U.S. Presidential Race Taking Shape as Dole Drops Out

Texas Governor George W. Bush and wife LauraWhilst the first primary election in New Hampshire is still 4 months away, the contest for the 2000 American Presidential election is taking shape.

Republican candidate, Elizabeth Dole, wife of the 1996 Republican nominee, Senator Bob Dole, quit the race last week, further winnowing the conservative field.

Dole’s withdrawal follows the departure of Lamar Alexander, John Kasich and former Vice-President Dan Quayle.

Texas Governor George W. Bush remains the Republican frontrunner, having raised close to $100 million in campaign funds since the beginning of this year.

Bush’s candidacy is threatened only by Arizona Senator John McCain and the publishing magnate Steve Forbes.

On the Democratic side, a two-man contest between incumbent vice-president Al Gore and former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley will possibly hold the most interest in the coming months.

Taxes More Certain Than A Republic: Howard

Responding to media reports, the Prime Minister, John Howard, has issued the following statement:

I will, in the near future, outline my reasons for supporting the present constitutional system.

I will not, as speculated in one newspaper today, indicate that I think a republic is inevitable. Others may hold that view. I do not.

Benjamin Franklin was right when he said: “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”.

The Republic referendum will be held in 12 days time.

New Head of Defence Department Appointed

Prime Minister John Howard has announced the appointment of Dr. Allan Hawke as Secretary to the Department of Defence, replacing Mr. Paul Barratt who was sacked in controversial circumstances earlier this year.

In announcing the decision, Mr Howard said:

“Dr. Hawke has served effectively as Secretary to the Department of Transport and Regional Services since 1996 and, before that, as Secretary to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Dr. Hawke will bring to his new position not only experience at the Secretary level but also a sound knowledge of defence issues. From the mid-1980s he held a number of senior positions in the Department of Defence, culminating in his appointment as Deputy Secretary, Strategy and Intelligence, in the Department from 1991 to 1993.”

Dr. Hawke will take up his appointment on Thursday 21 October 1999 for a period of three years.

Departmental secretaries are an important aspect of the Australian political system. As the administrative
heads of government departments, they are responsible for the implementation of government policy and legislation, as well as the provision of advice to the government.

Dr. Hawke’s relationship with Defence Minister, John Moore, will be of interest to political observers, especially in the light of the rapid breakdown of relations with Mr. Barratt.

I’ve Never Met a Labor Voter: Felicity Kennett

The wife of former Victorian Premier, Jeff Kennett, is reported in today’s Sunday Herald-Sun as saying “I still haven’t met anyone who says they voted Labor” in the recent State election.

Mrs. Kennett also says that she believes the ALP outsmarted her husband by successfully marketing the word “arrogant” to describe the former Premier who was tipped out of office last week. “He was the best Premier Victoria ever had,” Mrs. Kennett said.

The Murdoch-owned newspaper also reports today that Kennett was on the verge of advising the Governor, Sir James Gobbo, to swear in his government on October 1 for a new term until Mildura independent, Russell Savage, rang the Governor’s official secretary, Charles Curwen. An hour later, Kennett rang Savage to say he had changed his mind, the paper says.

Savage claims Kennett told him he had the support of Gippsland East independent, Craig Ingram. All three independents announced their support for the formation of a minority government a week ago.

The Age today publishes a story about the fight over water in Gippsland that led to the defeat of the local National Party member and the election of the Bracks government.

Eric Reece, ‘Electric Eric’, Former Premier of Tasmania, Dies, 90

Eric Reece, twice Labor Premier of Tasmania, has died, aged 90.

Reece, a strong proponent of hydro-electric power, who earned the soubriquet “Electric Eric”, was the second longest-serving Premier of Tasmania, completing two terms from 26 August 1958 until 26 May 1969, and again from 3 May 1972 until 31 March 1975.

Reece had recently come out in support of the “Yes” case for the Republican referendum.

Reece became Premier in 1958 following the retirement of long-time Labor leader, Robert Cosgrove. He faced an early test of strength in 1959 when he dismissed Dr. R.J.D. Turnbull as Treasurer. Turnbull had been charged with bribery over a lottery licence scandal, but a jury had been unable to agree on a verdict.

Reece held an early election in 1959, following the enlargement of the House of Assembly to 35 members. Under the Hare-Clark method of proportional representation, this meant that the lower house could no longer produce a tied result. Reece won the election with the support of an independent member. He went on to win another election in 1964, securing 19 seats to 16.

In 1969, Reece was toppled following an election that returned 17 Labor and 17 Liberal members. Kevin Lyons, a former leader of the Liberal Party, who had resigned from the party after a dispute over pre-selection, gave his support to the Liberal Party under Angus Bethune and Reece became Opposition leader.

Following a divisive debate over the damming of Lake Pedder in 1972, Reece led the ALP to its best election win since 1941, winning 21 seats and 55% of the vote. He retired in 1975, following an ALP decision to impose a mandatory retiring age of 65.

Current Tasmanian Premier, Jim Bacon, today described Reece as the greatest Premier Tasmania had ever had. A State Funeral will be held later this week.

