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Anthony Albanese did not mention the Queen or God when he was sworn in as Australia’s 31st Prime Minister – one of a series of major symbolic differences from his predecessor Scott Morrison

In another change, the Labor leader opened his first press conference as PM only after having staff replace two of the three Australian flags behind the podium in the Blue Room of Parliament House with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander emblems. 

Mr Albanese is also taking Foreign Minister Penny Wong with him to meet the international leaders at the Quad Summit in Japan, against the normal convention of such meeting in which the Prime Minister would go solo. 

The three changes mark a significant departure from the way Mr Morrison did things – and came as a surprise to many Australians despite Mr Albanese saying he wants to change ‘how politics is done’ in Australia. 

Anthony Albanese (left) opted for a civil affirmation when he was sworn in as Australia's 31st Prime Minister

Anthony Albanese (left) opted for a civil affirmation when he was sworn in as Australia’s 31st Prime Minister 

The first clear difference between Mr Albanese and Mr Morrison was evident when Mr Albanese was sworn in as PM. 

‘I, Anthony Norman Albanese do solemnly and sincerely affirm and declare that I will well and truly serve the Commonwealth of Australia, her land and her people in the office of Prime Minister,’ the new leader said.

Mr Albanese took a civil affirmation, rather than a religious pledge, and chose not to utter the traditional ‘so help me God’, which is sometimes a feature of these events.  

The difference couldn’t be more stark to what former prime minister Scott Morrison said almost five years ago. 

Mr Morrison pledged: ‘I, Scott John Morrison do swear that I will well and truly serve the people of Australia in the office of Prime Minister and that I’ll be faithful and be true allegiance to her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, so help me God.’

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Mr Morrison is a devout Christian – while Mr Albanese dwelled little on his religious views during the election campaign.

 He has described himself as a ‘non-practising Catholic’ – having been educated at Camperdown’s St Joseph’s Primary School and St Mary’s Cathedral College. He has previously said faith is a personal matter for him.

It did not go unnoticed by the media when Mr Albanese made another change on his first day. Prior to his first address as the sworn-in leader, staff replaced two of the three Australian flags behind the podium at Parliament House to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags.

Staff replace two Australian flags in Parliament House's Blue Room with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander insignias on Monday

Staff replace two Australian flags in Parliament House’s Blue Room with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander insignias on Monday

The monumental change comes after Labor announced it had taken a step forward to ‘fulfilling the promise of the Uluru Statement from the Heart’ – which would see an Indigenous ‘Voice to Parliament’ introduced. 

‘I look forward to leading a government that makes Australians proud,’ Mr Albanese told reporters on Monday

‘A government that doesn’t seek to divide, that doesn’t seek to have wedges but seeks to bring people together for our common interest and our common purpose.’

Shortly afterwards, Mr Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong boarded a plane to travel to Japan, where they will meet international leaders at the Quad Summit.

The pair will meet with US President Joe, Biden, host leader Fumio Kishida and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi.

Mr Albanese came under fire last week over plans to swear himself and Ms Wong in immediately after the election result so the pair could attend the Quad Summit, which begins tomorrow. 

He argued would be no time for the Labor caucus to meet in Canberra to elect ministers, as is required under party rules

It is also unusual for a Prime Minister to be sworn in – and then leave the country immediately. 

Mr Albanese told The Australian last week: ‘We are not pre-empting the outcome (of the election) but, clearly, we have been asked by Australian officials what our ­intention would be and we have indicated that if we are successful, the intention would be to go.’

 ‘If we are successful on Saturday, it is my intention to go to the Quad leaders meeting to represent Australia (as prime minister),’ Mr Albanese said. ‘If it is unclear, we would seek advice.’

Mr Albanese’s pre-emptive comments were slammed by senior Liberals, including Peter Dutton, who could become the new Coalition leader within days. Mr Dutton said it was unusual for Mr Albanese to take his Foreign Minister along on a leader’s trip.

He accused Mr Albanese of making a similar costly error to the one made by former Opposition Leader Bill Shorten who had the removalists booked to move into The Lodge days out from the 2019 election.

‘It sounds a lot to me like he’s taking people’s support for granted,’ Mr Dutton told 2GB last Wednesday. 

‘Already packing the bags and getting the passport ready to head off overseas before the final votes are counted reminds me a lot of what Bill Shorten did.’

‘Taking for granted that you’ve already become prime minister, or are on the cusp of it, I think is hubris writ large.’

How Scott Morrison’s last day in office at church  

Scott Morrison, on the other hand spent his first day out of the job on Sunday by attending his weekly Pentecostal service where he addressed fellow parishioners in a tearful address.

‘Whether you’re a prime minister, a pastor, running a business, teaching in schools, working in the police force, it doesn’t matter,’ he told the audience at Horizon Church in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire.

‘We’re each called to trust and obey. And that’s the life of faith He calls us to. That’s how we live our faith each and every day, regardless of what your job is, and to express it in how you do that.’

Outgoing Prime Minister Scott Morrison broke down in tears as he addressed his church on Sunday (pictured)

Outgoing Prime Minister Scott Morrison broke down in tears as he addressed his church on Sunday (pictured)

‘You’ve given us a great foundation from which we could walk what has been a very difficult walk, I’ve got to tell you, over the last four years.

‘I’m very pleased that the last thing I say as PM is here. So I’m not going to rely on my own words.’

Mr Morrison collected his thoughts before quoting a passage from Habakkuk 3:17.

‘Even if the fig tree does not blossom, and there is no fruit on the vines, if the yield of the olive fails and if the fields produce no food, even if the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls, yet I will triumph in the Lord,’ he read.

‘I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.’

 

Anthony Albanese (pictured with Governor-General David Hurley) chose not to utter the traditional 'so help me God' at the end of his oath

Anthony Albanese (pictured with Governor-General David Hurley) chose not to utter the traditional ‘so help me God’ at the end of his oath

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