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Labor set to win in Australia

Written By: - Date published: 3:36 am, November 25th, 2007 - 37 comments
Categories: International - Tags:


After 11 years of conservative rule, it looks like Kevin Rudd has led the Australian Labour Party to victory in Australia’s elections. All the networks have called it for Rudd and Labor.

Howard has just conceded (watch the video). Howard may well lose his own seat of Bennelong – he’s trailing with over 75 per cent of the vote counted.

Labor sweeps to victory promising to tackle climate change, restore workers’ bargaining power and withdraw Australian troops from Iraq, all in stark contrast to Howard’s Liberals.

Rudd has said his first priorities will be to sign the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions and withdraw Australian troops.

Though they may win as many as 80 seats of the 150 house seats, according to the ABC Labor may not hold a straight majority of seats in the Senate – the balance being held by smaller parties.

UPDATE: Rudd’s victory speech – video

37 comments on “Labor set to win in Australia ”

  1. The Double Standard 1

    I think its more a case of an electorate looking for change after along period under Howard

    “Voters turned to Mr Rudd’s pitch of fresh leadership and new ideas over Mr Howard’s record of economic management and unprecedented years of growth under his government. ”

    “Despite all that me-tooism, Rudd appealed as different. He convinced the electorate that he would be a safe pair of hands.

    So this victory was not forged in the campaign itself. Labor and Rudd have been well ahead of their opponents all year. This spooked Howard, who delayed the campaign, hoping the polls would turn, which they did not. One consequence is that the campaign ran slap into the interest rate rise.”

    I don’t think Teh Party in NZ will be taking that much comfort from Labour’s victory in Australia.

  2. The Double Standard 2

    The SST has a similar view – new face, not much actual change.

    “There were no great issues at stake. Kevin Rudd matched every promise John Howard made, plus or minus a minor bell or whistle. John Howard matched every promise Kevin Rudd made, minus a quibble or a squeak. Their big fights were over mere symbols, such as the Kyoto Accord that is, they were about nothing. The real blood was shed in gaffes and stunts, such as the anti-Islam “Labor” letter put about by the idiot husband of a dimwitted West Sydney Liberal. The 2007 election was not one of the great, glorious turning-points of Ocker history. It was a fight over who should pull the levers.”


  3. the sprout 3

    TDS what rubbish, even by your ‘standards’. it’s the 2nd biggest landslide in Australian politics since WW2. and the tide didn’t turn with the gaffes of an EB style Lib-Nat campaigner, it has been inherent in the Howard govt for years.
    i can’t really blame you though, the truth can hurt, especially for who are so unused to it.


  4. Nih 4

    I think its more a case of an electorate looking for change after along period under Howard

    I don’t think Teh Party in NZ will be taking that much comfort from Labour’s victory in Australia.

    KiwiBlogBlog was right. Looks like you have to get up early in the morning to beat DPF to his spinjob though.

  5. Somerled 5

    TDS not a mention of work choices? This was a massive issue in the campaign. Howard took Australia’s employment laws to the right and the country turned around and said no.

  6. The Double Standard 6

    For those that are too lazy to click a link

    “All the other “big” issues had a tendency to disappear into the fine print. Rudd opposed Howard’s extremist industrial relations law, designed as it was to bury the unions and put the bosses in the box seat. But Howard had also watered it down a bit, and all Rudd’s proposed reforms would do was dilute it a bit more. There is no return to the old system, and Rudd has been as hard-faced as any Stalinist in clobbering dissident unions who buck his line. Rudd, married to a multi-millionaire businesswoman, has been a cautious wonk all his life. He has no experience of and no sympathy with the lives of working people. He is a nice middle-class boy who is just slightly on the liberal side of centre. He is Tony Blair from Queensland.”

    I notice the resident troglodytes haven’t mentioned Labour’s massive tax cuts either?

  7. MikeE 7

    1) Aussie labor is closer to the NZ National Party than Kiwi Labour
    2) Howard promised to spend more public money than Rudd
    3) An Aussie labor party with a conservative christian leader?

