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Newspaper Editorials Vary In Attitude To Federal Election

The nation’s newspapers have editorialised on the Federal Election with support divided between the Howard government and the Beazley opposition.

Voters Left Little To Work With – Canberra Times

The Canberra Times does not make a recommendation to its readers, saying that “the choice Australians must make tomorrow is perhaps the least important of any election in recent times. And the choice is perhaps the least stark. That said, it is perhaps the worst offering Australians have had at election time for 40 years.”

The paper says: “Both sides support the immoral treatment of asylum-seekers and the folly of shoulder-to-shoulder support of the United States in its ill-directed attempts to bring to justice those responsible for the terrorist attacks on September 11.”

In conclusion, the paper says: “In the end, voters must decide whether they want to risk confirming with a third term Mr Howard’s social conservatism and inward foreign policy as the way we and the rest of the world define Australia in return for marginally more responsible economic management, or whether they want to accept the economic risk that might come with Labor’s long-term spending plans and industrial-relations changes in return for a more optimistic and confident national outlook.”

A Time To Look Ahead, Not Back – The Age

The Age says that John Howard “does not deserve the support of the Australian people”. In an editorial tinged with disappointment, the paper says:

“Mr Howard has asked the Australian people to re-elect his government on the basis of his stand on asylum seekers. He has asked them to re-elect his government on the basis that he has shown true leadership on this issue. We believe the opposite is true: he has shown no leadership on this crucial issue. He has pandered to fear.”

The Age endorses the ALP with some qualifications, saying: “The centrepiece of Labor’s platform, the projected refashioning of Australia as a “Knowledge Nation” is consistent with the commitment to global competitiveness and profoundly extends it. The details of the project have not been fully elaborated, but its aims match the nation’s need to be globally competitive. And Mr Beazley is more likely to deal with the unfinished business of reconciliation and the republic, issues of social cohesion, than Mr Howard.”

Future Matters More Than Past

The Sunday Telegraph, part of Rupert Murdoch’s stable of Australian newspapers, opts to support the ALP and Kim Beazley in the election. The paper says:

“Mr Howard, sadly, appears to have given up on any reform agenda so necessary for Australia’s future. The past year has seen his Government overtaken by policy initiatives which have blown the Budget surplus. Worse, they have been driven by opinion polls and vote catching, rather than the economic and social well-being of our nation. During this election campaign, Mr Howard has failed to deliver a clear vision for what a third-term Howard Government would bring Australia.

“Mr Beazley, on the other hand, has articulated a sound domestic policy vision for Australia. His agenda is one that would transform Australia into a 21st century country with quality schools and universities, more research opportunities, improved health systems, and innovative job creation.

“The Labor Party’s domestic policy platform would create a better Australia for the future and this makes Mr Beazley the best equipped leader to govern after November 10.”

It’s Time For A Change – The Economist

The Economist magazine, a conservative British publication, argues for the election of a Labor government and says that the Howard administration has lost its reforming zeal. The magazine also criticises Howard on reconciliation and refugees: “In helping to bring an end to the attitudes of the past—many associated with the white-Australia policy that characterised the country for so long—Labor would almost certainly be more successful than Mr Howard’s team. If he does indeed turn out to be the lucky prime minister, Australia might just cease to be the lucky country—for a while at least.”

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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