Thursday, August 19, 2010

Choices in the Australian election

Australia has long been called the lucky country and to most outside observers that is the case. The Australian outback is full of minerals and elements the world wants, and as few people live in the harsh, sparcely vegetated environment no-one cares if they are strip-mined on the surface. The country represents about 75% of the world's gold production and has abundant iron ore, zinc, lead, bauxite, and coal, not to mention opals.

Politics there is mainly about how the proceeds from the booty is shared among the relatively small population and as usual there is the choice between left and right wing views on that. However, both sides seem to make policy on the hoof, generally in an attempt to outdo each other's promises and bribes. Politicians tend to be more colourful than in NZ and often are good entertainment value.

Australia's first female Prime Minister, red-haired Julia Gillard, who ousted Kevin Rudd in the June coup, wants endorsement from the country and no doubt saw the pugnacious Tony Abbott as an election opponent she could beat. She is probably correct; the fact that Australia has stayed out of recession - despite rather than because of the governments policies - gives her a good chance. The country's third party, the Greens, polled 7.8% in the last election of November 2007 and although this did not translate into any seats under the single member preferential electoral system, their sympathies and thus preferences are with the Labor party and not the Liberal/National coalition.


With 78.1% of votes counted, the Greens had lifted their share of the primary vote to 11.5% at the expense of Labor. Out of 150 seats in the parliament the right wing Coalition is predicted to finish with 70 seats compared to Labor's 72, the Greens 1, and 3 Independents. Labor can count on the support of the Greens but not the Independents.

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