    Hardly something for Kiwi labour to jump for joy about… To be honest, I wouldn’t mind having Aussie Labor running the show over here instead of the kiwi lot, and I’m an ACT voter.

    (I was well impressed with ALP president Warrine Mundine when I met him last year, and I’m not a fan of NeoCon politics of the so called “liberal party”)

  8. Labor needs U 8

    The difference is that Kevin Rudd can cope with being interviewed by sharp political journalists on a daily basis, and show a clear grasp of the issues, whereas John Key’s best hope is that nobody actually gets around to asking him any questions at all, for a whole year.

    Guyon Espiner summed up Key very well in “North % South” magazine: “a sandcastle waiting for a large wave.”

  9. Tane 9

    MikeE, while I agree the ALP is further to the right on policy than the NZLP, it’s highly disingenuous to pretend it’s closer to the NZ Nats.

    Parties choose their leaders and their flagship policies to win elections. But the underlying values between the two Labour parties are very close, and stand in stark contrast to those of the NZ Nats and Howard’s Liberals. No one’s saying Rudd will create a model social democracy overnight, but he’ll certainly start moving Australia in a far more progressive direction.

    Given the policy direction Rudd has won on – climate change, Iraq and more worker-friendly industrial legislation – you’ve got a hard road trying to spin this as a victory for John Key.

  10. The Double Standard 10

    Well, LNU, that what you get from a career bureaucrat and politician – someone who never says anything unscripted.

    Does that mean they make better political leaders?

    Its’ good to see that he is gracious in victory, unlike the NZ Labour leadership.

  11. the sprout 11

    “someone who never says anything unscripted”

    yes you could hardly accuse John Key of that. unless his scripts are constantly peppered with “[place foot firmly in mouth here]”

  12. MikeE 12

    Tane – I’m no fan of the Nats at the best of times.

    See the time that Myself and two others convinced a Nat MP to ban water.


  13. The Double Standard 13

    Well spout, you didn’t really answer the question – does a lifetime of spin doctored speeches and kowtowing to the party line make a better leader?

  14. The Double Standard 14

    “Given the policy direction Rudd has won on – climate change, Iraq and more worker-friendly industrial legislation – you’ve got a hard road trying to spin this as a victory for John Key.”

    None of which are very likely to be major election issues here (except for union scare tactics I guess). I doubt that National’s policy will differ materially from Teh Party in these areas. After all NZ has ratified Kyoto alrady, and the emmissions trading concept has fairly broad support. Iraq is really an issue for the past, despite your apoplexy over the “war is over” comment.

    I think the ‘time for a change’ theme will be heavily promoted though, along with ‘fresh ideas’

    Perhaps Teh Party might find the scare tactics of constantly harking back to “the 90’s” will loose some of its impact as well. It cetainly didn’t do the Libs much good. After all a first-time voter of 18 would have been only 8 or 9 in 1998.

  15. Tane 15

    MikeE – that was you? Awesome.

    TDS – Key follows does follow his advisors’ scripts very closely – very little the man says isn’t clearly a pre-written line. The gaffes tend to come when he has to venture into unscripted territory.

  16. Lee C 16

    Didn’t take long for the thread to turn from being a celebration of a Labour victory in Australia to a critique of Key.

    As for Key – I’m talking about the same thing in the above –

    I think this election result is a victory for common sense in Australia. It also emphasises the importance of personality in politics. Howard – my mental image of him is as a neo-conservative of the worst kind.
    However, when I read about some of the great things Australia has to offer the common people, I can ony reflect that it is a shame that the enduring image I have of OZ is that it has been run by an asset-stripping hard-right american apologist.

    The Aussie electorate will also be able to reflect tht the continued boom will be assisted by a cordial relationship with the USA. SOmething we can’t.

    captcha – ‘media combination’ :0)

  17. The great irony is that the Standard are celebrating the fact that an Australian politician was swept to victory on the back of the biggest third party campaign in Australia’s history.

