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Archives for January 2000

The Next Ten Years: John Howard’s Federation Address

This is the text of Prime Minister John Howard’s Federation Address.

Howard set out “some of the goals which I believe Australia can achieve by 2010 if there are appropriate national policies in place”. He focussed on the economy, society, physical and intellectual infrastructure, and foreign and defence policies.

Text of John Howard’s Federation Address.

John HowardTwo years ago, I initiated this series of annual Federation Addresses to focus on the broad challenges confronting national policy making and to outline the priorities of the Federal Government in meeting them.

This third Federation Address is the first of a new decade, let alone a new century and a new millennium. For that reason, I thought it would be appropriate to adopt a slightly broader framework than in previous Federation Addresses.

Today I want to highlight some of the goals which I believe Australia can achieve by 2010 if there are appropriate national policies in place. A decade is a sensible time horizon in such a context. A lesser period can lose sight of important longer term possibilities and trends, while a longer perspective of twenty, thirty or even fifty years, becomes somewhat too dependent on subjective judgements and unknown variables. [Read more…]


Queensland Government’s Future Hangs In The Balance

The survival of the Queensland Labor Government led by Peter Beattie depends on its ability to retain two usually safe seats in by-elections next weekend.

Following the 1998 State Election, Beattie held 44 seats in the 89-seat parliament. He was able to form government with the support of Independent member, Peter Wellington. At that election Pauline Hanson’s One Nation won 11 seats. Since then One Nation has split and 4 members sit as independents and five more as members of the City-Country Alliance. The ALP won back one seat at a by-election.

The by-elections are being held in Bundamba, vacant following the retirement of former minister Bob Gibbs, and Woodridge, vacant due to the resignation of Bill D’Arcy. D’Arcy has since been charged with a number of sex offences. The controversy over this and the large superannuation payout ($660,000) collected by D’Arcy two days after he resigned threatens to upset the ALP’s chances of victory. Bundamba is not believed to be in danger.

If Beattie loses either by-election next Saturday he will be forced to rely again on the support of Wellington. An independent candidate, Russell Lutton, is polling strongly in Woodridge and if elected has pledged to support Beattie.

Queensland Parliament
Party 1995 1998 Now
ALP
44
44
45
Liberal
15
9
9
National
29
23
23
Independent
1
2
6
One Nation
11
0
City-Country Alliance
5
Total
89
89
89

Clinton Attacks Congress In Final State Of The Union Address

With 51 weeks remaining in his second term of office, President Bill Clinton today delivered his eighth and final State of the Union Address. In it he attacked the Republican-controlled Congress: “For too long this Congress has been standing still on some of our most pressing national priorities.”

Speaking to the joint houses of Congress, the President proposed a $350 billion tax cut and increased spending on schools and health care. He also argued for photo ID licenses for handgun purchases.

There were a number of references to Vice-President Al Gore in the speech as Clinton attempted to promote his prospects in this year’s presidential election. Clinton also emphasised the healthy condition of the American economy:

“We begin the new century with over 20 million new jobs. The fastest economic growth in more than 30 years. The lowest unemployment rates in 30 years. The lowest poverty rates in 20 years. The lowest African-American and Hispanic unemployment rates on record. The first back-to-back surpluses in 42 years.”

The speech was a clear justification and defence of the 7 years of Clinton’s administration and an attempt to avoid the “lame duck” tag often experienced by second-term presidents in their final year.


Labor Surging Everywhere In Latest Polls

The Australian Labor Party has a commanding lead Federally and in all the States, according to the latest polling data released by the Morgan polls.

Morgan Polling Figures
Nov 1999-Jan 2000
Govt.
ALP 2PP%
L-NP 2PP %
Federal
56
44
Victoria
57
43
NSW
61
39
QLD
59
41
S.A.
56
44
W.A.
54.5
45.5
TAS
52.5
30

All the polls were taken in November-December or early January and indicate a developing swing to the ALP across the country. The Federal Opposition has a commanding lead over the Howard government and is well ahead in the eastern states of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

Western Australia is the only State due to hold an election this year and Morgan puts the ALP’s two-party-preferred vote at 54.5%. In South Australia, the minority Liberal government of John Olsen is well behind the Labor Opposition. In Victoria, the honeymoon continues for the Bracks administration with 57%.

A Federal election is not due until late 2001, so the Howard government is in no immediate danger, although the continuing controversy about the implementation of the GST will further erode its support in the coming months.

Whereas the 1980s was a decade of Labor governments federally and in most of the States, the mid-1990s was dominated by the coalition parties. This began to change in 1995 when Bob Carr led the ALP to a narrow win in NSW and Peter Beattie scraped into office in Queensland. A clear election win for Jim Bacon in Tasmania in 1998 was followed by a two-party-preferred win for Kim Beazley in the Federal election and the re-election of the Carr government in 1999. A minority Labor government was formed in Victoria 3 months ago.

Whilst implementation of the GST will be the major political hurdle for the federal government this year, the Opposition is also coming under attack from various quarters over its perceived reluctance to provide new policy directions. Some criticism of Kim Beazley’s leadership has occurred in recent times, but he is not in any immediate danger of being toppled.


Bush Wins Iowa Caucus; Strong Showing By Forbes; Gore Crushes Bradley

Texas Governor George Bush has had a comfortable victory in the Iowa Republican Party caucus today. Bush has polled 41% of the votes cast, compared to 30% for millionaire publisher Steve Forbes.

