Australia’s opposition Labour party has swept to victory in a general election that has brought the curtain down on 11 years of conservative rule. Kevin Rudd presented himself as a new generation leader, promising to pull Australian combat troops out of Iraq and sign the Kyoto climate treaty. With counting continuing Labour appeared to have captured a 5 percent vote swing, ensuring a parliamentary majority.
Liberal Prime Minister John Howard conceded defeat, wishing Rudd well for the future. It ends a distinguished political career. The Liberal leader won four consecutive elections and was Australia’s second-longest serving prime minister. He had offered big tax cuts, but few new policies, focusing instead on his strong economic record and attacking Labour’s links to the trade union movement.
The opposition appears to have cashed in on anger over labour laws and rising interest rates, which put homeowners under heavy financial pressure.