    The ACTU ran a very sophisticated, innovative, and vastly expensive campaign against Workchoices. It worked. Check out http://www.essentialmedia.com.au/CaseStudies/ACTUWorkChoices/tabid/145/Default.aspx

    Meanwhile, in New Zealand, the Labour Party wants to severely restrict third parties from having any role in election year.

  18. AncientGeek 18

    Some points…

    Workchoices was a major factor in the aussie election. While there was a desire for a change – that has been common in aussie for the last few elections. Problem was that a desire for a change requires and alternative to change to, and aussie labour hadn’t managed to put up the policy and candidates to make people want to vote for them.

    The employment contracts act that Nats put in in the early 90’s was exactly like the workchoice legislation in aussie. Designed to cure workplace rigidity and a crusted over labour law system. It went too damn far and was grossly unbalanced in the relative power between employer and employee. Fundamentally in any dispute the only choice and employee has was to walk and find another job – works in a full employment economy – doesn’t when we had 10% unemployment.

    Labour in NZ didn’t completely reverse the employment contracts act – but they replaced it with an act that is a hell of a lot fairer. As an employer, you have to dot your i’s and cross your t’s in the labour area. However an effective long-term business has to do that in all sorts of areas – say accounting, GST, relationships with suppliers and customer etc etc. The act has made employment law a lot clearer.

    Rudd has a high degree of credibility, and labour policies of the center were far more palatable than in previous elections. That was sufficent to finally overcome the electorate gerrymander in aussie.

    John Key and the Nats do not have that level of credibility – basically no-one really knows what they plan to do or how much they are telling the public what they want to hear.

    It has taken Helen and Labour 8 years to partially convince voters that what they say during campaigns is what will happen. Sooner or later I expect that politicans credibility may approach that of used car sales people. But of course not if the Nat’s have anything to say about it. As far as I can tell the Nat’s campaign at present consists of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt). It appears to consist of attacking without offering alternatives. Where they do say something, then they appear to do it with a divided voice.

    But of course there is one major difference between NZ and aussie. MMP largely gets rid of the gerrymander. You have to convince the get movement in the whole of the countrywide electorate. There aren’t marginal seats you can concentrate resources into. Makes life difficult for a party like the Nats that have relatively a lot of money, but bugger all useful activists (lots of people that like to talk – very few that do (anything effective)).

    It showed up in NZ last election – large numbers of rural and semi-rural seats fell to the Nat’s on the electorate vote (with less of a swing in the party vote in those electorates). But the election was won by the center-left on the party vote. Basically Labour got almost exactly what they’d got as a percentage in 2002, more than they got in 1999. The Nats merely grabbed vote from the center-right and right parties that they would have needed to form a coalition.

    Labour picked up some vote from the effective demise of the alliance, more from the greens and the rest of the alliance vote probably went to the greens. The labour campaign last election wasn’t even that effective at the ground-level – it was not as effective as the effort in 1999.

    Lots of room for improvement, and as long as the Nats continue to follow their FUD strategies – massively effective. You get two people starting to talk about what they’d expect a nat government to do & guess what – turns out that they expect mutually contradictory policies. The Nats will probably die in the ‘national’ campaign from disappointments about the expectations they have already induced.

  19. illuminatedtiger 19

    There’s a country that knows,
    that Howard’s on the nose,
    so they’re climbing a stairway to Kevin.

    We’ll all back this new twerp,
    with his smug nerdy smirk,
    who needs facebook and myspace, to find friends

    He’ll win you’re hearts with tacky t-shirts – join the team now
    It’s A.L.P U.S.A style
    He’ll distance himself from the unions – he don’t like boys clubs
    He only likes clubs with strippers

    When he gets drunk on rum and gin,
    he can’t recall a single thing,
    and though he speaks good mandarin,
    he’s much more fluent speaking spin.

    He’s got no economic plan,
    but he can dance with Kerry-Anne,
    and fake the dawn in Vietnam,
    and (indecipherable) Latham,
    but he’s more (undecipherable) Gough Whitlam,

    And we’re climbing a stairway to Kev-an.

