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Pope Benedict XVI To Resign On February 28; First Papal Resignation Since 1415

Pope Benedict XVI is to resign on February 28.

Citing health concerns, the former Cardinal Ratzinger, Archbishop of Munich and Freising, has been Pope since 2005.

Pope Gregory XII was the last Pope to resign, in 1415.

Statement released by the Vatican.


Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican,

10 February 2013


Coalition Outpolls Labor In Australia Day Honours

The annual list of Australia Day honours has been released.

Politically, the Liberal and National Parties have done well in this year’s honours.

The former Deputy Prime Minister, Tim Fischer, and the former Victorian Premier, Jeff Kennett, have been made ACs, Companions of the Order of Australia, the highest category.

Lynton Crosby, the former federal director of the Liberal Party, was made an AO. Crosby has been in the news in recent days for his role in advising the British Conservative Party leader, Michael Howard. Howard has announced an immigration policy which includes a crackdown on asylum seekers. [Read more…]

John Howard’s Speech to the NSW State Convention of the Liberal Party

This is the text of Prime Minister John Howard’s speech to the NSW Convention of the Liberal Party.

Text of John Howard’s speech to the NSW Convention of the Liberal Party.

John HowardThank you very much Michael for those very warm words of introduction. To Shane Stone the Federal President, Kerry Chikarovski, the Leader of the New South Wales Opposition, to my many ministerial and parliamentary colleagues and most importantly of all my fellow members of the New South Wales Division of the Liberal Party.

Not surprisingly I would like to share with you this morning some thoughts on the past year and also some ideas about the year ahead at a national political level. But I would like to start my remarks this morning by addressing an issue that is very important to the future strength and survival of the New South Wales Division.

I want to congratulate the Executive of the party here in New South Wales for the decision it took last night to establish a committee of management to run the affairs of this party in the months ahead. [Read more…]

Tim Fischer To Retire On July 20

The Deputy Prime Minister, Tim Fischer, announced his retirement from the Federal Government on July 20.

Tim FischerSpeaking to the House of Representatives just after 3pm, the National Party Leader announced that he was quitting as Deputy Prime Minister, Leader of the National Party and Minister for Trade.

He cited personal reasons for his decision. Mr. Fischer’s young son, Harrison, is autistic and it is believed that Mr. Fischer wishes to spend more time with his wife and child.

Mr. Fischer said that he would remain in Parliament as the member for Farrer and said he would devote some time to touring the country and thanking people for his time in politics.

Deputy Leader, John Anderson, the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, is likely to succeed Mr. Fischer as Leader of the National Party. Mark Vaile, the Minister for Argiculture, Fisheries and Forestry, is likely to be the new Deputy Leader. [Read more…]

1998 Federal Election: National Party Advertisement

This is a National Party advertisement broadcast during the 1998 federal election.

It features the Leader of the National Party, Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer.

  • Tim Fischer

1998 Federal Election: Tim Fischer National Party Campaign Launch

This is the official transcript of National Party leader Tim Fischer’s 1998 election campaign launch speech.

It was Fischer’s last campaign launch as leader. He retired from politics in July 1999.

98-09-18_tim-fischer-campaign-launch 1998 Federal Election – Week 1

These reports are reproduced exactly as they appeared in 1998. Only the formatting has been changed and links updated. They are retained here as an archive from the earliest days of this website.


Day 1

HowardFollowing the Labor Party’s near-certain win last night in the Tasmanian election, Prime Minister John Howard went to Government House at 8.30 this morning to advise the Governor-General to call a General Election for Saturday October 3. Howard made the official announcement at 11.30am. The election is to be held 6 months earlier than is required.

Howard claimed that the election would be about economic management, saying that he had a ‘plan’, whereas the ALP did not. The Prime Minister also said that he would not make any deals with One Nation after the election.

The Howard-led Liberal/National Party coalition government was elected in March 1996 following 13 years of Labor rule under Bob Hawke and Paul Keating. The coalition holds 91 seats in the House of Representatives, compared to 49 held by the ALP. There are 8 Independents, 5 of whom are ex-coalition members. The ALP needs to win an extra 27 seats to form a government.

The 5-week election campaign gets into full swing today following yesterday’s announcement by Prime Minister John Howard. A hectic round of radio and television appearances can be expected by the party leaders throughout the day.

This is the first Federal election to be held in October since 1980, when the Fraser government was returned to office with a reduced majority. Then, the coalition won partly because of a last-minute television and newspaper advertising campaign that falsely argued that the ALP intended to impose a capital gains tax on the family home. Television advertising probably won’t begin for several days in this election.

