Australian Prime Minister John Howard has conceded defeat in the national election as the Labour Party assumes control of Parliament. Perhaps America’s staunchest defender of the global war on terror among world leaders, Howard now gives way to Kevin Rudd, and may find himself out of government altogether. Howard may be the first PM to lose his own seat in almost 80 years:
Australian prime minister John Howard’s 11 year reign has ended with a landslide election victory for the opposition Labour Party.
Kevin Rudd, the former diplomat, was set to become Australia’s 26th prime minister, less than a year after rising to the top of an opposition party which has been in the political wilderness for more than a decade.
Mr Rudd accepted victory and addressed supporters in Brisbane after Mr Howard telephoned the Labour leader to concede defeat.
Mr Rudd vowed to write a new page in Australia’s history and “govern for all Australians”.
Americans owe a large debt of gratitude to John Howard. Faced with the Bali bombings and a short distance between his nation and the radicals in Indonesia, Howard adopted the same forward strategy against radical Islamists as the US. He spoke eloquently and often on the need to face down the terrorists and not to surrender to extortion and threats. Australians manned the barricades along with Americans. Brits, Poles, and troops from a multitude of nations, and remain on the job in Afghanistan.
What can we expect from Mr. Rudd? Apparently, more of the same on foreign affairs, albeit perhaps with less public enthusiasm. Rudd has worked as the shadow Foreign Minister since 2001. His campaign got criticized for its “me-tooism” when Rudd failed to differentiate himself much from Howard on a wide range of issues. He is seen as a determined policy wonk rather than the usual Australian style of gregarious politico, and the main differences will be style and domestic policy, where Labour can expect to push for a larger social-service establishment.
The important point to remember is that Australian-American friendship goes back much further than any one administration in either nation. It is a friendship of the peoples, not the leaders, and that relationship and our mutual interests in freedom and liberty will remain long past any one election. Just as our alliance with Britain did not rely on Tony Blair alone, our ties to Australia will continue with Kevin Rudd — and perhaps even grow stronger.
Still, we will miss John Howard. It’s impossible not to regret the retirement of a man who stood tall and firm against the murderous onslaught and told the world exactly what was at stake in the conflict. Thank you, Mr. Howard, and the best of luck to you in the future.
UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has more, including a stunt that probably cost Liberals the election or at least guaranteed its wide margin, and a YouTube of Rudd’s infamous earwax-eating incident. The geeks shall inherit the earth, it seems….