Public opinion polls indicate that the Australian general elections on Saturday (2 December) could produce a change of Government for the first time in 23 years.
Public opinion polls indicate that the Australian general elections on Saturday (2 December) could produce a change of Government for the first time in 23 years. Two recent polls place the Australian Labour Party eight per cent ahead of the Liberal-Country Party coalition. The Labour Party needs to capture four seats to win.
Mr. William McMahon, 64-year-old leader of the Liberal Party Has had a story 20 month term in office, marred by censure motions in Parliament and squabbling among party leadership. Mr. McMahon, a lawyer with a long and successful political career behind him, was elected leader of the Liberal Party in March 1971 in succession to Mr. John Gorton.
Some political observers believe that even if the coalition retains office, Mr. McMahon will count himself luck if he keeps his leadership for long.
The Liberal Party now has 46 seats in the 125 member House of Representatives, and the Country Party, led by Mr. Doug Anthony, Deputy Prime Minister has 20 seats. Since their combined majority over the Australian Labour Party with 59 seats, is only seven, a swing of only four seats would secure a change of Government.
The campaigning has largely turned into a contest between Mr. McMahon and the 56-year-old opposition leader, Mr. Gough Whitlam. Mr. Whitlam, a professional lawyer, is reported to have pulled off a coup by recruiting to Labour's side, Dr. Herbert Cole Coombes, a distinguished economist who was recently advisor to Prime Minister McMahon.
Mr. Whitlam has had no previous administrative experience and political observers report him to be "an arrogant, abrupt man who inspires respect but seldom affection." They also report that, even after five years as party leader, Mr. Whitlam still lacks the complete confidence of his fellow members.