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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Australian Labor Party sweeps Australian elections

Kevin Rudd: 26th Prime Minister of Australia

Back in 2001 I went to Student Leadership Forum on Faith and Values in Leadership in Canberra. A bunch of pimply faced, zealous students and "prominent community leaders" (I think that is how he introduced himself!), we were gathered in a room to hear the Prime Minister speak about his decision making processes. The room stood to a rather awkward standing ovation as John Howard entered the room, one of those standing ovations where half the room jumps to its feet and the rest sort of gradually pop up out of a perceived obligation to not seem like a bad sport. After the Prime Minister's speech, Liberal Bruce Baird informed us that the then leader of the opposition, Kym Beazley, was not available to speak to us, but that instead we would be hearing from the shadow foreign minister, a guy whom the liberal minister described as being, "one of the good guys, even from our side of politics." That 'good guy', was Kevin Rudd.

Whether based on the strength of policy platforms, or on a deeper discontent with the perceived moral bankruptcy of a government deemed to be out of touch with the Australian public, or based merely on a general feeling of a need for change that seems to be a part of the Australian psyche, Australia has elected Kevin Rudd, leader of the Australian Labour Party as the 26th Prime Minister of Australia. Three years out from a disastrous loss, the Australian Labour Party has bounced back to claim a landslide victory, gaining at least 30 seats to make a total of approximately 86 out of the available 150 parliamentary constituencies (with counting still to be finalised). To add insult to injury, John Howard, our outgoing prime minister, may not even be re-elected in his electorate (in which I grew up) of Bennelong. If he does lose to high profile Labour candidate Maxine Mckew, he will be the first sitting Prime Minister not to be re-elected in his own seat since 1929 when the then Prime Minister Stanley Bruce lost the seat of Flinders.

Politics is a sensitive subject. I don't know whether it's an Australian thing, but it's almost as if we tend to feel more comfortable revealing intimate details about our sexual history than we are revealing our political tendencies. However, I couldn't help feeling slightly more positive about life when I woke up this morning to a cold but sunny Canadian winter day, and read that Labour had won. I'm not necessarily excited that it is Labour that has won, but it's more what they represent at the moment, and that is a party that is prepared to reintroduce the idea of standards to our nation, standards in education, standards in our foreign policy, standards in the way we run the economy. There is some comfort to be drawn from the fact that a market economy will be pursued, but that it will not be pursued at all costs. The fact that Australians may have voted through their hearts and not just through their mortgage, is somehow reassuring.

Former Prime Minister Howard concedes defeat.

1 comment:

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