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)

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environmentGardeners rally round the endangered bumblebee
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
Arts & Entertainment
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
musicBest exclusives coming to an independent record shop near you this Record Store Day
News
Ida Beate Loken has been living at the foot of a mountain since May
newsNorwegian gives up home comforts for a cave
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit