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May 29, 2008

\’Big Brother Australia\’ evictee recounts youth in controversial religious group

Thursday, May 29, 2008

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David Tchappat, a popular housemate recently evicted from the television reality program Big Brother Australia, has spoken out critically of his childhood experiences in the controversial religious group “Raven-Taylor-Hales Brethren“, referred to in Australian media as “Exclusive Brethren”. Tchappat was a participant in the edition Big Brother Australia 2008, and was voted off the show on May 25.

Tchappat, 33, a former police officer and presently a firefighter, left the controversial group at age 19. He says he attempted to leave at age 17 but was brought back by members of the group and “interrogated” by group leadership for months. Up until he left he had never eaten in a restaurant, listened to the radio or been to the movie theater. According to Macquarie National News, Tchappat’s former community numbers number approximately 15,000 in Australia. Raven-Taylor-Hales Brethren is a sect of Protestant Christianity and a breakaway group from Exclusive Brethren.

Due to his departure from the group, Tchappat had to break off contact with family members still inside the organization, though at times he speaks with his parents. Members do not vote in elections because they feel it contradicts their belief that God should determine who is in power, but they provide finances to the Liberal Party of Australia. Tchappat’s cousin Andrew left the group a few months after he did.

'Big Brother Australia' evictee recounts youth in controversial religious group
Look, I don’t like to say it’s a cult, but it basically is. My whole life was controlled.
'Big Brother Australia' evictee recounts youth in controversial religious group

—David Tchappat

After getting to know his fellow Big Brother Australia housemates for three weeks, Tchappat recounted some of his experiences in his former religious group. “Look, I don’t like to say it’s a cult, but it basically is. My whole life was controlled. I didn’t have a say in it myself,” he said on one episode. He grew up in the Raven-Taylor-Hales Brethren community in Gosford, New South Wales, and explained: “It’s based on Christian values but it’s very strict. So I had no TV, no radio, no computer, never been to a movie or a restaurant or kissed a girl – you name it, I didn’t do it.”

In an interview Tuesday with former Big Brother Australia runner-up Tim Brunero on Macquarie National News, Tchappat said he is planning on releasing a book about his experiences growing up in the controversial religious group. “I’ve spent the last two years writing it. It just happened that I got into Big Brother in the tail-end of it. Obviously there’s a few more chapters to add, but I’m really pumped, it’s an interesting story,” he said. He plans to title the book Losing my Religion.

He was also interviewed by ninemsn on Tuesday, and said he does not regret discussing his experiences in Raven-Taylor-Hales Brethren on Australian national television. “I’m an example of how you can go out and be successful. I say to people that if you are thinking about leaving, and you’re serious, take a punt and give it a go. You can always go back if you don’t like it.” Former members of the group were inspired by Tchappat’s comments and empathized with his experiences in posts to Big Brother Internet message boards.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd Image: David Jackmanson.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
Image: David Jackmanson.

'Big Brother Australia' evictee recounts youth in controversial religious group
I believe this is an extremist cult and sect. I also believe that it breaks up families.
'Big Brother Australia' evictee recounts youth in controversial religious group

Kevin Rudd

Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd criticized the Raven-Taylor-Hales Brethren group in August 2007. At the time he was leader of the Australian Labor Party, and requested that then-Prime Minister John Howard reveal what took place in a private meeting with senior members of the religious group. “I believe this is an extremist cult and sect. I also believe that it breaks up families,” said Rudd to reporters in Adelaide according to The Sydney Morning Herald. He noted that the organization was being investigated by the Australian Federal Police for prior election activities, and wanted to know how much funding had been given by the group to the Liberal Party.

During his election campaign Rudd called on Australian federal agencies including the anti-money laundering agency Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Taxation Office, and the Australian Electoral Commission to investigate the activities of Raven-Taylor-Hales Brethren. In spite of Rudd’s criticism of Raven-Taylor-Hales Brethren, the religious group was guaranteed AUD10 million in taxpayer funding for its school facilities in January 2008. Rudd had promised during his election campaign to maintain education funding levels for non-government schools if he became Prime Minister.

Australia media reported on May 18 that Rudd rejected a request from former members of Raven-Taylor-Hales Brethren to investigate the group. 34 ex-members of the religious group had sent a letter to the Prime Minister’s office asking him to investigate how they were treated in the the organization. A spokesman for Rudd said that the ex-members should instead take their request to the police, and that a government investigation would raise religious freedom issues. Rudd’s chief of staff David Epstein said that the Prime Minister “does not resile from the views he expressed last year” and “remains concerned about the reported imposition of doctrines that weaken family bonds”.

