Keating defies odds to win Labor fifth term

PAUL KEATING, the Australian Prime Minister, last night made history by winning a remarkable victory in the general election and returning the ruling Labor Party for an unprecedented fifth term.

The result was a decisive rejection of the opposition conservative Liberal-National coalition and its leader, John Hewson, who had promised radical economic change, including a controversial pledge to introduce a VAT-type tax on consumption.

Although the election was fought almost entirely on economic issues, the result also endorsed Mr Keating's campaign commitment for a referendum in which Australians will be able to choose whether to become a republic by the end of the decade.

Mr Keating is likely to be forced by the realities of power to curtail or postone some of the big-spending promises he made during the gruelling five-week campaign. But he is firmly committed to sticking by his pledge to launch the constitutional process of working towards a Federal Republic of Australia, which would involve replacing the Queen with an Australian head of state.

Mr Keating claimed victory shortly before midnight, in front of cheering supporters at the sports club in Bankstown, the working-class Sydney suburb where he was born 49 years ago and where he returned to launch his campaign.

He told them: 'This is the sweetest victory of all. This is a victory of the true believers, the people who, in difficult times, have kept the faith.'

He made no reference to the republic question, but reiterated his call for Australians to reshape their identity as a nation of the Asia-Pacific region, and to become a leading trading partner with Asia during the Nineties.

By the close of counting last night, Labor had won 69 seats, the opposition 56 and independents two in the 147-seat House of Representatives, with 20 seats still to be decided. Labor won a swing of 1.4 per cent of the vote, on the basis of which a computer prediction by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation suggested it might end up with a final majority of 11 seats, five more than in the old parliament. Mr Keating's victory confounded the opinion polls and pundits who had forecast a substantial opposition win. Nine of Australia's 10 leading metropolitan newspapers on Friday had called for a change of government.

He also survived a national mood of dismay over the impact of the worst recession in 60 years, which has left more than a million Australians, or 11 per cent of the workforce, without jobs.

It was Mr Keating's first election in his own right as Prime Minister, since he deposed Bob Hawke as Labor leader 15 months ago. Beaming, waving and blowing kisses to supporters, he said last night: 'I wanted to win again to be there in the Nineties to see Australia prosper, as it will.'

Mr Hewson, 46, also fighting his first election as opposition leader, appeared grim-faced with his wife at a Sydney hotel to concede defeat before Liberal Party campaign workers.

The result is a devastating blow to the Liberals, who have now lost five successive elections with three leaders since 1983. The party which ruled Australia for 23 unbroken years in the Fifties and Sixties is faced with a bitter round of soul-searching and recrimination over its future role in Australian politics.

Mr Hewson's biggest mistake appears to have been his promised 15 per cent goods and services tax, which many voters feared and distrusted.

(Photograph omitted)

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam