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Australians elect new RC Premier

13 September 2013

THE federal election result in Australia has seen a churchgoing Anglican, Kevin Rudd, lose the Prime Ministership to a former seminarian, Tony Abbott, a practising Roman Catholic (pictured, above, before giving his victory speech on Saturday). Mr Abbott's Liberal/National Coalition won a decisive victory over Mr Rudd's Australian Labor Party in the election last Saturday, as opinion polls had predicted.

Mr Rudd, who has held on to his own seat in Parliament, despite some predictions that he might lose it, has now stepped down as leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP). Labor MPs are divided over whether he should also leave Parliament, given the widespread belief that he had destabilised the leadership of his predecessor as PM, Julia Gillard, which led to his reinstatement as Prime Minister in June this year.

The most likely candidate to replace him is Bill Shorten, a former trade-union leader who was Minister for Education and Workplace Relations in the defeated government.

Although counting is still proceeding, and no official declaration of the poll had been made when the Church Times went to press, the Coalition appears to have won 89 seats to the ALP's 56 seats in the House of Representatives. Minor parties and independents currently hold the remaining five seats.

Interest is now focused on the results in the elections for the Senate, the Australian Federal Parliament's Upper House. Preference deals made by a raft of minor parties in this election for half the Senate has meant that, because of the proportional election system, some candidates from unknown "micro" parties are likely to win Senate seats with small proportions of the vote.

At present, candidates from the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party, with 0.51 per cent of the primary vote, and the Australian Sports Party, with 0.22 per cent, are likely to enter the Senate for six-year terms.

Voters were faced with outsized Senate ballot-papers, containing up to 110 names in print so small that magnifying cards had to be provided in polling booths. To register a formal vote, they had to either number all the squares on the ballot paper, or vote for just one party, which had made its own preference deals in advance.

The Prime Minister-elect has already given support, in principle, to reform of the Senate electoral process.

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26 September 2022
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