Australian Greens spokeswoman Christine Milne told Australia’s ABC News said that the well-being of children still in the group should be of primary concern. “The issue here is not about religious freedom, it is about what this cult is doing to destroy families and effectively to undermine the law,” said Milne.

Ex-member Peter Flinn, who wrote the letter sent to Rudd which was signed by 33 other former members, was disappointed by the Prime Minister’s response. “We just want to highlight other equally fundamental human rights, such as access to family who remain Brethren members, a right callously denied for decades,” he said in a statement in The Sydney Morning Herald. Senator Bob Brown of the Australian Greens party has proposed a government inquiry into the group’s public funding, tax concessions and possible practices that harm children.


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Learn more about Raven-Taylor-Hales Brethren and Exclusive Brethren on Wikipedia.
This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

February 22, 2008

Robert Gates hopes to continue US troop cuts in Iraq

Robert Gates hopes to continue US troop cuts in Iraq

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Robert Gates

Speaking aboard a military aircraft, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that he intends to continue US troop reduction in Iraq over the next 10 months, although he and other commanders are leaning to a July pause in cuts.

Secretary Gates was en route to attend the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations in Canberra, Australia. The meetings, also known as AUSMIN, have been held annually since 1985.

Australia has recently announced plans to withdraw troops from Iraq, but Gates indicated that this would not be a source of friction between the two allies.

“We’re concerned about the stress on our own forces. The Australians are confronting that challenge themselves,” he told reporters aboard the plane.

Gates said a brief pause “is probably necessary in order to be able to assess the pacing of any subsequent drawdowns.”

Although he did not say how long a pause would be, his comments suggested that reductions could begin again before the end of the year.

Joel Fitzgibbon

“I don’t think there’s a need to be doing any trust-building at the AUSMIN meeting tomorrow,” said Australian Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon on Friday. “The relationship remains very, very strong,” he said. “The level of trust has never been higher and I look forward to working forward together with our American friends.”

Willam Fallon

“As the winter accelerates into the springtime and the summer, that’s going to increase in pace, and we’re hopeful that we can continue that in a measured way that enables us to turn over the bulk of the responsibility to the Iraqis, but at the same time we don’t let this thing fall back down the hole again,” Admiral William Fallon said. Fallon, the commander of United States Central Command, was speaking today in Ottawa, Canada at a defense conference. He made no mention of a pause.

Another topic at AUSMIN will be the military effort in Afghanistan, but Gates says he is not worried that Australia, now headed by Prime Minster Kevin Rudd, will reduce troop levels there.

“I’ve had two meetings with their defense minister at this point, and I don’t have any sense of a change in direction in Afghanistan,” Gates said.

Australia is expected, according to US defense officials, to request a greater role in decision-making process. The International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan is led by NATO, of which Australia is not a member.



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February 13, 2008

Australian Parliament apologises to the Stolen Generations

Australian Parliament apologises to the Stolen Generations

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

People queuing at Parliament for the Apology

Crowds gather at the Redfern Community Centre in Sydney to watch the live telecast

A motion has been passed in the Parliament of Australia to make a formal apology to the Stolen Generations. Thousands of people converged on Canberra, the capital city, to witness the event. Many Indigenous people set up camp on the lawns outside Old Parliament House at the site of the Tent Embassy which has been on the site since Australia Day 1972.

The front doors of Parliament House opened at 7:30 a.m. with many people queuing from before 7 a.m. to gain a place inside. With the House of Representatives public gallery packed, about a thousand people watched a live telecast of the event on screens that had been set up for the event in the Great Hall. A special area was set up at the front of the Hall for members of the Stolen Generation. Thousands of others watched outside Parliament House, gathering on the lawns of Federation Square. Some members of the crowds wore t-shirts with the word “Thanks” on the front. Many more people watched at venues across the country.

Crowd building in the Great Hall.

All living past Prime Ministers, with the exception of John Howard, were in the chamber to witness the apology.

The Prime Minister’s speech was received warmly by the crowds and received a long standing ovation at its conclusion. During the Opposition Leader’s speech, a majority of the audience in the Great Hall and Federation Square turned their backs.

There are more images in the .

