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Sunday, October 10, 2004

Australian Election: John Howard wins historic fourth term

    Posted by Reena Ganga

The verdict is in. Prime Minister John Howard and the Coalition have swept back into power with a resounding win in the Federal election.

Pundits had been tipping a tight election, but in the end, Howard managed quite a comfortable victory with a swing of about 2 %.

Some of the new additions to the House of Representatives this year are millionaire businessman Malcolm Turnbull who has secured the blue-ribbon Liberal seat of Wentworth, and former Midnight Oil frontman, Peter Garrett, who won his Sydney seat of Kingsford Smith.

And in Tasmania, Labor felt the voter backlash against its forest policy after the Liberals claimed the northern seats of Bass and Braddon.

Howard's decisive victory has been attributed to interest rates, which have been likened to the Tampa crisis that handed the Coalition the 2001 federal election. The Liberal Party scare campaign that interest rates would rise under a Labor government, thus putting pressure on mortgages, seems to have paid off.

The election has resulted in an expanded majority for the Coalition in both Houses of Parliament, thus making it easier for the Government to push through legislation.

It will be interesting to see what happens now in regards to more controversial legislation, such as the privatisation of Telstra. The government wants to sell its 51.05 % stake in the country's biggest telco, but they've so far been knocked back twice by the Senate.

The election win makes will make John Howard Australia's second-longest serving prime minister behind Liberal Party founder Sir Robert Menzies.

Now what remains to be seen is whether the 65-year-old Prime Minister will ride out his full term in government, or hand over to his deputy, Peter Costello.

Update: Howard managed to overcome Murphy's Law

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