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New face in Aussie Politics

New face in Aussie Politics


By Syed Atiq ul Hassan, Sydney, Australia

Historic outcome of the national election held on Saturday the November 24, 2007 shows that the Australian nation decided to emerge a new era of Australian politics. More than eleven years old John Howard’s government which considered as strong and stable has been cast off by the people of Australia with clear majority.

The political career of Australia's second-longest serving Prime Minister, John Howard has been finally ended. Provided the postal votes, to be announced in couple of days, don’t change the current statistics, John Howard would loose his own seat of bennelong, New South Wales which he held since 1974. The well-known Australian journalist Ms. Maxine McKew who is a new recruit to Australian Labor Party is about to write a historical defeat for John Howard in a close context. John Howard would be only the second sitting prime minister to lose his seat after Stanley Bruce in 1929.

In his final message to the nation, John Howard said that he was saddened by the defeat but accepted the total responsibility of his party defeat.

One of Mr. Howard’s frontline contester and senior liberal leader Joe Hockey who though retained his seat of North Sydney but accepting the defeat of his government said it was devastating.

The political analysts and experts believe that 3 times winner and being in the government for more than a decade John Howard and his team took the election as granted. The swing in voters in favour of Labor Party shows that people were fad up with the same faces in the government and wanted change. However, continuous increase in interest rates, new industrial laws, falling conditions of health system were the major internal issues while provocative military support to United States in Iraq and Afghanistan were also heavy concerns among many Australians. John Howard’s election campaign found nothing new to sell other than negative campaign against new Labor leader Kevin Rudd. The last nail in the Coffin of Howard’s falling popularity in the ending hours to the election was hammered by the husband of Howard’s MP Jackie Kelly who was found distributing hoax anti-Muslim pamphlets claiming that Labor, if win, would support Muslims extremist.

The most ambitious of liberal party leadership and Howard’s right man, Peter Costello who was expecting to be the next Prime Minister after Howard’s retirement, though retained his seat, so much devastated by his party’s defeat that he has announced not to seek the leadership of the opposition.

The leader of winning Australian Labor Party and now would be the 26th Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, said that his victory would write a new page in the Australian history. Mr. Rudd said that he came with a new vision for all Australians. Mr. Rudd said that he would represent and look after every Australian. He said that he will especially focus on the issues of working families. He said he will like to keep friendship with every country. He said he would like to keep the traditional and long standing relations with United States, at the same time, with China, other Asian nations and Europe. During the election campaign, Mr. Rudd promised to make Australia more independent of the United States and pull Australian combat troops out of Iraq.

After Tony Blair, the loss of John Howard in power must be another shock to US President George Bush. However, President Bush congratulated Kevin Rudd on Labor’s victory. President Bush wished Mr. Rudd to be his good friend while referring outgoing John Howard as his best friend. Though the political experts in Australia referring Howard’s defeat as a big change in Australian internal and external politics, nevertheless, they are predicting that there might be some frigidity between the White House and Canberra but both Australia and United States will maintain their strong military and trade ties.

Coming Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his Labor Party has promised with the Australian nation to bring revolution in Education, Health and Jobs. He has announced to spend billions of dollars to improve public health facilities, add more technical resources in Education and creation of more jobs. Therefore, if Labor fulfills its promises the people of Australia might see a change in internal affairs. However, as for as the external policy, Kevin Rudd has not announced big changes except to pull out Australian troops from Iraq in phases. Therefore, the world might not see any change in Australian external policies on war against terrorism, Afghanistan. (The writer is a Sydney-based journalist).

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Syed Atiq ul Hassan, www.sauhassan.com

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