The Apology

Camp outside Old Parliament House

The motion was presented to the house as the first item of business at 9 a.m. on the second day of the new Parliament. It was read by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, and said (in part):

Cquote1.svg For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry,

To the mothers and fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry. And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country.

Cquote2.svg

After the formal apology, Rudd gave a speech in which he referred to specific members of the Stolen Generation, and also addressed some common arguments against the apology.

He told the story of Nanna Nungala Fejo, an Aboriginal woman born in the late 1920’s. “She remembers her earliest childhood days living with her family and her community in a bush camp just outside Tennant Creek. She remembers the love and the warmth and the kinship of those days long ago, including traditional dancing around the camp fire at night. She loved the dancing,” Mr Rudd said. “But then, sometime around 1932, when she was about four, she remembers the coming of the welfare men …. What they had not expected was that the white welfare men did not come alone. They brought a truck, two white men and an Aboriginal stockman on horseback cracking his stockwhip. The kids were found; they ran for their mothers, screaming, but they could not get away … Tears flowing, her mum tried clinging to the sides of the truck as her children were taken away to the Bungalow in Alice, all in the name of protection.”

Mr Rudd criticised the former government for refusing to apologise. “These stories cry out to be heard; they cry out for an apology. Instead, from the nation’s parliament there has been a stony, stubborn and deafening silence for more than a decade,” he said.

Responses

Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson spoke in Parliament after Kevin Rudd. He reiterated the apology made by Rudd. “We formally offer an apology to those Aboriginal people forcibly removed from their families through the first seven decades of the twentieth century,” he said.

Nelson had a different take on the issue of inter-generational responsibility. “Our generation does not own these actions, nor should it feel guilt for what was done in many, but not all cases, with the best of intentions,” he said. “But in saying we are sorry – and deeply so – we remind ourselves that each generation lives in ignorance of the long term consequences of its decisions and actions. Even when motivated by inherent humanity and decency to reach out to the dispossessed in extreme adversity, our actions can have unintended outcomes.”

Nelson spoke against compensation to children forcibly removed from their parents. “There is no compensation fund, nor should there be. How can any sum of money replace a life deprived of knowing your family?”

In the Great Hall the crowd grew uncomfortable during the Opposition Leader’s speech and the majority of the audience stood and turned their backs to the screens on which he was being broadcast. As the speech progressed a slow clapping began which drowned out Dr. Nelson’s speech.

The crowds in Federation Square, the gardens outside Parliament House, also turned their back on the Opposition Leader.

One of the first to stand and turn his back in the Great Hall was Chris Osborne, representing the State Executive of the United Services Union of N.S.W. Mr. Osborne told a Wikinews reporter that his son had Aboriginal heritage and his sister-in-law was a member of the Stolen Generations. Regarding Dr Nelson’s speech he said that the Opposition Leader “had not learnt and understood the fundamental issues” and said that he had presented a “begrudging apology”.

A member of the Stolen Generations interviewed by Wikinews said that she had personally resolved the issues in her life and had made a success of it, but was pleased that the Nation had made the apology. She said that she did not turn her back on the Opposition Leader as she believed that it was better to listen to what people said and then take from it what was useful. Another Indigenous person said that he felt that people would leave the event with a spirit of hope and optimism. Of Dr. Nelson’s speech he said that the Opposition Leader: “…had us for a nano-second and then he lost us. He lost the spirit.”

Live telecast

The audience at Redfern Community Centre in Sydney applaud at the conclusion of Kevin Rudd’s speech

Thousands of people gathered throughout the country to watch a telecast of the apology.

In Sydney, 1,000 people gathered the Redfern Community Centre in Redfern, an inner city suburb that is a focal point for Sydney’s aboriginal community. The event was organised by the City of Sydney and number of Indigenous organisations.

An aboriginal smoking ceremony was performed before the telecast, and attendees were welcomed to the land by a member of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council.

As the live telecast began it started to rain. This didn’t deter the participants, who sheltered under ponchos and umbrellas. Rudd’s apology was met by cheers and applause. The crowd booed at the mention of former Prime Minister John Howard.

The sound of the live telecast was turned down after Rudd’s speech, so that the Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney, Clover Moore could speak. She acknowledged the traditional owners of the land and declared her support for the apology, but also said that it was a first step only and that there was much work to be done on the way to reconciliation. “For the first time, we have acknowledged the history of this country, and the privilege to live in this country,” she said. “But we have to ask ourselves: what’s the cost of that privilege? Who paid the price?”

