• Short Summary

    More than seven million Australian voters will decide on Saturday (December 2) whether or not the Liberal-Country Party coalition Government continues its 23-year run of office.

  • Description

    GV Sydney Opera House & harbour (2 shots)

    GV PAN Demonstrators & poster of Big Ears

    SCU McMahon speaking

    CU Poster TILT Whitlam in chair

    CU's Montage singers & posters

    GV Supporters (Natural sound)

    SCU Whitlam speaking

    SV Gair walking

    SV Barton walking with woman

    McMAHON: "Ladies and gentlemen, and that applies to everyone here today, whether they're shouting or whether they're like the silent majority. We again believe that the silent majority will inevitably mean we will win three seats in West Australia in the next election."

    WHITLAM: "I come to another matter, a matter where you all are concerned in this area so far from Sydney, although so many of you men and women, have to go to work in Sydney, and so many of you, particularly students, have to go to study. And certainly, if you want to be teachers or enter the professions, or the higher qualifications in education, you've got to travel often 60 miles a day."

    Initials ESP/1249 ESP/1308

    This item, filmed by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, contains addresses by Mr. McMahon and Mr. Whitlam during their campaign.

    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: More than seven million Australian voters will decide on Saturday (December 2) whether or not the Liberal-Country Party coalition Government continues its 23-year run of office. For only the second time in two decades, the opposition Australian labour Party (ALP) is considered to have a reasonable chance of defeating the coalition.

    The Australian coalition's fortunes are generally reported at their lowest ebb since it had a narrow escape from defeat by the Labour Party in 1961. The Prime Minister, Mr. William McMahon, 64-year-old leader of the Liberal Party, has had a stormy 20-month term in office, marred by censure motions in Parliament and squabbling among the party leadership.

    The Liberal Party now has 46 seats in the 125-member House of Representatives, and the Country Party has twenty seats. Their combined majority over Mr. Gough Whitlam's 56 ALP seats is only seven. A swing of only four seats could secure a change of Government.

    Political observers report that a decisive role could therefore be played by two minority parties-the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) which split from the main Labour Party in 1955, and under Senator Vincent Gair, is supported by the Roman Catholic Community, and the Australia Party led by Mr. Gordon Barton, formed in 1969 to woo dissident Liberal voters.

    Neither has a seat in Parliament, but at the 1969 election, under Australia's preferential voting system, the two parties" second preference votes decided the allocation of more than 20 seats in favour of the Liberal and Country parties.

    The campaigning has largely turned into a contest between Mr. McMahon and the 56-year-old opposition leader, Mr. Whitlam.

    Mr. McMahon has been in parliament for 23 years and has held eight Ministerial portfolios. He has been regarded as one of the most industrious members of the government, but the effectiveness of his leadership has been questioned by his own party members.

    Mr. Whitlam has been in parliament 20 year,s nearly six of them as leader of the ALP. His campaign has been aided by strong advertising.

    Observers report that in this election, Mr. Whitlam faces his own moment of truth. Labour has already lost one federal election under him, and a second defeat would probably be his last.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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