    Seriously though, good on him 🙂 .

  20. DS 20

    This election was first and foremost about a rejection of Howard’s right-wing extremism on Industrial Relations, and to a lesser extent about his habit of “fiddling while Rome burns” on Climate Change. Rudd simply had to stand still and not self-destruct in order to win.

    Anyway, now that the Australian Tories have pretty much committed suicide in the name of ideological purity (and it was suicide: without WorkChoices Howard would probably have won), their NZ equivalents would be wise to realise the electoral consequences of the right-wing ideology they hold so close to their hearts.

  21. AncientGeek 21

    IP: I presume you’re talking about the EFB. You are more than a little selective in your interpretation… In fact it shows the opposite of what you are trying to imply.

    The full section on the results says that the Howard goverment ran a advertising campaign of $55 million. The ACTU ran an earlier campaign of $2 million. It is pretty obvious from the results that the main target of the ACTU was awareness of the consequences of the Workchoice legislation. The effects for the Howard government were consequential to that.

    The ACTU campaign was largely run in 2006 (same as the employers campaign there at the same time), and trailed out in early 2007. Why that time period? Because legislation of this type is seldom if ever enacted close to an election. It is too dangerous politically. So campaigns that are for or against policy (rather than for or against parties) will usually occur in non-election years.

    Campaigns held in election years are therefore likely to be blatant electioneering. Therefore should be controlled as part of the election rules. Thats why the Nat’s don’t like the EFB.


    The results section in the description of the campaign actually reads…

    ” Result
    The initial advertising buy of just over $2 million shifted awareness of the laws from 38% to 77% and opposition to the laws from 38% to 64%.

    John Howard”s satisfaction ratings fell from 60% to 50% and the government vote from 54% to 46%.

    After $55 million of government advertising, opposition to the laws stayed the same, party voting intention stayed the same and Howard’s ratings dropped a further 9 points to 41%.

    Research conducted for the ACTU in March 2007 showed that 11% of voters had already changed their vote for the 2007 federal election because of the IR laws and a further 14% were considering it.

    In May 2007 Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey admitted the campaign had been an outstanding success.

    “It has resonated because it’s been the most sophisticated and political campaign in the history of this country,” Mr Hockey said.”

  22. Gruela 22

    Does anyone have any insight into how Rudd’s christianity will effect the development of social issues over there in the near future? I presume we can rule out any Oz equivalent of Civil Unions.

  23. r0b 23

    “Labor needs U” – that’s clever! And true. As AncientGeek noted, Labour has the activists, the people willing to put in the hard work. But more are always needed. Next year people – get involved…

  24. Nih 24

    Well, personally I’ll just go on defending reason and opposing stupidity where I see it, but it does seem likely that means siding with Labour on most things.

  25. AncientGeek 25

    Gruela – There is religion and then there is religion… You can’t label with a single brush.

    Personally I doubt that religion makes a lot of difference directly in a politicians decisions, ie as a matter of doctrine. To be a politician in a democracy tends to make you keenly aware of differing opinions. By the time someone gets into a position of being a PM, they usually start looking mostly at the “Art of the Possible”.

    Religion makes a difference in the political assessment of risk. A doctrine may provide a congealing point for opposition to a societal change – therefore increasing risk.

    You can use most major religious documents to justify almost anything. They’re accumulated and written over centuries, and are not very coherent. I’ve studied quite a few over the years.

    Personally I regard the religious justification as simple wrapping over resistance to societal change, ie an excuse to oppose to cover a simple emotional response. But then of course I have no ability to have faith in almost anything, so my opinion is probably a bit biased.

    Ummm I was going to put in a lot of historical stuff about why religious documents are so self-contradictory, and the effects through history – but this really isn’t the right location for that discussion.

    Suffice it to say that christians have to be incredibly selective about what they read in the bible if they want to retain faith.

    I’ve never bothered to look too extensively, but I’m sure that I could find parts of the bible that are both for and against the societal concepts that underly civil union.