“In our hearts we know the costs, whether in child-abuse, in petrol sniffing in remote communities, and drugs, and alcohol in the city districts.”

Related news

  • “Australian parliament to apologise to Stolen Generations” — Wikinews, February 11, 2008

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January 26, 2008

Australia to withdraw troops from Iraq this year

Australia to withdraw troops from Iraq this year

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Stephen Smith, Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Australia will press on with plans to withdraw its troops from Iraq in June this year, although promises were made by the nation’s foreign minister that relations with the United States will not be affected by the move.

Foreign minister Stephen Smith said that the withdrawal will be conducted in an orderly fashion to minimise inconvenience to other nations in Iraq. Speaking in New York as part of his first US visit since the election he said “We want to do that in a way which sees minimal disruption, which causes the least inconvenience to our allies there, both the United States and the United Kingdom.”

Australia currently has 550 troops in the country.

On Monday Smith will meet with Condoleezza Rice and others to discuss Afghanistan, where Australia also has troops stationed. It is currently the intention for this to remain the case.

Smith said of the effect on relations with the US – which have been strong since World War II – “It’s not something which I believe will disturb what to date has been a very good working relationship between the new government and the (U.S.) administration. It’s a very strong alliance – an alliance which transcends changes in governments. Administrations come and go, governments come and go, but the alliance is a long-term, enduring fundamental relationship between our two nations.”

The confirmation is important as Australia saw a new government elected in November. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (Labour) defeated Conservative head and former PM John Howard. Howard is a supporter of US President George W. Bush and his government.



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December 3, 2007

Bali climate change conference begins

Bali climate change conference begins – Wikinews, the free news source

Bali climate change conference begins

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Monday, December 3, 2007

The Conference entrance
Image: OpenDemocracy.

Representatives of more than 180 nations gathered on the Indonesian island of Bali today to kick off a United Nations-sponsored conference on global climate change. The U.N. hopes the meeting will conclude with a road map toward a new agreement on reducing the types of air pollution many scientists believe are driving changes in the earth’s climate.

The Bali meeting aims to get countries to commit to working out a new agreement on emissions cuts to extend or replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. Conference president Rachmat Witoelar of Indonesia told reporters that a detailed proposal is not necessary at this stage, but participation by all nations is vital.

“We will be happy if this Bali road map is general so we will not push for a very detailed in this short time,” he said. “The introduction, the process is important.”

As the conference opened, Australia’s new prime minister, Kevin Rudd, signed the Kyoto Protocol, limiting his country’s greenhouse gas emissions. That act earned a standing ovation in Bali, and focused attention on the failure of the United States to sign the protocol – the only developed nation not to have done so.

“While the current U.S. delegation will not join in serious negotiations over mandatory limits on global warming pollution, they won’t be around when the final deal is made in 2009. A new team will be on the field with a very different game plan,” he said. “The other nations must not allow the U.S. to derail, delay or water down the Bali mandate.”

Inside the conference centre
Image: IISD/ ENB-Leila Mead.

Senior U.S. negotiator Harlan Watson denied his country was blocking progress, saying the U.S. had merely chosen a different course.

“It’s up to each country to do the analysis and analyze for themselves if the target is do-able. Obviously the U.S. came to a different conclusion,” he said. “We respect the decisions other countries have made and of course ask them to respect the decision that we’ve made.”

President Bush says that the Kyoto Protocol threatened U.S. economic growth, and believes that any future climate-change agreement will be ineffective unless it includes rapidly developing nations such as China and India, which are among the world’s largest producers of greenhouse gases.

Other subjects on the agenda in Bali include saving the world’s remaining forests, and sharing technologies to help developing nations grow in less-polluting ways. The U.N. also hopes to finalize a fund to help countries affected by global warming to cope with the impacts. The money could go toward flood-proof houses, better water management, and crop diversification.

The Bali conference will continue until December 14. Thousands of government representatives, scientists and activists are attending.




This article is based on Climate Change Conference Opens in Bali by VOA News which has a copyright policy compatible with our CC-BY 2.5. Specifically “Copyright status of work by the U.S. government

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2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference
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November 4, 2007

Australia Votes 2007: Labor plan for home buyers

Australia Votes 2007: Labor plan for home buyers

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Sunday, November 4, 2007

Kevin Rudd, Australia’s Leader of the Opposition has promised a special home buyers’ bank account with tax concessions if Labor is elected on November 24.

