Australia's Opposition leader Anthony Albanese says he will travel to Quad if wins election

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese during the second leaders' debate of the federal election campaign, on May 8, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Australia's Opposition Labor leader Anthony Albanese said if he wins Saturday's (May 21) general election he will travel to Tokyo for a meeting of the Quad group of the United States, Japan and India, scheduled just three days later.

Centre-left Labor's lead over the Prime Minster Scott Morrison's Liberal-National government has shrunk to 51-49 per cent on a two-party preferred basis from 54-46 per cent two weeks ago, a poll for the Sydney Morning Herald showed, while a Guardian poll indicated it had dipped a point to 48 per cent.

Addressing the National Press Club in Canberra in the final days of the campaign, Mr Albanese said Australia's alliance with the United States, regional relationships and multilateral groups like the Quad would be the foreign policy pillars of a Labor government.

There would be no change in Australia's China policy, he said, but Labor held a "common view" with the Biden administration on climate change and would do more on climate to improve its standing in the region, particularly the Pacific.

"The first thing I will be doing is meeting with our allies... Meeting with President Biden, meeting with Prime Minister Kishida, meeting with Narendra Modi next week - that is my priority," he said, referring to the US, Japan and India leaders.

If Labor wins Saturday's election, Mr Albanese and its foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong would need to be sworn into office by Monday to travel to Tokyo for Tuesday's meeting of the Quad security grouping, The Australian newspaper reported.

This timing could be challenging if the election vote is close, and results are delayed.

Australia's relationship with China would "remain a challenging one regardless of who wins the election", Mr Albanese said, adding Labor would maintain consistency on China policy.

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