From - Thu Sep 10 20:35:42 1998
Subject: recent international news of interest

[THE AGE] China confident election will finish Hanson Sep 3 China was today optimistic that the large number of candidates contesting the October 3 election in support of multiculturalism would sweep away Pauline Hanson-inspired racism

[REUTERS] POLL TREND FOR AUSTRALIA SEPTEMBER 3 CANBERRA, Sept 3 (Reuters) - The Australian government has regained a slight primary vote lead over the Labor opposition at the start of the campaign ahead of the October 3 election.

[THE STRAIGHTS TIMES] Time to choose SEP 4 1998 EDITORIAL AUSTRALIANS cannot stifle a "here we go again" groan, now that Prime Minister John Howard has asked them to choose a government eight months early. This has much to do with Australia's triennial election cycle. Depending on the state of the nation, it is either mercifully short for a stroppy electorate or is too restrictive for stable policies to take hold, such as a four- or five-year term might deliver. On balance, the policy differences between the ruling Liberal-National coalition and Labor are too minute to excite enthusiasm about making a real choice. Mr Howard has gambled on some sound indicators -- the first budget surplus in a decade and a dollar that has held up reasonably well -- to ask for a fresh mandate for his cautious type of economic management. The timing was key. Wait a half-year more, and the Asia effect might have turned a slowdown into a slump. Some 780,000 people are out of work, more than when he came to office in March 1996, and the foreign debt has climbed to A$222 billion (S$233.1 billion) from A$192 billion. There is every chance these numbers will get worse. That can make his assumed advantage of incumbency and the generous 48-seat majority rather deceiving. Polls show the coalition and Mr Kim Beazley's Labor Party to be neck and neck, with the swing impact of the right-wing One Nation Party and the moderate Democrats not clear yet at this early stage of the five-week campaign. Mr Howard is cast as a plodder, but neither has Mr Beazley turned the past two years to good use in crafting a clear-cut alternative to Mr Howard's surpassing dreariness. Yet, Australians would do well to look beyond the workaday issues being sold to them as some kind of an objective test -- competing tax packages with a goods and services tax as an innovation, labour reform, privatisation and care of the aged. These are issues that win or lose elections. But, mindful of the millennial change and the incomplete revolution sweeping across Asia, the antagonists have also enjoined their countrymen to think about the kind of society they want Australia to be well into the next few decades. One wished they had laid more stress on that as Australia is at a fork in the road -- culturally, economically and, most of all, in its identity. Core issues, as distinct from pedestrian concerns such as tax regimes and the cost of nursing homes for the elderly, will determine what sort of ally and neighbour Australia will be in a region it has continued to feel awkward about. Despite the efforts of the coalition to downplay race relations as an issue, the crude pandering to sentiment of Mrs Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party will ensure that it will come to the fore in the campaign. It is just as well. It will force Australia to look itself in the mirror. How the comfortable Caucasian majority takes care of the Aborigines and how it views non-white immigration will tell if national reconciliation can ever be achieved after the divisiveness wrought by squabbling over native land rights and Asian immigration. If Australians believe multi-ethnicity works against their interests, they should be honest about it. Then there is the question of its place in the region: is it schizophrenic about meshing with the Asian world? The core Western world has lost interest in the antipodes. Thus, the republicanism trend, as opposed to sticking to the monarchical status quo, will be another indicator. These issues, if they get the airing they deserve, will be far more revealing of the kind of Australia one can expect.

[THE TIMES] Sooner or later, it will be Prescott September 4 1998 OPINION Mary Ann Sieghart discovers our political future in Australia I have seen the future, and it is John Prescott. I have seen the past, and it is John Howard. After spending six weeks in Australia, I feel as if I have been time-travelling. And it is not just the jet lag that has given me a sense of the world turned upside down.

[THE TIMES] Chip queen is plotting to be kingmaker September 5 1998 AUSTRALASIA Fear of a divorcee holding the key to power is rising, David Watts in Sydney reports Pauline Hanson, who raised a storm with a warning that her country has been "swamped by Asians", has struck a chord with rural voters Photograph: PATRICK HAMILTON/REUTERS CABBIES have been banned from talking about her for fear of causing road rage, but the rest of Australia can talk of little else but the chip-shop owner turned superstar politician: Pauline Hanson.

[REUTERS] NEW ZEALAND: NZ FLAGS NEW ENSIGN TO REFRESH NATIONAL IDENTITY Sept 3 By Rodney Joyce WELLINGTON - New Zealanders, tired of confusion between their flag and neighbouring Australia's, are looking for an identity makeover.

[SATURDAY ARGUS] Sheilas' lose out to babes' as Aussies go American Sydney - The guardians of Australia's rich linguistic tradition fear that cherished native idioms such as "bonzer", "fair dinkum" and "don't come the raw prawn" are going the way of a 'roo on an outback roadside.

[SAPA/AFP] Australian growth rates survive Asia Sydney - New figures on the Australian economy released yesterday showed growth rates still at enviably high levels, despite being clipped by the regional downturn.

[SAPA/AFP] Australia is economic strong man of Asia' Sydney New figures on the Australian economy released on Wednesday showed growth rates still at enviably high levels, despite being clipped by the regional downturn.

[CAPE TIMES] Hanson a right-wing wild card BRISBANE: Former fish-and-chip shop owner Pauline Hanson is the wild card in Australia's election. She leads a right-wing populist party that has a chance of winning the balance of power in the Senate.

[SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST] 'Hanson appeal melting' in heat of poll campaign Tuesday September 8 Australia No deals: John Howard ROGER MAYNARD in Sydney Australia entered the second week of the election campaign yesterday with growing evidence that mounting national and international concern over the rise of Pauline Hanson might prove to be unfounded.

[SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST] Hanson prepares race bombshell to counter tax fiasco Wednesday September 9 Australia ROGER MAYNARD in Sydney One Nation leader Pauline Hanson is preparing to shift her party's focus back to the race issue in a desperate bid to shore up support.

[ZDNN] Electronic dirty tricks campaign backfires By Joel Deane September 8 The Australian Labor Party has become embroiled in an unsavory slice of Web history -- the first mainstream political party to be accused of electronic dirty tricks during an election campaign.,3441,2135614,00.html

[AFP] Hack fells Australian ruling party Web site August 31 SYDNEY, Australia - Computer hackers have vandalized the Web site of Prime Minister John Howard's Liberal Party, rewriting the pages of key ministers and linking them to pornography, officials said Tuesday.

[REUTERS] Australia among top users of child porn on Net September 3 By Michael Perry SYDNEY (Reuters) - Police involved in a worldwide swoop on Internet child pornography said Australia was the second biggest downloader of child pornography in the world, even though it is one of the smaller countries targeted in the global crackdown on the illicit activity.

[THE STAR] Johor and Queensland to work closely to develop tourism Tuesday, September 8 By Zazali Musa JOHOR BARU: Johor and Queensland (Australia) will work closely to develop Johor's tourism industry and its urban renewal project.

[IRISH TIMES] President prays ceasefire 'is the dawning of the end' Wednesday, September 9 >From Christopher Zinn, in Sydney In the middle of an ecumenical service commemorating the Rising of 1798 news came through here yesterday of the "Real IRA's" ceasefire. In a dramatic clifftop setting near Bondi, the President, Mrs McAleese, was honouring the memory of the United Irishmen at the world's largest 1798 monument when she heard of the statement. --

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"People have been extremely distressed about what's happening in their community having to negotiate five drug dealers to buy a carton of milk or having offers of sex on the way to catch a train." Clover Moore MP