economist editorial - oz election

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    The following is from an editorial in The Economist on 30 September 2004

    "Mark Latham has the virtues of youth. But the flip-side of youth is inexperience: Mr Latham has been party leader for only ten months, and in Parliament for ten years; and he has never held federal office. His tendency to make policy on the run exasperates his associates and delights his opponents. It was in just such an unguarded moment that he committed a future Labor government to bring Australia's troops home from Iraq.

    Mr Howard has been able to depict it as "cutting and running" - which is exactly what it is. By pulling out in the face of terror, the governments of Spain and the Philippines have already sent a terrible message to those who cut off the heads of their victims and post their atrocious videos on the internet. Mr Howard's determination to support the effort in post-war Iraq, even in its darkest moments, is one reason to think the better of him.

    The other is the economy, which has continued to defy all expectations. It is now in its 13th consecutive year of growth - and growth in excess of 3% a year at that.

    In the meantime Labor has made some disturbing noises about its own economic plans. In particular, Mr Latham has raised serious doubts about how he would handle Australia's unions. Labor has promised to restore centralised collective bargaining, scrapping the system of individual workplace agreements that were introduced by Mr Howard and have helped to raise productivity.

    This time round, the case for change is distinctly uncompelling."

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