Australia: National hero Maxine McKew completes Howard's richly-deserved humiliation Print E-mail
Sydney Morning Herald ~~ Monday November 27, 2007 12:55PM

McKew claims PM's seat

Paul Bibby

Scroll down to also read "Howard's cronies should join him in the wilderness"

Maxine McKew has declared that Bennelong is a Labor seat for the first time, in a press conference outside her campaign headquarters at Eastwood at midday.

Ms McKew, who is 2500 votes ahead in the seat, declared: "The people of Bennelong have spoken for change.

"This is now a Labor seat for the first time," she said.

"We feel we are comfortably ahead with a swing in every booth but one."

But she said she was stopping short of officially declaring the seat hers.

As of 12.30pm today,  she was leading Mr Howard with 51.66 per cent of the vote on a two-party preferred basis.

She required a 4.13 per cent two-party preferred swing to win the seat but had achieved a swing of 5.79 per cent away from Mr Howard.

Ms McKew said she had targeted conservative voters in the campaign for Bennelong but denied she had won the seat on the back of a growing Asian vote.

"My strategy was to go after Liberal voters - not Chinese, Korean, Italian or Armenian. I want to clear that up before we get an urban myth about Chinese and Korean voters."

The victory was also a win for grassroots campaigning over the "buckets of money" Mr Howard and the Liberal Party had pumped into the seat, she said.

"Mr Howard and the Liberal Party spent $20 million in the campaign for Bennelong ... all we promised was a child-care centre."

She said she had spoken to Kevin Rudd this morning about her future in the party but would not comment on whether she would take up a portfolio or become parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister, as had been reported.

"We'll have to see how things pan out, things will become clearer later in the week.

"Obviously there is an urgent need to deal comprehensively with climate change.

"People want things fixed, they want hospitals fixed and they want schools fixed. I made Kevin aware that there were some real needs in Bennelong, particularly educational needs."

- with AAP

Sydney Morning Herald ~~ Tuesday November 27, 2007

Howard's cronies should join him in the wilderness

Alan Ramsey

We have our country back. John Howard's Australia died with his government on Saturday night. So did the political careers of a whole raft of Coalition MPs. The final casualty list depends on how the count concludes in a few undecided seats, Howard's among them. It couldn't be more exquisite than that the Labor iceberg should take our outgoing prime minister down, too. Nobody is more deserving of oblivion.

And where was the carnage greatest, despite all that blarney from Howard in the campaign's dying days that "I can still win"?

Labor made gains everywhere, but the Liberal bloodbath in NSW and Queensland alone gave Kevin Rudd the 16 Coalition seats (and more) he needed to put Labor into office federally and complete the Labor sweep in every state and territory. Nine Labor governments in total.

We've not seen its like before.

There was a lot of confected guff yesterday from some of his colleagues who survived about what a "great" prime minister Howard had been, even the "greatest" after Menzies, the Liberals' deified founder.

Yet the reality is Howard's enduring legacy is the utter destruction of the party to which he professed, in his election night concession of defeat, to "owe" everything. All those state and territory Labor governments now in office, with the exception of NSW, came to power under Howard's watch as prime minister.

Think about that.

Howard saw the demise of every Liberal or Coalition government in every Australian capital except Sydney as he plunged onwards through four Coalition victories federally across the better part of 12 years. Now his government joins them all in the cemetery. Yet this, we're told, is a "great" prime minister, the national head of the Liberal Party and the senior partner for almost 60 years in what remains of the non-Labor Coalition. Such is the reality of Howard's "greatness".

As for this last election, the one that kills Howard off politically, along with the nastiest, meanest, most miserable, self-absorbed Commonwealth government to blight Australia in living memory, Rudd out-campaigned him, with discipline and immense energy, like Howard has never previously been thrashed in his 33 years in political life.

And for many of us, as Howard and his strategists pulled on every ugly negative they could come up with, not just in these past six weeks but over the past year, it was a delight to see him flounder so badly and fail so completely. All that remains to sweep him out of sight is to get rid of the more obscene remnants of his governance in the months ahead.

Peter Costello, one of those who went through the ritual yesterday of "talking up" the selfish little man who never understood when it was the right time to get out, has been smart enough to understand he is not going to hang about and try and resurrect the wreck that Howard leaves behind.

Who could blame him?

Now, while Costello sits on the backbench for three years, honouring his commitment to his voters in his Melbourne seat, what should happen is those other political misfits like Alexander Downer, Philip Ruddock and Tony Abbott should think about another life outside politics. None are part of the Liberals' future.

For God's sake, go and make our Christmas complete.