Australia's Howard Defeated (updated)

One of America's staunchest and most reliable allies in the War on Terror, Australia's Prime Minister John Howard, has gone down to defeat:

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has suffered a humiliating election defeat and the opposition Labor Party has swept into power.

Mr. Howard, who had been seeking a fifth term after 11 years of conservative rule, said he had telephoned Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd to congratulate him on his victory.

"It has been an immense honour to be prime minister of Australia," he told supporters after election results showed a 6.3% swing to Labor. "We bequeath to (Mr Rudd) a nation that is stronger and prouder and more prosperous than it was 11 and a half years ago," he declared.
Howard was the last of the major pre-Iraq war western leaders to exit, preceeded by Anzar of Spain, Schroder of Germany, Chirac of France, and Blair of Great Britain. Howard's unwavering support of the mission in Iraq probaby lost him some votes. But it was domestic issues that eventually doomed him:
The election was fought mainly on domestic issues, with Labor exploiting widespread anger at workplace laws and rising interest rates.

Mr Howard was Australia's second-longest serving prime minister behind Liberal Party founder Sir Robert Menzies.
Few Australian leaders since World War II allied themselves so closely to America. Howard's blunt outspokenness about the threat of Islamic terrorism and his steadfast support of the mission in Iraq will be sorely missed.

Update: Bob Myser adds

Mr. Howard may not even keep him seat in Parliament.  The mandate, if public opinion which has been fairly steady since before I left Australia in August is to be believed, is for change.  Mr. Rudd represents that change.

But it seems to me, as has for some time, that this election veered toward "change for the sake of change" rather than change for some specific reason.  Mr. Howard has been PM for more than eleven years and has overseen a long run of economic prosperity in Australia.  But at some point, I suppose, the citizens of Australia (or the majority of them, anyway) got tired of seeing the same face as head of government, hearing the same message, voting for the same man (or party).  So there will be change in Australia.

According to reports, the election was mainly run (and lost, for Mr. Howard) on domestic issues.  Internationally, Mr. Rudd plans on signing up to the Kyoto treaty.  It will be interesting to see how that effects the booming Australian coal export economy, most of which goes to China.  Mr. Rudd also plans on "negotiating" with the US for the removal of all Australian combat troops from Iraq.  This will also be interesting, as Australian and US servicemen have fought side by side in every major war since WWI.

But for folks in the US, it may be a sign of things to come -- the "change for the sake of change" vote.  If that is the case, it's a great time for it simply because there is so much choice for "change".  Outside of Senator Clinton, none of the names running for President have a legacy in the White House.  With the exception of one candidate, any person elected will bring change in the sense that the Bush/Clinton cycle will end.  Thankfully at this point, Americans have more choices than our Australian allies did.  For us, it is a choice among many; for them, it was either, or.

Bob Myer blogs at mindofflapjack.blogspot.com/

John B. Dwyer adds:

The Labor Party's Kevin Rudd is the new prime minister of America's staunch ally, Australia.  Searching for information about him, I found this useful profile at the TV New Zealand website. Excerpts:
Rudd was born to poor share-farmer parents in rural Queensland on September 21, 1957. The youngest of four children, his father died when he was 11 and his family had to leave the farm.

The young Rudd excelled at school and enjoyed doing his homework. He was a champion debater and was top in academics at his state high school. He joined the youth wing of the Labor Party while still at school.

Rudd attended the prestigious Australian National University, where he completed an honours degree in Chinese politics and modern social movements, mastering the Mandarin language. He joined Australia's foreign office after graduation, serving postings in Stockholm and Beijing.

Rudd won a seat in Australia's parliament in 1998 and was promoted to the Labor Party front bench in November 2001 with responsibility for foreign affairs. [....]

Key policy themes for Australia's Labor 

Foreign policy
    - Withdraw few hundred combat troops from Iraq, look to transfer Australia's training of Iraqi security forces to another country, keep and possibly increase troop numbers in Afghanistan.
    - New Homeland Security department.
    - Maintain close US alliance, but more independent voice on foreign policy.
    - Shut Australia's offshore refugee detention centres on Nauru and Papua New Guinea. 






