Saturday, November 24, 2007

John Howard Concedes Defeat

It is 3:46AM here on the left coast and the breaking news on Al Jazeera and the BBC is that the center-left Labour Party has claimed victory in Australia's parliamentary elections.

This means that the Labour Party leader Kevin Rudd (pictured) will most likely be the next Prime Minister.

John Howard's 11 year old government seemingly suffered a landslide defeat which comes with the added humiliation of losing his seat of Bennelong in Sydney. In the past 33 years, Bennelong voters have elected Howard in 13 times in succession.

Results from the electoral commission indicate that Maxine McKew, a former TV jornalist, is leading the race and will break Howard's hold on the Benelong seat. Exit polls indicate that a Mckew win is a strong possibility.

If Howard loses his parliamentary seat of Bennelong, he would be the first prime minister to do so in 78 years.

As of this writing, Labour Party leader, Kevin Rudd, has not made any statement. Rudd (50) has, however, promised the electorate to withdraw troops from Iraq and to sign the Kyoto Protocol which deals with global warming.

These measures signified a sharp break with Howard who aligned Australia with the US and remained committed to keeping troops is Iraq.

Those of us who are concerned with the human rights of Aboriginals will be watching carefully to see if Rudd and the Labour Party roll-back Howard's inhumane and racist policy in the Northern Territory.

Rudd, however, has been known to be aloof and distant from issues that pertain to race relations and civil liberties. He is a former diplomat who speaks Mandarin and has expressed interests in forging close ties with China.

The Labour Party's victory may be seen as a shift away from conservatve politics in Australia. But it would be wise to adopt a wait and see attitude.

***Update***(November 26)
The BBC reports that Prime Minister-elect Kevin Rudd promises to offer a formal apology to Aborigines "early in his first parliamentary term." The report does not mention whether there will be a roll-back on Howard's Aboriginal policy in the Northern Territory.


Dione said...

These should be interesting times for Australia and the rest of the world for that matter.
No doubt, Kevin Rudd seems to be a liberal diplomat. I think his ties to China are more than a bit intriguing. I am sure he is thinking about the future of Australia, ties to power and the economic situation.
Being a liberal, it’s easy to see how his notion of pulling the troupes out of Iraq would gain him a “popular vote”, especially with most of the world. This could help him establish more power, and respect with the UN and those key players.
Time will definitely tell, because Rudd also wants to keep things on the up and up with America, and the Bush administration. From that standpoint, I question some of the intentions because it seems like he may want to play both sides. This is of course the nature of politics, yet with all my understandings of Australia needing to play a card of neutrality- I almost respect more someone who really takes a stand on the issues. I think Kevin Rudd is definitely playing it safe for now; it will only get more interesting as time goes by. I would tend to think that someone truly liberal and diplomatic would in fact put an end to the aboriginal situation going on in his own country.

Ridwan said...

Hey Dione. Rudd says he is a "fiscal conservative" and I am not sure what that means for his interest in China.

Some think that his foreign policy credentials and vision may set him apart from Howard but how is the question.

I don't know about his domestic vision either.

And I am not sure that a liberal will be any better for the Aboriginal cause.

I think we have to watch this ball game. And of course the petition will need to be adjusted accordingly now.

Be well and thanks for looking in here.


Dione said...

Time will tell for sure. I am amazed at all who are unaware of the aboriginal sitution. Its good to get people interested in the issues. I find it particulary interesting when Australians themselves seem unaware. My guess is that Rudd will not be too quick to do anything.


nunya said...

skippy's headline on this cracked me up:

throw another neocon on the barbie!

Ridwan said...

Hey that is funny ... I hope the barbie goes on ...

Thanks Nunya.