24 November 2007

Howard Out as Aussie PM

A long-awaited election has come and gone in Australia, and John Howard and his Liberal (read: conservative) majority is out, Kevin Rudd and his Labour (read: liberal) majority is in. 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.

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