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The Extent To Which Leadership Effected The 2001 Federal Election Outcome

1885 words - 8 pages

The Extent to Which Leadership Effected the 2001 Federal Election Outcome

The outcome of the 2001 federal election was determined by a number of
important contributing factors, of which leadership was important. An
essential feature of a liberal democracy, outlined in its most basic
definition, is the process of elections. Elections exist to ensure the
government reflects the wishes of the majority of its citizens,
following the principle of utilitarianism, whereby the greatest
happiness of the greatest number of people equals the greatest social
good. However, when citizens consider the candidate they are to vote
for, leadership plays an important role. Leadership is an important
issue, amongst many others in determining the outcome of an election,
and the extent to which it effected the 2001 federal election will be
the basis of this essay.

Early on in the year, a Labor victory seemed inevitable. The Liberal
party was in a state of disarray, and public opinion held them in bad
status. The general psyche was that it was a time for a new
government. Kim Beazley, leader of the ALP (Australian Labor Party)
had changed public opinion of him from being a somewhat undecisive
leader and in many people's eyes was the only possible candidate to
take the role of the Prime Minister. Beazley avoided trouble and
presented a strong persona, whereas Mr. Howard "incurred the nation's
collective wrath over the goods and services tax, high petrol prices
and his Government's perceived arrogance.". The state elections in
Queensland and WA earlier that year resulted in landslide Labor
victories. Two teachers at Scotch college even went as far as to make
high risk bets as to the outcome of the election, although only one
actually payed up, as it were. Earlier in his term Mr. Howard had
introduced the Goods and Services Tax, which put tax on most retailed
items. Labor offered a GST rollback, a proposition which gained him
support. However, it was events somewhat out of Mr. Howard's control
that were to turn the tides of the election, and ultimately bring the
liberal party to a third term of power. The main issues were the Tampa
crisis and September 11.

In August 2001, asylum seekers from the Middle-East, who were
attempting to illegally enter Australia, were picked up by a Norwegian
freight ship, the MV Tampa. The ship wished to dock in an Australian
port in order to let the asylum seekers off, but the Prime Minister
took a strong stand, refusing to take them in. Instead, he negotiated
with an island in the Pacific, Nauru, to take the refugees to be
processed instead. This event turned public opinion right around, so
that when asked on the importance of immigration, there was a
substantial increase in interest. People now saw Australian border
protection as an important issue, and Mr. Howard's...

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