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
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.