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.
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.