Mr Rudd says AU$64,000 could be saved by a couple on the average wage over five years. The plan would cost the Government $600 million dollars.

The Housing Industry Association has welcomed the announcement but says it would be a start and would “avoid a stampede of first home buyers into the market.”

Prime Minister John Howard is bracing himself for a possible Wednesday interest rate rise which may decide the election. Howard has defended the rumours, saying that some rise would be ‘unavoidable’.

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February 12, 2007

Australian Prime Minister targets Obama on Iraq

Australian Prime Minister targets Obama on Iraq

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Australian PM, John Howard

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has attacked US presidential candidate Barack Obama on his pledge to introduce a bill that would withdraw American troops from Iraq by March 2008.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Howard said the move would hand victory to insurgents in Iraq. “I think that would just encourage those who wanted completely to destabilise and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for (an) Obama victory,” Mr Howard said.

Cquote1.svg If I was running al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008, and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats. Cquote2.svg

—John Howard, Australia Prime Minister

“If I was running al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008, and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats.”

Mr Obama dismissed Howard’s comments as “empty rhetoric”, unless he was to send another 20,000 Australians to fight in Iraq. “So, if he’s (inaudible) if to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and sends them to Iraq. I would also note that we have close to 140,000 troops on the ground now, and my understanding is that Mr Howard has deployed 1,400”, said Mr Obama.

The Australian government said its contribution to the war in Iraq was appropriate given Australia’s population and military size and that Obama’s response failed to address the “substance of the issue”. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said 20,000 troops would be “half of our army”.

Mr Howard, considered a close ally of the United States government, has faced attacks and support from US politicians.

US Presidential contender, Barack Obama

Democrat Terry McAuliffe said “Firstly, the Prime Minister has been a great friend of George Bush’s. He has been with him lock-step from day one on this war in Iraq.”

Republican presidential candidate Duncan Hunter said Howard had earned a right to comment about Obama’s policy “I think the Aussies have earned a right to comment on the world stage about their partner in this endeavour, because they’ve been fighting side-by-side with us in Iraq,” said Hunter.

“And so I think that John Howard, while it wasn’t a very complimentary statement, he is basically stating the truth and that is that what we say on the Senate floor on or the House floor goes to a world audience.”

“And it has an impact on not only our allies, but also our adversaries.”

Roy Ryden, another US Democrat said Mr Howard’s comment was “bizarre” and accused the Prime minister of interfering with US politics “The most charitable thing you can say about Mr Howard’s comment is bizarre. You know, we’ll make our own judgements in this country with respect to elections and Barack Obama is a terrific public servant.”

Mr Howard has drawn criticism from some conservative Republicans with John Cornyn saying Howard should stay out of US domestic politics.

The Australian Prime Minster further defended his statement today, claiming Obama’s plan threatened Australia’s national security.

“If the United States were to withdraw her combat units from Iraq by the early part of next year it could only be represented as a defeat for the United States in Iraq,” he said.

“I hold the strongest possible view that it is contrary to the security interests of this country for America to be defeated in Iraq.”

Australia’s strong links to the United States and its support for the U.S.-led war on Iraq were key issues for Howard’s fourth straight election win in late 2004. The Australian opposition has used the comments as an opportunity to attack the government. Opposition leader Kevin Rudd said Howard needed to avoid taking sides in American politics as it was important for the Australia-U.S. alliance that leaders could deal with each other despite their political affiliations.

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December 12, 2006

Australian Labor Party leader urges supporters to \”take a cold shower\” over poll results

Australian Labor Party leader urges supporters to “take a cold shower” over poll results

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The newly appointed leader of the Australian Labor Party, the main opposition party in Australia, Kevin Rudd has urged his supporters to “take a cold shower” after the release of a Newspoll showing a jump in support for the ALP.

The poll showed that the ALP’s two-party preferred vote has risen to 55 percent compared to the incumbent government’s 45 percent. Mr Rudd is also gaining support as potential Prime Minister with his figures in a “preferred prime minister” poll published by The Australian being only 3 points behind John Howard at 36 percent. In the prior Newspoll, Mr Rudd’s predecessor Kim Beazley had only 25 percent support.

Speaking during his “listening” tour in the Queensland city of Townsville, Mr Rudd said that the poll indicated a protest vote against the Howard government and was not an endorsement for him or the ALP.