National Party Dissolves Victorian Coalition

Victorian National Party Leader, Pat McNamaraThe Victorian National Party has walked out of the coalition arrangement it has had with the Liberal Party since the early 1990s.

The decision was announced at a National Party organisational meeting in Melbourne on Friday 22 October. National Party leader Pat McNamara said that the party was not interested in a coalition “at any price”.

The National Party governed in coalition with the Liberals between 1992 and 1999, despite the Liberal Party having the parliamentary numbers to govern in their own right.

At the recent State elections, the Nationals lost 2 seats, Gippsland East to an Independent, and Warrnambool to the Liberals, reducing their numbers in the Legislative Assembly to 7.

The decision to go it alone could have important ramifications in the Parliament, especially if a National Party MP accepts the position of Speaker. It is rumoured that the Labor government may offer the Speaker’s position to Barry Steggall, the member for Swan Hill.

Deputy Liberal leader, Denis Napthine, said today that maintenance of the coalition in Parliament was an important priority.

Bracks Labor Government Ministry

The Bracks Labor Government in Victoria was sworn in on Wednesday October 20, 1999.

This followed the decision by the 3 independents in the Legislative Assembly (Russell Savage, Craig Ingram & Susan Davies) to give their support to the formation of a minority Labor government.

The average age of the Government is 44.3 years. There are 8 women (44%) in the Ministry, more than in any other Australian government.

First Bracks ALP Ministry 1999
No. Portfolio Minister Age
Premier; Treasurer; Multicultural Affairs Steve Bracks
Deputy Premier; Health; Planning John Thwaites
Attorney-General; Manufacturing; Racing Rob Hulls
Finance; Assistant Treasurer; State and Regional Development John Brumby
Transport; House Manager Peter Batchelor
Education; Arts Mary Delahunty
Police and Emergency Services; Corrections Andre Haermeyer
Housing; Aged Care; assisting in Health Bronwyn Pike
Sport, Recreation and Youth Affairs; assisting in Planning Justin Madden
Small Business; Consumer Affairs Marsha Thomson
Energy and Resources; Ports; assisting in State Development Candy Broad
Local Government; WorkCover; assisting in Transport (Roads) Bob Cameron
Gaming; Major Projects; Tourism; assisting in Multicultural Affairs John Pandazopoulos
Agriculture; Aboriginal Affairs Keith Hamilton
Environment and Conservation; Women’s Affairs Sherryl Garbutt
Leader in the Legislative Council; Industrial Relations; assisting in WorkCover Monica Gould
Post-compulsory Education, Training and Employment Lyn Kosky
Community Services Christine Campbell



Labor Government Takes Office in Victoria

Victorian Labor Premier, Steve BracksA minority Labor government headed by Steve Bracks was sworn into office just before noon on Wednesday, marking the end of 7 years and 14 days of coalition government under Jeff Kennett.

The new government has 42 seats in the Legislative Assembly and will be supported by the 3 Independent members of parliament. The new Liberal/National Party Opposition will have 43 seats.

The Labor Government will not control the Legislative Council, where the coalition parties hold 30 seats to Labor’s 14.

Bracks will head the first Labor adminstration in Victoria since Joan Kirner was defeated by Kennett in October 1992. Kirner succeeded John Cain, who had brought the ALP to office after 27 years in Opposition.

Labor Governments Rare In Victoria

Steve Bracks will become a member of a small group of Labor Premiers of Victoria when he takes the oath of office on October 20.

Only 6 people – five men and one woman – have been Labor Premiers since Victoria achieved responsible government in 1856.

Labor governments have taken office in Victoria for a total of only 19 years, 3 months and 14 days during this century.

Of that period, over half was during the Cain-Kirner years of the 1980s and early 1990s.

Labor Governments in Victoria
Premier Commenced Left Length
George Elmslie
9 Dec 1913
22 Dec 1913
13 days
George Prendergast
18 July 1924
18 Nov 1924
4 months
Edmond Hogan
20 May 1927
22 Nov 1928
1 year, 6 months, 2 days
Edmond Hogan
12 Dec 1929
19 May 1932
2 years, 5 months, 7 days
John Cain, snr
14 Sept 1943
18 Sept 1943
4 days
John Cain, snr
21 Nov 1945
20 Nov 1947
2 years
John Cain, snr
17 Dec 1952
7 June 1955
2 years, 5 months, 21 days
John Cain, jnr
8 April 1982
10 Aug 1990
8 years, 4 months, 2 days
Joan Kirner
10 Aug 1990
6 Oct 1992
2 years, 1 month, 26 days


Former Victorian Premier Jeff KennettJeff Kennett has resigned as Victorian Premier. Steve Bracks will be sworn in at 11.30 on Wednesday morning as Victoria’s first Labor Premier since 1992.

Kennett visited the Governor, Sir James Gobbo, at 4pm on Tuesday to tender his resignation. Labor leader Steve Bracks visited the Governor shortly afterwards.

At a brief press conference later, Kennett claimed the new government had no mandate and attacked the three independent members of parliament who delivered government to the ALP.

Kennett will also resign as Liberal Party leader on Tuesday 26 October. It is expected that Dr. Denis Napthine, the newly-elected deputy leader, will succeed Kennett, although other candidates may emerge in coming days.