October 9, 2004


Howard claims victory (ABC au, 10/09/04)

Prime Minister John Howard has thanked the Australian people for his historic fourth federal election victory.

Federal Labor leader Mark Latham conceded defeat after the Howard Government won an increased majority in the federal Parliament.

Mr Howard was greeted with a tumultuous reception when he arrived to address the party faithful at the Wentworth Hotel in Sydney.

Christian party now a force in Australian election (GREG ANSLEY, 10/06/04, New Zealand Herald)
Beyond John Howard and Mark Latham, on the high ground above the Democrats and the Greens, a new crusade has been quietly mustering its troops for next Saturday's Australian election.

It is an impressive army: a political party lodged firmly in the creationism and social conservatism of the nation's evangelical and charismatic Christian faiths, tapping into values shared by Prime Minister Howard and many of his supporters.

The extent of its potential influence in Saturday's election has only just become apparent through a series of preference deals with every major party except the Greens, who it regards as corruptors of all that is decent and good.

Polls suggest that the Family First Party could gain one or more Senate seats in its own right. But of greater concern are the seats it is likely to help deliver.

Family First could negate the advantage the support of the Greens has given Labor in crucial seats, upset the Greens charge for the Senate and ensure the return of Howard's Coalition for another three years.

Family First values accord in many respects with those held by Howard - who personally negotiated the preference deal with the party - and in a number of areas cross into beliefs held by Labor, the Democrats and even the Greens. In the SA Parliament, Family First MP and party founder Andrew Evans has voted with Labor.

The party denies religious affiliations, despite the large presence of senior members involved in the Assemblies of God, and says its motivation is the wellbeing of the family as the foundation stone of society.

Family First may give Coalition control of the Senate (ABC au, 10/09/04)
With votes still being counted, the Coalition is on the brink of controlling the Senate with the help of minor party Family First.

The ABC's elections analyst Antony Green says figures, with 40 per cent of the vote counted, show preference deals in Victoria may hand Family First the final Senate seat in that state. [...]

Labor frontbencher Bob McMullan is not so sure Family First will get across the line.

"I think there's a fair chance it won't pan out like that. I think the Greens have got a good chance of winning the seat in Victoria," he said.

He says if it does come to pass, the sale of Telstra will be passed and there will be a number of industrial relations reforms that will "surprise unpleasantly a large number of working Australians".

He says he believes the result, should it pan out, will "change the political landscape more than any election result for quite some time".

Liberal Senator Nick Minchin is playing down the chances of the Coalition controlling the Senate.

"Let's remember they're social conservatives," he said.

Mr. Howard picking up seats is impressive enough but the rise of Family First could be especially significant because they seem to be the first Republican-style socially conservative party outside the U.S.. They may convince Tory parties throughout the Anglosphere that actually running to the Right can work.

-'By 8pm the word massacre was heard' (Miranda Devine, October 10, 2004, The Sun-Herald)
-New era dawns for an Australia in Howard's image (Commentary by Margo Kingston, October 10, 2004, Sydney Morning Herald)

Australia entered a new era last night. Australians roundly rejected the once compelling appeal of 'a fair go', which must now be considered a relic of our past rather than an expression of our essence.

They also may well have chosen to deliver John Howard effective control of the Senate. It is possible the Coalition will own half the Senate seats, meaning it can block Senate inquiries and amendments, thus removing the only effective accountibility for the Government left in our Parliament.

Latham's face had lost all colour by the time he conceded defeat. He looked shell shocked. You could tell at his Press Club address on Wednesday that he was prepared for defeat, but no-one in Labor expected a swing of 3 percent to Howard. It was a landslide. [...]

It is also clear that many voters have deserted Labor for The Greens permanently, and that there is severe disquiet in traditional Liberal seats, evidenced by a strong Greens vote. Australia has also begun to copy yet another American trend in supporting fundamentalist Christian candidates to Parliament. Howard's claim tonight that what united us was more important than what divided us was untrue. We are fracturing.

You'd have to think the Green Party could eventually supplant the Democrats here too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 9, 2004 11:07 AM

Mr. Howard's winning, assuming it holds up, is mighty reassuring. I was afraid that Senator Kerry's sister was a bellwether.

Family First is fine, but Australia out of Iraq would have been a disaster.

Posted by: old maltese at October 9, 2004 12:24 PM

Given the loopy voting rules Down Under, I thought it was Labour in a walk for sure. Shows how much I know.

Tomorrow, I'll be drinking Foster's to celebrate the victory while watching the ballgames.

Posted by: Bart at October 9, 2004 9:30 PM

Good on ya, mates!

Posted by: Mike Morley at October 9, 2004 9:30 PM


Though I don't know enough about all the details, doesn't this result (particulary the rise of the "Family First" party) auger well for the Aus. "instant runoff"

Landslide? Who's the 2nd choice did the FF voted for. Not Labor.

It is my view that an IR-off in the US would be a good thing, simply based upon turn out.

You often argue that the US is a "conservative" country. This is a feature that works in our favor.

1. On the night Clinton won office with Perot's help, Republicans picked up 5 seats.

2. Two years later, those new voters helped create a 50 seat swing.

3. On the day Ventura won, Republicans took over the MN assembly. The state has been trending right ever since.

If we are confident about our the "righteousness" of our cause, we have no reason to fear greater interest & participation.

Please consider.

Posted by: BB at October 9, 2004 11:44 PM


The Australians would be better served if Family First were in the Conservative Party transforming it and the Greens in the Left Party doing the same. The genius of our two party system is that the agendas of third parties get consumed by the major parties.

Posted by: oj at October 10, 2004 12:00 AM

See? Told you we were no Spain.

Posted by: Amos at October 10, 2004 4:07 AM


Though I agree in principle, and have made the same argument many times, I can't ignore the numbers that the Perot & Ventura phenomena represent.

These people end up in our column & the instant run off can get them there.

Posted by: BB at October 10, 2004 12:47 PM

Ventura's voters went Republican and gave MN Pawlenty. Perot's returned to the GOP and gave us the class of '94.

Posted by: oj at October 10, 2004 1:23 PM