“Our nation is diminished by not recognising First Australians in our constitution,” he said. “Labor stands ready to co-operate on how we advance the agenda of the Uluru Statement.”
Mr Morrison also pledged to “work together across the aisle and across our communities” to achieve an outcome on constitutional recognition, but warned it may take longer than anticipated. Before the election, Labor had promised a referendum within its first term.
There were no other candidates for the Labor leadership as nominations closed on Monday, leaving Mr Albanese to claim the title unopposed.
He will be confirmed as leader at a caucus meeting on Thursday, when Mr Marles is expected to be elected unopposed as deputy and Mr Albanese will lock in his frontbench.
Mr Albanese faces a seismic challenge in orienting Labor’s climate change policies, with environment spokesman Tony Burke now pivoting away from market-based mechanisms to a direct intervention model, similar to the Coalition’s “direct action” policy.
The Labor leader said he was “neither a climate sceptic nor a market sceptic” when it comes to taking action on climate change.
“Let me say this unequivocally: the science is in, climate change is real, and we must act – not just as a nation but as a global community,” Mr Albanese said.
“The business community [is] crying out for certainty and it’s time that the government worked with the opposition to deliver that certainty. The time for ongoing conflict over these issues surely is over.”
Mr Albanese called himself “a values politician” and an unashamed progressive who believes the government must play a role in shaping change. “There is indeed such a thing as society, and we all depend on it,” he said.
He will mark the beginning of his tenure as Labor leader with a trip to Queensland, where the party performed poorly at the election, partly due to anger over its unclear position on the proposed Adani coal mine and the future of the coal industry.
Mr Marles was accused of celebrating the demise of coal when he said earlier this year: “The global market for thermal coal has collapsed, and at one level that’s a good thing because what that implies is the world is acting in relation to climate change.”
On Monday, Mr Marles said those comments were “tone deaf”, telling 3AW radio: “I regret them and I was apologising for them within a couple of days of making them, and partly why they were tone deaf is because it failed to acknowledge the significance of every person’s job.”
Last week, two state Labor MPs in Queensland took the remarkable step of publicly calling for federal colleagues to vote against Mr Marles’ bid for the deputy leadership, saying it would be “a slap in the face” to their state if he were given the job.
Michael Koziol is a political correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.