It is now clear that the PM was keen to avoid a sitting of Federal Parliament in the lead-up to the election. Victorian Premier, Jeff Kennett, has announced that State Parliament will not sit during the campaign, indicating that the Federal government is diligently avoiding any possibility of parliamentary questioning or scrutiny. The Opposition’s campaign against Resources Minister, Senator Warwick Parer, over claims of conflict of interest, was one line of attack best suited to the parliamentary arena and the legal privilege that attaches to it.

Today is likely to see the first of many opinion polls predicting the election outcome. In recent years the NEWSPOLL organisation has established a reputation for being the most accurate poll, a reputation that was enhanced by its polling in the weekend’s Tasmanian election.

BeazleyThe first skirmishes of the election campaign occurred yesterday. The Prime Minister was called a drunk by an RSL member. Opposition Leader, Kim Beazley, visited a milk factory. Shadow Treasurer, Gareth Evans, was on the defensive over the ALP’s economic record and the Government was defending the last-minute appointment on the weekend of Bob Halverson as Ambassador to Ireland. Halverson was the former Speaker of the House of Representatives. He resigned earlier this year and it was widely believed that he had been forced out by John Howard.

The diplomatic posting to Ireland is an appointment steeped in controversial political history. In 1974, Gough Whitlam appointed his arch-opponent, former DLP leader, Senator Vince Gair, to the Dublin post. The outrage over this attempt to create an extra Senate vacancy resulted in the early election of 1974. Later, the Labor government appointed former Western Australian Premier, Brian Burke, to the same post. Burke was forced to relinquish the position and returned home to face criminal charges that saw him consigned to government housing at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

Former Prime Ministers Fraser (Liberal), Whitlam, Hawke and Keating (Labor) issued an open letter to all Australians imploring them to put last any party that supported racism. Pauline Hanson said she favoured removing former Prime Ministers from the public payroll. The Australian Democrats also opened their campaign, urging a vote for Democrats to counter Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.

The battle for the marginal seats will be the focus of the election campaign. In Victoria, one marginal seat that the ALP has to win is the Dandenongs-based electorate of La Trobe. Currently held by the American-born Bob Charles, the ALP is fielding Carolyn Hirsh. She requires a swing of 1.4% to win the seat. She was interviewed by Steve Price on 3AW yesterday afternoon.

FischerLike a football grand final where the two teams size up each other in the opening minutes whilst doing a lot of pushing and shoving, the second full day of the election campaign was characterised by a series of incidents.

The Liberal Party’s web site was hacked into, the party officials argued over whether there should one or two televised debates during the campaign, and the first television commercials were screened.

The Newspoll showed support for the government at 40%, the ALP 40%, One Nation 10% and Others 10%, suggesting the possibility of a tight race dependent on One Nation preferences.

Liberal Party adThe Sydney Morning Herald’s Margo Kingston suggested that we could all be in for one of the wildest election rides in living memory as the major parties contemplate the need to attract the preferential support of One Nation. The party (David Oldfield?) suggested that One Nation may issue a split how-to-vote ticket, rather than put Labor last, as it did in the Queensland election.

Amidst all this, rumours persist that Howard will announce a drastic funding cut to ATSIC as a way of shoring up One Nation support in rural electorates.

In the policy contest, the ALP announced an Industry policy as commentators wondered whether the government will be able to keep the focus of the campaign on tax.

Electoral Footnote: Reports from the American state of Oklahoma show that 21% of voters in a Democratic Party primary last week voted for a dead candidate.

Day 5

DemocratsYesterday, despite predictions that Australia’s unemployment rate will continue to rise, Prime Minister Howard proclaimed us the “strongman of Asia”, a phrase redolent with unfortunate dictatorial connotations. Perhaps this was part of the emerging Liberal campaign to paint Kim Beazley as a weak leader, or as Howard quaintly put it, a man without a “ticker”.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the political divide, the Australian Democrats targeted One Nation with a series of campaign bill-boards linking the Hansonites with guns and racism. It’s a strange tactic considering that the Democrats may have less to fear from One Nation than they do from a polarised vote between the major parties which leaves them left out like they were in the 1993 GST-election.

HarradineSenator Brian Harradine yesterday continued his routine of never committing himself to anything until he has to by first announcing his retirement and then spending all day suggesting that he’ll probably stay after all. Those who regard his conduct over the Wik legislation as disgracefully letting Howard off the hook will no doubt be hoping that he finally decides to give the game away.

Opposition Veterans Affairs spokesman, Laurie Ferguson, found himself under attack at an RSL conference in Sydney yesterday after he delivered a speech attacking the impact of a GST on the elderly. Aged diggers slow handclapped from the gallery and one of their number said that politics and religion were never discussed in the RSL and probably shouldn’t be discussed in Lodge meetings either!