The next nearest contender was black talk-show host and former ambassador Alan Keyes on 14%. Conservative morals campaigner Gary Bauer polled 9%, ahead of Arizona Senator John McCain on 5%. Utah Senator Orrin Hatch polled 1%.

The result should cement Bush’s position as the most-favoured candidate for the Grand Old Party (GOP), although next week’s primary election in New Hampshire could be won by McCain. Forbes will undoubtedly take comfort from the result.

Early in the night, American media networks also proclaimed Vice-President Al Gore the victor in the Democratic Party caucus, but figures were slow to come in. Latest counting has Gore polling 66% to Bradley’s 33%.

The caucus elections reflect the votes of approximately 100,000 registered voters in each party. They are held in several hundred precincts across the state and do not necessarily involve a secret ballot. The primary elections starting next week in New Hampshire are considered a more reliable indication of support for the competing candidates.

An upset win by McCain in New Hampshire would not necessarily be enough to derail the Bush campaign, although a Bush defeat in South Carolina on February 19 would present a problem for the putative nominee, especially if McCain was able to do well in Michigan and his home state of Arizona on February 22.

Gore is clearly cruising to a comfortable victory in the Democratic Party. The advantage of vice-presidential incumbency, Gore’s more assertive campaigning style, combined with question marks over Bradley’s health, point to an early withdrawal by the former New Jersey senator.


Australian Democrats National Constitution And Regulations

This is the Australian Democrats’ National Constitution And Regulations

(The Regulations appear in italic type)

The document is effective as at January 2000 [Read more…]


2000 US Presidential Primary Election Dates

This table shows the dates of primary and caucus elections for the Democratic and Republican parties for the 2000 presidential election. [Read more…]


U.S. Presidential Election About To Hot Up

The American Presidential election marathon gets underway during this month.

GoreSeveral months of primary elections and party caucuses will culminate in August conventions which will officially nominate the Republican Party and Democratic Party candidates. The general election will take place on Tuesday 7 November.

President Bill Clinton is not contesting the election because of a constitutional provision which prevents him being elected for more than two four-year terms.

Vice-President Al Gore is the leading candidate for the Democratic Party, although he is feeling the heat from former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley. At this stage, Texas Governor George Bush is the front runner for the Republican Party, although he too is facing a convincing challenge from Arizona Senator John McCain.

The primaries are the American form of party pre-selection, whereby registered party voters in each state vote to select delegates to attend the party conventions. Delegates are pledged to support particular candidates. The candidate who garners the support of a majority of delegates becomes the party’s nominee for president.

On January 24 the Iowa caucuses take place for both the Republican and Democratic parties. Simulataneously, a Republican caucus will take place in Alaska. But the primary season becomes serious on February 1 when the first major primary in the small north-eastern state of New Hampshire takes place. The primary season may well produce a winning candidate for each party at the conclusion of voting on “Super Tuesday”, March 7, when 16 states will hold primary and caucus elections, including the big states of California, New York and Ohio.


Elliot Richardson, Watergate Hero, Dies At 79

The Attorney-General who rebuffed President Richard Nixon at the height of the Watergate crisis has died. Elliot Richardson was the hero of the “Saturday Night Massacre” in October 1973 when Nixon fired the Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.

Richardson resigned rather than dismiss Cox and the Deputy Attorney-General William Ruckelshaus was fired for similarly refusing to obey Nixon’s directive.

Cox was eventually dismissed by Robert Bork who paid the penalty years later when his nomination to the Supreme Court was rejected by the US Senate.

Richardson was 79. He died of a cerebral haemorrhage in Boston, Massachusetts.


2000 Dawns: Yeltsin Quits, Y2K Fizzles, Indian Hijack Hostages Freed, Cabinet Papers Released

Sydney HarbourThe new century began today with fireworks spectaculars around the world. Australia was amongst the first nations to usher in what many incorrectly regard as the new millennium.

Fireworks displays in Sydney and Melbourne were attended by hundreds of thousands of people. Now only the United States and islands west wait to herald the new year. Click here to watch MS-NBC television coverage.

In a dramatic move that kept politics to the forefront on new year’s eve, Russian President Boris Yeltsin announced his immediate resignation, television cameras capturing the handover of the nuclear briefcase to current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Pundits speculate that Yeltsin’s departure is designed to assist Putin to win an early presidential election as the war in Chechnya drags on.

No major problems have been reported with the Year 2000 (Y2K) computer bug. Around the western world and elsewhere, computer systems appear to have handled the rollover to the new year without significant difficulty.

The Indian hijacking crisis is over following the release of 155 passengers who have now been flown to Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. The government of Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee arranged the hostages’ freedom by freeing three men convicted of terrorism-related charges in connection with Kashmir, a Himalayan region claimed by both India and Pakistan. The fate of the hijackers is not yet clear.

In Australia, Cabinet documents from 1969 have been released under the 30 year rule which show that the then coalition government led by John Gorton experienced a major internal debate about Australian participation in the Vietnam war. In a revelation that will enhance Gorton’s reputation, it appears that Gorton argued in favour of an immediate withdrawal, whilst Country Party leader John McEwen and senior Minister William McMahon favoured continued involvement as means of maintaining the alliance with the United States.

In revelations that will further diminish his already poor reputation, McMahon, who was Prime Minister between 1971 and 1972, before losing office to Labor’s Gough Whitlam, is depicted in an article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald as an inveterate leaker of Cabinet documents.