Joe Biden introduces his nominees and appointees to key posts in his team (Image: AP/Carolyn Kaster)

When US President-elect Joe Biden formally unveiled his national security team this morning, sighs of relief could be heard around the world.

A stage featuring half a dozen experienced competent officials should hardly be seen as anything unusual but after the past four years it is being hailed as a breakthrough.

They might be from the Washington swamp but that’s now a good thing, especially as Biden will have to get his nominees through a difficult Senate. Nor does safe mean boring — there are plenty of firsts among the diverse group.

“America is back,” Biden declared from Wilmington, Delaware, adding that this was a team “ready to lead the world, not retreat from it”.

It was a carefully managed message of comfort for allies from Brussels to Canberra and the beginning of the process of moving away from America first and back to global rules-based order.

“Multilateralism is back, diplomacy is back,” Biden declared. He didn’t need to add that the greatest global threat in recent years has been from within.

Although the stage lacked one key figure in the as yet unnamed defence secretary, it did feature the all-important secretary of state. Antony Blinken could not be more qualified having served as a deputy secretary of state and is one of Biden’s closest foreign policy advisers.

Indeed so close are they it has been noted he strongly disagreed with Biden on key issues when they worked together in the Obama administration.

Gosh. A key official speaking his mind, standing up to his boss. Incredible it even needs to be said, but Biden reiterated it this morning when he said these officials “will tell me what I need to know and not what I want to know”.

Australia is welcoming the Blinken appointment as a known entity, someone who is across the China threat and less likely to “pivot” back to the Atlantic or focus on the Middle East as is the fear in an incoming administration.

Not that he won’t have to repair crucial alliances in Europe and counter the Russian threat, but the man who was instrumental in pushing freedom of navigation exercises in the the South China Sea will prove a key ally in the complex relationship with China.

His first task though will be rebuilding the State Department that was cleaned out by Donald Trump’s original secretary of state, Rex “the wrecker” Tillerson.

The other key national security nominees all told their personal stories, and as Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris explained, Biden wanted to “select a cabinet that looks like America and reflects the best of our nation”.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a veteran black diplomat who grew up in the segregated south, will be ambassador to the United Nations — a post which will be elevated to cabinet level.

Avril Haines is the first female director of national intelligence and a woman whose CV as a physicist and lawyer includes everything from running a bookshop to building a plane.

Perhaps the most stark symbolism was the appointment of Alejandro Mayorkas as secretary of homeland security — the son of Jewish Cuban refugees will be in charge of immigration and border control.

But probably the most radical appointment was former secretary of state John Kerry in the newly created role of climate tsar, and the fact he was at the national security team unveiling shows just how seriously the Biden administration will push the issue.

The next appointment due to be announced imminently will be the vital role of secretary of the Treasury, expected to go to former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen.

Progressives in the Democratic Party had hoped Elizabeth Warren might get the job but Biden must choose candidates who can actually be confirmed. (At least until he can win back the Senate in the midterms perhaps.)

Yellen is highly respected — Warren commended her appointment — and most crucially Wall Street is obviously delighted as the Dow powered through the key 30,000-point mark overnight to set a new record.

The outgoing president tried to take credit for that, but it was quite clearly a Biden relief rally.