Race row erupts as Keating struggles to close gap
Wednesday 28 February 1996
The Australian general election battle shifted to the volatile state of Queensland yesterday, as fresh opinion polls showed the Labor Party struggling to reverse a potentially winning lead for the opposition Liberal-National coalition on Saturday.
Paul Keating, the Prime Minister, and John Howard, the opposition leader, found themselves campaigning in different parts of Brisbane yesterday as an opinion poll published in the Australian newspaper put the opposition parties once again 8 points ahead, a lead they had enjoyed early in the campaign before stumbling last week. A Sydney Morning Herald poll on Monday showed the opposition leading by 6 points.
Such a figure, if reflected in the actual voting on Saturday, would be enough to bring a resounding end to Labor's 13-year rule in Canberra. It is larger than the lead the opposition took into the final week of campaigning at the last election in 1993, before Mr Keating made a last- minute surge to score a shock victory.
His task of building enough momentum for a repeat performance this time is immense. But it is not impossible. In no other election has polling been more exhaustive. And, while the polls reflect widespread dissatisfaction among Australians at the thought of giving yet another term to a government which many feel has run its course, they are also sending out confusing signals. A third poll published today in the Bulletin, a national news magazine, shows the coalition's lead reduced to just 2 points.
In all the latest polls, a clear majority thought that Labor would actually win the election. Mr Keating also increased an earlier lead over Mr Howard on the question of who would make the best prime minister.
Mr Keating called on a cheering rally of party faithful in Brisbane yesterday to "claim it again for Labor", before heading to north Queensland - the conservative region known as the Deep North - where race has once again erupted as a campaign issue. To the embarrassment of the coalition, Bob Katter, the National Party candidate for the immense north Queensland constituency of Kennedy, complained on Monday that it was "nigh on impossible" to send children from his remote area to boarding schools "unless you're rich or unless you happen to be of Aboriginal descent".
His suggestion that Aborigines were a favoured race might have been written off at any other time as typical Deep North "redneckism". But it came barely a fortnight after an outcry over Mr Katter's earlier attack on what he described as the "slanty-eyed ideologues" of political correctness who, he said, "persecute ordinary, average Australians". Yesterday Mr Howard again declined to strip Mr Katter of his endorsement
Labor does not want to be reminded of its own difficulties on the race issue, involving Graeme Campbell, the maverick MP for the world's largest constituency, Kalgoorlie, which covers an area of Western Australia ten times the size of Britain. The party stripped Mr Campbell of endorsement last year after he appeared at meetings held by Australians Against Further Immigration, a group that advocates racially discriminatory immigration policies.
Campaigning by light aircraft and supported by his French wife, Michele, a Sorbonne graduate, the colourful Mr Campbell is fighting Kalgoorlie at this election as an independent and taking every opportunity to attack Mr Keating. The constituency, which he has held for 16 years, contains just 74,000 voters, most of them miners, farmers and Aborigines. But polls indicate that he enjoys enough popularity to snatch it from the official Labor candidate this time.
The frontier town of Kalgoorlie, Mr Campbell's base, is famous for its brothels as much as for its booming gold mines. Support for Mr Campbell came this week from Stella Strong, the proprietress of the Red House, a prominent establishment. She wrote to the Kalgoorlie Minercalling for a vote for Mr Campbell: "He has always treated my staff and me as equals."
- 1 Hair loss explained: How and why men go bald
- 2 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe the Stark may have a twin sister
- 3 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 4 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
- 5 Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
Most expensive city to live in for expatriates: Luanda, Angola takes number one spot with Hong Kong and Zurich in top three
If Surrey were Syria: Social experiment shows what it's like to live under siege
Video of Irish 'professional boxer' fighting Istanbul neighbourhood goes viral in Turkey
Irish tourist filmed fighting with shopkeepers in Turkey says they 'messed with the wrong man'
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal get peerages
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is the holding company of an expa...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Setup, configure, troubleshoot,...
£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...