Early counting in Australia’s election pointed to solid support for Kevin Rudd’s Labor opposition on Saturday, as an exit poll showed voters were ready for a change of government after 11 years of conservative rule.The Kevin07 campaign gave the following six reasons for Australians to vote Labor this year: "an education revolution, fixing our hospitals, decisive action on climate change, balance and fairness in the workplace, maintaining our national security, and a strong economy that delivers for working families."
Australian Broadcasting Corp predicts that Labor will take at least 78 seats in the 150-seat Parliament, earning a clear majority. Even Howard's Liberal party is ready to admit defeat:
Note: Despite the name, Australia's Liberal Party is more aligned with American conservatives. Australia's Labor Party stands for many of the same values as America's progressives.
But Howard's communications minister, Helen Coonan, said: "If this trend continues we have to accept the voters think that it's time for the prime minister to go."
If Howard loses his own seat he would be the first sitting Australian prime minister since 1929 to be dumped by voters.
Howard, 68, has trailed in opinion polls all year. A staunch U.S. ally committed to keeping Australian troops in Iraq, he offered voters A$34 billion (US$29 billion) in tax cuts, but few new policies.
Rudd has pledged to withdraw combat troops from Iraq and sign the Kyoto Protocol, further isolating Washington on both. The Mandarin-speaking former diplomat would also be expected to forge closer ties with China and other Asian nations.
Rudd, 50, has offered voters a generational change, saying Howard is too old and tired to lead Australia.