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Labor Party wins big in Australia

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071124/ap_on_re_au_an/australia_election Labor Party wins big in Australia By ROHAN SULLIVAN, Associated Press Writer 25 minutes
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 24, 2007
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071124/ap_on_re_au_an/australia_election

      Labor Party wins big in Australia

      By ROHAN SULLIVAN, Associated Press Writer 25 minutes
      ago

      SYDNEY, Australia - Conservative Prime Minister John
      Howard suffered a humiliating defeat Saturday at the
      hands of the left-leaning opposition, whose leader has
      promised to immediately sign the Kyoto Protocol on
      global warming and withdraw Australia's combat troops
      from Iraq.

      Labor Party head Kevin Rudd's pledges on global
      warming and Iraq move Australia sharply away from
      policies that had made Howard one of President Bush's
      staunchest allies.

      Rudd has named global warming as his top priority, and
      his signing of the Kyoto Protocol will leave the U.S.
      as the only industrialized country not to have joined
      it.

      Rudd said he would withdraw Australia's 550 combat
      troops from Iraq, leaving twice that number in mostly
      security roles. Howard had said all the troops will
      stay as long as needed.

      Official figures from the Australian Electoral
      Commission showed Labor far in front after more than
      70 percent of the ballots had been counted — with 53
      percent of the vote compared to 46.7 percent for
      Howard's coalition.

      Using those figures, an Australian Broadcasting Corp.
      analysis showed that Labor would get at least 81
      places in the 150-seat lower house of Parliament — a
      clear majority.

      It was an embarrassing end to the career of Howard,
      Australia's second-longest serving leader.

      As little as a year ago, Howard had appeared almost
      unassailable. But on Saturday he was in real danger of
      becoming only the second sitting prime minister in 106
      years of federal government to lose his own seat in
      Parliament.

      Howard took full blame for the drubbing handed to his
      center-right coalition.

      "I accept full responsibility for the Liberal Party
      campaign, and I therefore accept full responsibility
      for the coalition's defeat in this election campaign,"
      Howard said in his concession speech in Sydney.

      A new government is unlikely to mean a fundamental
      change in Australia's close alliance with the United
      States — its most important security partner — or its
      growing economic and political ties with Asia.

      At home, Rudd has pledged to govern as an "economic
      conservative," while pouring money into schools and
      universities. He will curtail sweeping industrial
      reforms laws that were perceived to hand bosses too
      much power, turning many working voters against
      Howard.

      "Today Australia has looked to the future," Rudd said
      in a nationally televised victory speech, to wild
      cheers from supporters. "Today the Australian people
      have decided that we as a nation will move forward ...
      to embrace the future, together to write a new page in
      our nation's history."

      In his concession speech, Howard announced he had
      phoned Rudd to congratulate him on "a very emphatic
      victory."

      The change from Howard to Rudd also marks a
      generational shift for Australia.

      Rudd, a 50-year-old former diplomat who speaks fluent
      Chinese, urged voters to support him because Howard,
      68, was out of touch with modern Australia and
      ill-equipped to deal with new-age issues such as
      climate change.

      Howard campaigned on his economic management, arguing
      that his government was mostly responsible for 17
      years of unbroken growth, fueled by China's and
      India's hunger for Australia's coal and other
      minerals, and that Rudd could not be trusted to
      maintain prosperous times.

      Labor has been out of power for more than a decade,
      and few in Rudd's team — including him — has any
      government experience at federal level. His team
      includes a former rock star — Midnight Oil singer
      Peter Garrett — a television journalist and former
      union officials.

      But analysts say his foreign policy credentials are
      impeccable, and that he has shown discipline and
      political skill since his election as Labor leader 11
      months ago.

      Rudd's election as Labor leader marked the start of
      Howard's decline in opinion polls, from which he never
      recovered.

      Howard's four straight election victories since 1996
      made him one of Australia's most successful
      politicians. He refused to stand down before this
      election — even after being urged to do by some party colleagues.
    • Ram Lau
      Good riddance. John Howard has been a major embarrassment of the Aussies for way too long.
      Message 2 of 3 , Nov 24, 2007
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        Good riddance. John Howard has been a major embarrassment of the
        Aussies for way too long.
      • Brian Todd
        Not to the Aussies I know, and certainly not from the perspective of American foreign policy. We have lost a great ally in John Howard, and the world s safety
        Message 3 of 3 , Nov 24, 2007
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          Not to the Aussies I know, and certainly not from the perspective of American foreign policy.  We have lost a great ally in John Howard, and the world's safety from terrorism will be the worse for it.

          In Liberty,

          Brian



          Ram Lau wrote:

          Good riddance. John Howard has been a major embarrassment of the
          Aussies for way too long.


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