“I think what you’re seeing in these polls today is really a protest vote against Mr Howard about becoming more and more out of touch,” Mr Rudd said. “I don’t think at this stage the process represents an entrenched vote for me, or for the Labor Party.”.

Mr Rudd conceded that he would need to “work hard over the next nine months to earn the electorate’s respect”. The next election is expected to be held in late-2007 and will be called by the Governor-General at the request of the Prime Minister.

Mr Howard said he expected for the ALP to lead polls for months as the new leader goes through a “honeymoon period”. Speaking on Southern Cross Radio, Mr Howard said “I knew that Labor would get a bounce in the polls. That was going to happen and it doesn’t surprise me in the least bit. When you have a new leader, the new leader has a honeymoon. I would expect Labor to be comfortably ahead in the polls for several months and it won’t be until well into next year that we’ll get a better fix on how the Government and the Opposition are going.”

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December 4, 2006

Rudd replaces Beazley as Australian opposition leader

Rudd replaces Beazley as Australian opposition leader

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Monday, December 4, 2006

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Kevin Rudd is new leader of the Australian opposition party

Kevin Rudd has been elected as leader of the Labor party by the party’s caucus. His running-mate Julia Gillard was elected unopposed to the deputy leadership.

The vote was called on Friday after Kevin Rudd challenged former leader Kim Beazley for the leadership. Rudd won the leadership by a vote of 49-39.

Rudd becomes the party’s third leader since the 2004 election, where the Howard government won a fourth consecutive term in government.

Long-serving deputy leader Jenny Macklin did not contest the deputy leadership following the defeat of Mr Beazley. Mrs Macklin has been deputy leader under three leaders since 2001.

The party will elect its shadow ministry in a separate ballot on Thursday.

Premier of Queensland Peter Beattie has said that the leadership change “will herald in a new period of stability for the party.”

“It’s important that if you have good policy and good government, it’s important you also have stability in leadership,” said Beattie. “I’d urge everyone to get behind Kevin – having a Queenslander as the alternative prime minister is good for the state and good for Australia.”

Labor MP Dick Adams said even though he voted for Beazley to remain as leader, he supports the party’s new leadership. “There’ll be a lot more harmony and a lot more opportunity of ideas,” he said. “I think the new ideas need to flow and I think if it’s opened up, as some people have said, they want those ideas to come forward, but I think we’ll have some interesting policy direction to take to the people.”

Sharan Burrow, the president of the ACTU – the peak union body in Australia said Mr Rudd will be a strong leader. “I have no doubt that Kevin Rudd will say that these laws have to go, that they will be replaced by a policy that reinstates rights,” Ms Burrow has told Sky News.

Government MP, Christopher Pyne said that the new leadership was a poor choice for the party. “The combination of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard will have all the hallmarks of the mongoose and the cobra. It shows Labor is obsessed about leadership rather than policy and strategy,” Mr Pyne said.

In a poll released by Newspoll today, a Rudd-Gillard leadership team had 48 percent support of the public, compared to the outgoing Beazley-Macklin team’s 27 percent.

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February 8, 2006

Opposition attacks government over involvement in wheat kickbacks as Australian Parliament resumes sitting

Opposition attacks government over involvement in wheat kickbacks as Australian Parliament resumes sitting

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Wednesday, February 8, 2006

The Australian Parliament resumed sitting February 7, 2006, with the Australian Labor Party Federal Opposition attacking the Government during Question Time over its involvement and knowledge of illegal kickbacks being paid by AWB Limited to Saddam Hussein.

Opposition leader, Kim Beazley, and Shadow Foreign Affairs minister Kevin Rudd asked all of the Opposition’s questions during Question Time and focused solely on the Oil-for-Food program.

One item of interest during the session was a statement to the Parliament on March 25, 2003, where the Prime Minister John Howard had said “…the oil for food program has been immorally and shamefully rorted by Saddam Hussein”; questions arose when the Prime Minister first knew of the rorts taking place and what action he took into investigating AWB. The Prime Minister has stated that he “[denies] that the government turned a blind eye” to warnings that he has received and at the time “it was common between the government and the opposition that the AWB was an organisation of total integrity and repute.”

Beazley later moved a censure motion against the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer for their “failure” to investigate warnings and their “gross negligence in allowing AWB to provide AU$300 million to the Saddam Regime”. The motion failed along party lines.

Sources

Wikinews
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  • Australian House of Representatives Hansard (pdf), February 7, 2006.
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