CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – Australia’s new government, which was sworn in on Wednesday, includes a record 13 women, including the first Muslim woman to perform the role and a second indigenous person named the Minister for Indigenous Affairs.
The ceremony, held by Governor-General David Hurley in the Canberra capital, came 11 days after the new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese led the center-left Labor Party to win the election over incumbent Conservatives.
“I am proud to lead an inclusive government as diverse as Australia itself,” Albanese wrote on Twitter. “Welcome to all these new Labor members.”
Youth Minister Anne Ali is the first Muslim woman in Australia, and Minister of Industry and Science Ed Husik is the first Muslim woman to serve in the Cabinet.
Linda Bernie became the first woman and only the second indigenous woman to hold the position of Minister for Indigenous Affairs.
Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong were sworn in early last week so they could fly to Tokyo for a summit with President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishido and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Of the 30 ministers appointed to the new government, almost half are women. Women also hold a record 10 seats out of 23 in key positions in the Cabinet.
With some votes still to be counted after last month’s election, the Labor Party has secured enough seats to retain an absolute majority in the 150-seat House of Representatives.
Albanese’s cabinet includes some new figures, as well as some lawmakers who served in the previous Labor government, which last came to power nine years ago.
“We have an overflow of talent in parliament,” Albanese said, adding that “this is the most experienced Labor government in our history since the federation.”
The Albanian receives support from an unusual source: British singer and songwriter Billy Bragg.
Bragg wrote on Twitter that when he woke up, he found that “the new Prime Minister of Australia quoted my text at his first press conference.”
Bragg went on to say he was not surprised, as he has been friends with Albanese for more than 20 years after they met at a theater in Sydney and linked their shared love of music and compassionate politics.
“The challenges he faces are complex, and I don’t envy him for his success,” Bragg wrote. “Some of us are just singing about making the world a better place – now it is responsible for keeping that promise.”