Cliff-hanger as Australia goes to polls
Saturday 13 March 1993
One poll last night gave Paul Keating's government 44.5 per cent, against 45 per cent for the opposition, led by John Hewson. Another poll put Labor ahead of the opposition by two points, just enough to retain power in the House of Representatives, where it has a majority of five. The polls indicate about one-fifth of voters remain uncommitted.
There was no such indecision among Australia's main metropolitan newspapers yesterday. In their pre-vote editorials, nine of the 10 papers called for a change of government. Most agreed that, after a decade in power, and with unemployment at 11 per cent, Labor had run out of steam.
In an editorial which read like a political obituary, the Age, of Melbourne, said Mr Keating would be judged well by history for his dominant role in the restructuring of the Australian economy under Labor during the 1980s. 'The recession brought about a loss of nerve, an uncertainty about the direction in which Australia should be headed.'
The sole pro-Labor voice came from the Telegraph-Mirror, a Sydney tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch, all of whose other papers supported the opposition. The Sydney paper praised Mr Keating for showing 'vision and courage' since becoming Prime Minister after unseating Bob Hawke as Labor leader 15 months ago.
'The Prime Minister deserves the chance to demonstrate his leadership and implement his agenda without the shackles of the past.'
For Mr Keating, the main obstacle to achieving victory today is the figure of 1,052,000 unemployed in a country of 17 million people. This latest monthly figure, announced on Thursday, was a rise of 35,000 on the previous month, and the worst since the Depression.
Mr Keating's promise for a referendum by the end of the decade on Australia becoming a republic won approval. But Australians are likely to give it second place to their judgement on the country's economic future.
Unemployment has overwhelmed any electoral benefit Mr Keating might have gained from other economic indicators released during the campaign, including a rise in exports and business investment. Australia's economy has moved back into growth, for which Mr Keating can claim credit. Most Australians, though, remember him as the Treasurer (or finance minister) under Mr Hawke who brought what he once called 'the recession we had to have'.
For his part, Mr Hewson promises as his main economic reform a VAT-type goods and services tax (GST), which polls indicate many Australians find either confusing or unwelcoming. He has stayed silent on the republic question.
Both leaders returned yesterday to their constituencies in Sydney to await the result. Mr Hewson held a final press conference on the shores of Bondi Beach, in the heart of his electorate, where he spoke as if victory was already his. He promised not to renege on his policies when faced with the reality of power. 'We aren't going to go into government and change our minds and say things are worse than we feared.'
Mr Keating made a final impassioned plea to make the election a referendum on the GST: 'I don't believe Australians will vote for the GST any more than they will take the dog-eat- dog policies of the opposition that will turn Australian society on its head.'
- 2 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 3 School kitchen manager 'fired from Colorado school for giving hungry students free lunches'
- 5 Charles Kennedy 'had better judgement drunk than many sober politicians' says Ian Hislop
California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
Amber Peat: Body found in search for missing 13-year-old who left house after argument with her parents
School kitchen manager 'fired from Colorado school for giving hungry students free lunches'
Isis executes three gay men by dangling them from top of 100ft building and letting go
Alton Towers crash: Four guests seriously injured as Smiler ride carriages collide
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers
£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...
£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...