  26. Gruela 26

    AncientGeek, please, not so many big words. Anyway, relax fella, I wasn’t having a go at religion. I don’t think there’s any to prying open that smelly old tin.

    What I really wanted to know was just HOW christian Rudd actually is. And I do think that for a lot of politicians, their faith does often over-ride political expediency when they’re in office. These are the sort of people who have no doubt that they’re the best candidates for running a whole damn country, after all, so it must come easily for them to also conclude that their own particular brand of faith must be the correct one.

    I find it hard to believe that Rudd’s politics aren’t coloured by his faith. I just wanted to know if anyone had any ideas as to what degree this was so.

  27. Nih 27

    Religion isn’t so much about what you do as who you want to please the most. And I’m not talking deities either.

  28. ahod 28

    Does anybody know why they spell ‘Labor’ in American English?

  29. Gruela 29

    ‘The ALP adopted the formal name Australian Labour Party in 1908, but changed to the American spelling of Labor from 1912. While it is standard practice in Australian English to spell the word labour with a u, the Party has spelt it without since Labor cabinet minister King O’Malley thought he would “modernise” the name; at the time, it seemed likely that Australia would move to American spellings.’

    Thank you, Wikipedia.

  30. ahod 30

    Haha, amazing – I didn’t even think to ask my mate Wiki!


  31. deemac 31

    being a christian is neither here nor there in Labour politics – the very high church Tony Blair led very right wing New Labour governments that pushed a solid progressive social agenda on gay rights (among other things)

  32. Gruela 32

    Thanks deemac, (although I can’t help but wonder if Blair would have cosied so closely to Bush if they hadn’t shared beliefs.)

    But I still wonder just how religious Rudd actually is, and whether this will colour his administration. I don’t mean to harp on, but I think it’s pretty important. It would have a definite impact on whether or not I would have voted for the guy.

  33. burt 33

    Time for change, the Labor party used that message well.

    Pity I’m not a National party supporter or I’d be disappointed that Labor have stormed home in Aussie, which I’m not. I think it was time for a change, just like it is here really.

    So has anyone heard yet if Rudd is going to peg a new “rich bastard” tax threshold in place and lock it in place against wage inflation and general common sense for 9 years? Do you think we should be comparing Labor in Aussie with Labour in NZ?

  34. Gruela 34

    I don’t think the Oz and NZ situations are comparable, for the simple reason that Labour in NZ don’t have the same range of open targets available for National to hit that the Liberals did.

    Labor in Oz had the Iraq war, which would be a plus for our Labour if it was brought into the election campaign by National, given some unfortunate remarks Key made when he was still only an MP.

    Labor in Oz had the Liberals’ new employment legislation. Again, National in NZ may want to keep as quiet as possible on this front.

    There were also things like the Tampa incident, and Australia’s overall treatment of refugees, all of which tarnished Howards reputation.

    And let’s not forget Kyoto. It may be a mess, but the Aussies have a lot to worry about with the environment and Howard really didn’t seem to be on top of that issue.

    I think National are going to have a much more difficult job to find areas to discredit Labour than Labor did with the Liberals over there.

  35. gobsmacked 35

    The predictable NZ media commentary (a comparison with Labour / National) is ignoring one vital difference.

    In Australia, Labor have swept to power with only 43-44% of the vote (still counting). They can do this because in Australia, if you vote for a minor party, then your SECOND PREFERENCE is all-important. In New Zealand we don’t get that option. Only your first choice matters.

    Would National “sweep to power” with 43-44% of the vote? No. They might form a government, but only after a deal with Winston or the Maori Party (or both). Then again, they could easily miss out. So the choice would be: National in power, minus most of their policies, or National in opposition yet again.

    There’s no comparison with Australia, really. To get the same result in New Zealand, National need to do MUCH BETTER than Rudd’s Labor. Ain’t gonna happen.

  36. ak 36

    burt: “Pity I’m not a National party supporter….”

    oh burt, stoppit, stoppit, you’re killing me!

    LABOR LANDSLIDE burt, TORY ANNIHILATION….read ’em and weep sunshine!

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