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January 2002 issue of
World Press Review
(VOL. 49, No. 1)
Third Times a Charm
World Press Review correspondent
Minister John Howards Liberal-National Party Coalition
federal government was re-elected with an increased majority
on Nov. 10, giving him a historic third term in government.
Labor Party Opposition Leader Kim Beazley will retire to the
backbenches, and probably leave parliament in the new year.
Beazleys right-wing deputy, Simon Crean, the uncharismatic
former president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions,
will succeed himfor the interim, anyway. Leftist Jenny
Macklin, also from Melbourne, will become Labors first
federal woman deputy leader.
Virtually eliminated was the right-wing and often racist One
Nation Party of Pauline Hanson. Neither Hanson nor her partys
other Senate hopeful Graham Campbell in Western Australia will
even come close to being elected. Most One Nation voters appear
to have returned to the coalition.
Paul Kelly, international editor of Rupert Murdochs national
daily The Australian, wrote on Nov. 12: John Howard
has achieved his third election victory by pulling off one of
the most stunning recoveries in the nations political
history. [But] he faces daunting challenges that point to a
highly unpredictable three-year terma boat-people policy
under assault, a protracted war on terrorism, and a global economic
Prime Minister Howards firm support for President George
W. Bushs war against terrorism, and Australias quick
response with military support, shored up his leadership credentials
with voters, according to most political commentators. But writing
in the Sun-Herald on Nov. 4, Brian Toohey said: The
time has come for Labor to take some campaign risks. It could
start by criticizing the bombing of Afghanistan for adding to
the flood of refugees. It didnt.
A leading article in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH)
on Nov. 3-4 linked the refugee crisis unequivocally to Australias
diplomatic problems in its relations with Indonesia. In August,
Howard controversially turned away Afghan refugees aboard the
Tampa who were seeking asylum in Australia after being turned
away from Indonesia. The paper said: Mr. Howards
demands that Indonesia take back boatloads of Iraqi and Afghan
asylum-seekers and his statement that [Indonesias] President
Megawati Sukarnoputri must understand the need for
a united front against terrorism, were counterproductive.
The SMH spent most of the campaign deriding the prime minister
and his coalition policies. Interestingly, Labor fared badly
in New South Wales while the coalition vote increased by more
than 6 percent.
The Age, which had advised its readers to vote Labor,
said (Nov. 12): The great paradox is that the government
has won a mandate to pursue policies that are unsustainable.
We cannot continue shelving our responsibilities for assessing
asylum-seekers by pushing them on to impoverished Pacific nations.
We cannot ignore the damage these actions are doing to our reputation
in the region and further afield.
Fans of the ubiquitous cult of psephology were pleased to note
that the two main opinion polls published on Election DaySol
Lebovics Newspoll for the Murdoch stable and A.C. Nielsens
for the Fairfax papersgot close to predicting the right
result, apart from underestimating the rise of the Greens.
But the Gary Morgan poll for Kerry Packers Bulletin
said Labor was well in front, especially in the marginal seats.
Morgan could not have been too happy with Bulletin editor in
chief Paul Baileys estimate of his own pollsters
conclusions. Bailey wrote that he expected this weeks
Morgan poll to raise some eyebrows among political watchers
who feel the Coalition is still substantially ahead in this
Writing in the nations leading business magazine, Business
Review Weekly (Nov. 8-14), Nicholas Way said, As much
as Beazley and his close coterie of minders will blame electoral
defeat on the Tampa and Sept. 11, this will not stop a policy
and strategy debate erupting....Labor continues to underestimate
Prime Minister John Howard, Way stated. But they will
not do so anymore.