lead the Liberal party, and his tenure begins with a typical media blitz, in an attempt to soften his image.

His charm offensive includes appearances in the Daily Telegraph, where he says he hopes Australia will now get a chance to see the “rest of my character’’. He also waxes lyrical about his “political mentors” (John Howard and Peter Costello).

In the SMH and the Age, a grinning Dutton, pictured walking in the park with his family, issues a “rallying cry”, saying he wants to unite the divided strands of the Liberal party.

We aren’t the ‘Moderate Party’. We aren’t the ‘Conservative Party’. We are Liberals. We are the Liberal Party.

The Australian is calling it “Peter Dutton 2.0” (although I thought the “He’s not a monster” was launching Dutton 2.0 and this was Dutton 3.0, but I digress). The Oz quotes Dutton as saying Australians had only seen his “tough” side because he had only taken up “tough jobs”:

“I’ve had tough jobs – firstly as a policeman dealing with serious sexual assaults and murders, to home affairs minister where I deported drug traffickers and child sex offenders. Most people have only seen that side of me.

Good morning

Good morning, Mostafa Rachwani with you this morning, as we continue processing the election results and all that come with it.

We begin with the foreign minister, Penny Wong, who is set to visit Fiji today in an attempt to strengthen ties with the Pacific nation. She will be hoping to deepen Australia’s relationship with the country, amid reports China is seeking a regional deal with 10 Pacific Island nations.

In a statement, Wong said that while China had made its intention clear, “so too are the intentions of the new Australian government”.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, landed back in Canberra last night, with expectations he will meet with health officials sometime today to discuss the pandemic. AAP is reporting that he has instructed health officials to prepare a briefing on Covid-19, as one of his first domestic agenda issues to tackle upon his arrival in Australia.

Meanwhile, Peter Dutton has formally confirmed he will stand for the leadership of the Liberal party last night, urging the party to come together behind him. He said things are going to be “tough” under Labor, but said his party would seek to hold them to account.

Scott Morrison is due to speak to Sydney radio station 2GB later this morning, in what will be his first media appearance after his earth-shattering election loss. We will bring you those lines, as well as everything else happening around the country. Stay tuned.

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