The ALP has produced a cute little computer game which is available on their web site and allows you to chase Howard ministers around your screen, click on them and watch Howard bash them with a mallet. If only…..

Day 6

As the first week of the election campaign draws to a close, the commentators are unanimous that it hasn’t been a good week for the ALP’s campaign. Beazley is said to have been let down by his front bench, namely Evans and Ferguson, and to have been distracted by the allegations of involvement of ALP staff and campaign workers in the hacking of the Liberal Party’s web site. It is said that Beazley has failed to capitalise on the latent hostility to a GST.

Meanwhile, One Nation released its 2% flat tax and transaction tax “policy” yesterday, amidst much ridicule from all the other political parties, business groups and the media.

In a more serious setback for the ALP’s campaign, ACOSS (Australian Council of Social Service) attacked the ALP’s tax policy as “fair enough, but not good enough”. In an election where the support of lobby groups and the preferences they may be able to deliver will be crucial to the outcome, this was not a good development for Kim Beazley.

With opinion polls showing the ALP polling extremely well in Victoria, perhaps this election may turn out to be like 1980 when the Fraser government was re-elected, lost a substantial number of seats, but survived because the swing in Victoria wasn’t replicated in the other states.

Day 7

Kim Beazley yesterday began to concentrate on attacking the GST, whilst John Howard attacked the ALP’s tax policy. It was the end of the first week of the campaign, a week in which the tactics for the rest of the campaign began to take shape. The Prime Minister has spent much of his time in radio and television studios, whilst the Opposition Leader has been out and about visiting factories, child-care centres and the like. As Barry Cassidy argued last night on the 7.30 Report, there has been no dominating message emerging from either side in this first week. This will begin to change in the coming days, especially when the paid television commercials begin in earnest. The ALP’s ads are reported to begin airing tomorrow night.

In his own electorate of Brand, a Nielson poll has Beazley polling 53% of the primary vote, despite a strong challenge from One Nation. In Tasmania, Brian Harradine has now confirmed that he will be running for the Senate again, despite an earlier announcement of his retirement.

A good analysis of the first week of the campaign appears in today’s issue of the Sydney Morning Herald: So far, so good. An article by Craig McGregor argues that One Nation has turned the Australian political equation on its head and created an election in which Labor and the coalition will campaign along class lines. McGregor attacks the ALP for having deserted its traditional base during its 13 years in office, a working class base that has suffered most from economic restructuring, globalisation and downsizing, and is now joining with disillusioned coalition supporters and transferring its support to Hanson.

In The National Interest: Foreign Policy White Paper

This is the Howard government’s foreign policy White Paper, “In the National Interest”.

The document was released by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, and the Minister for Trade, Tim Fischer. [Read more…]

Paul Keating Announces March 2, 1996 Federal Election

At a press conference on Sunday, January 27, Prime Minister Paul Keating announced that the 1996 Federal Election would be held on March 2.

The election was held at the scheduled time for the House of Representatives and half of the Senate. It brought to an end 13 years of Labor government under Bob Hawke (1983-91) and Paul Keating (1991-96) and was the first of four consecutive victories by John Howard and the Liberal-National coalition.

Keating said: “This will be an Election about leadership. We seek a further mandate for the Government that has given Australia an increasingly creative role in the world; that has created an outward looking, diverse, competitive and successful trading economy; and provided strong economic growth and record growth in employment. It will be an Election about both domestic and foreign policies, because the two cannot be separated.”

In his announcement, Keating challenged the coalition to take part in a series of election debates between the four most senior members of each side. This did not take place. One debate between Keating and Howard took place on February 11.

Text of statement by Prime Minister Paul Keating.



Today I called upon the Governor-General and recommended that the House of Representatives be dissolved, with a view to holding an Election for the House and half the Senate on March 2, and he has accepted my recommendation. [Read more…]

Alexander Downer And Peter Costello Win Liberal Party Leadership

Alexander Downer won the leadership of the Liberal Party after challenging John Hewson at a partyroom meeting on May 23, 1994.

Downer defeated Hewson by 43 votes to 36. Peter Costello was elected unopposed as deputy leader, replacing Michael Wooldridge.

Hewson had been leader of the Liberal Party since April 1990. He succeeded Andrew Peacock, following the party’s defeat in that year’s federal election. Hewson led the Liberal Party to defeat in the 1993 election. He survived in office for another year before he succumbed to leadership speculation and called a leadership ballot. [Read more…]