Saturday, November 24, 2007

At last a new face in Australia

Bush Ally Defeated in Australia;
Australia’s prime minister, John Howard, one of President Bush’s staunchest allies in Asia, suffered a comprehensive defeat at the hands of the electorate on Saturday, as his Liberal Party-led coalition lost its majority in Parliament.

He will be replaced by Kevin Rudd, the Labor Party leader and a former diplomat. “Today Australia looks to the future,” Mr. Rudd told a cheering crowd in his home state of Queensland. “Today the Australian people have decided that we as a nation will move forward.”

Mr. Howard’s defeat, after 11 years in power, follows that of José María Aznar of Spain, who also backed the United States-led invasion of Iraq, and political setbacks for Tony Blair of Britain...

Mr. Rudd, 50, campaigned on a platform of new leadership to address broad concerns about the environment, health and education. He has said his first acts as prime minister would include pushing for the ratification of the Kyoto agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and negotiating the withdrawal of Australia’s 500 troops from Iraq...

Mr. Rudd’s dry image was altered by the news that he had visited a strip club during a trip to New York in 2003.

He was a diplomat in Beijing and speaks Mandarin. He impressed many with a fluent address to Chinese President Hu Jintao when Mr. Hu visited Australia in September.

Read John Quiggin for more coverage of the elections

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