Australia: The Elections

On Saturday evening Australian re-elected a conservative coalition of Liberal and National parties for a third consecutive term in power. Mr. Howard's victory comes as no surprise, if we consider his unprecedented popularity after he took a tough stand against a wave of illegal immigrants entering the country in recent months. Issues of asylum seekers and security in the country became the two main subjects of the election campaign. It is reported that Mr. Howard's policies received a lot of support from blue collar workers and recent (legal) immigrants. Both groups are usually expected to vote Labor, but changed sides in this particular instances. The coalition is expected to have at least 78 seats in the new Parliament, against Labor's 65. Two smaller parties: Greens and Democrats did not win any seats in the lower house. One day before the elections - on Friday - Australian Navy ship HMAS Wollongong intercepted a boat carrying 160 illegal immigrants from the Middle East near the Ashmore Reef. When confronted, the 'boat people' destroyed their vessel by deliberately setting it on fire. Australian sailors rescued 160 survivors, but two women (one over 70 years old) lost their lives. Despite the fact that 'asylum seekers' were in fact rescued by Australian Navy, their behaviour would rather preclude any residence visas for that particular group.

Henry L. Marconi PRAVDA.Ru Sydney

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