 
One of America's staunchest and most reliable allies in the War on Terror, Australia's Prime Minister John Howard, has gone down to defeat:

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has suffered a humiliating election defeat and the opposition Labor Party has swept into power.

Mr. Howard, who had been seeking a fifth term after 11 years of conservative rule, said he had telephoned Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd to congratulate him on his victory.

"It has been an immense honour to be prime minister of Australia," he told supporters after election results showed a 6.3% swing to Labor. "We bequeath to (Mr Rudd) a nation that is stronger and prouder and more prosperous than it was 11 and a half years ago," he declared.
Howard was the last of the major pre-Iraq war western leaders to exit, preceeded by Anzar of Spain, Schroder of Germany, Chirac of France, and Blair of Great Britain. Howard's unwavering support of the mission in Iraq probaby lost him some votes. But it was domestic issues that eventually doomed him:
The election was fought mainly on domestic issues, with Labor exploiting widespread anger at workplace laws and rising interest rates.

Mr Howard was Australia's second-longest serving prime minister behind Liberal Party founder Sir Robert Menzies.
Few Australian leaders since World War II allied themselves so closely to America. Howard's blunt outspokenness about the threat of Islamic terrorism and his steadfast support of the mission in Iraq will be sorely missed.

Update: Bob Myser adds

Mr. Howard may not even keep him seat in Parliament.  The mandate, if public opinion which has been fairly steady since before I left Australia in August is to be believed, is for change.  Mr. Rudd represents that change.

But it seems to me, as has for some time, that this election veered toward "change for the sake of change" rather than change for some specific reason.  Mr. Howard has been PM for more than eleven years and has overseen a long run of economic prosperity in Australia.  But at some point, I suppose, the citizens of Australia (or the majority of them, anyway) got tired of seeing the same face as head of government, hearing the same message, voting for the same man (or party).  So there will be change in Australia.

According to reports, the election was mainly run (and lost, for Mr. Howard) on domestic issues.  Internationally, Mr. Rudd plans on signing up to the Kyoto treaty.  It will be interesting to see how that effects the booming Australian coal export economy, most of which goes to China.  Mr. Rudd also plans on "negotiating" with the US for the removal of all Australian combat troops from Iraq.  This will also be interesting, as Australian and US servicemen have fought side by side in every major war since WWI.

But for folks in the US, it may be a sign of things to come -- the "change for the sake of change" vote.  If that is the case, it's a great time for it simply because there is so much choice for "change".  Outside of Senator Clinton, none of the names running for President have a legacy in the White House.  With the exception of one candidate, any person elected will bring change in the sense that the Bush/Clinton cycle will end.  Thankfully at this point, Americans have more choices than our Australian allies did.  For us, it is a choice among many; for them, it was either, or.

Bob Myer blogs at mindofflapjack.blogspot.com/

John B. Dwyer adds:

The Labor Party's Kevin Rudd is the new prime minister of America's staunch ally, Australia.  Searching for information about him, I found this useful profile at the TV New Zealand website. Excerpts:
Rudd was born to poor share-farmer parents in rural Queensland on September 21, 1957. The youngest of four children, his father died when he was 11 and his family had to leave the farm.

The young Rudd excelled at school and enjoyed doing his homework. He was a champion debater and was top in academics at his state high school. He joined the youth wing of the Labor Party while still at school.

Rudd attended the prestigious Australian National University, where he completed an honours degree in Chinese politics and modern social movements, mastering the Mandarin language. He joined Australia's foreign office after graduation, serving postings in Stockholm and Beijing.

Rudd won a seat in Australia's parliament in 1998 and was promoted to the Labor Party front bench in November 2001 with responsibility for foreign affairs. [....]

Key policy themes for Australia's Labor 

Foreign policy
    - Withdraw few hundred combat troops from Iraq, look to transfer Australia's training of Iraqi security forces to another country, keep and possibly increase troop numbers in Afghanistan.
    - New Homeland Security department.
    - Maintain close US alliance, but more independent voice on foreign policy.
    - Shut Australia's offshore refugee detention centres on Nauru and Papua New Guinea.