This article belongs to Australia - Land of the Free? column.
Saturday November 24th proved to be a bad day for Prime Minister John Howard.
The Australian people said we want change. They elected the Labor Party led by Kevin Rudd in emphatic fashion.
Labor will have a majority of about 25 seats in the House of Representatives, enough to claim a mandate for their reform program.
John Howard's Liberal/National Party Coalition was seen as old and tired, too close to George Bush and not moving fast enough on climate change. Bush is unpopular in Australia and he often declared Howard was his friend and a man of steel. This did Howard no good at all. In addition, the Liberals were seen as supporting the Iraq war, and Labor has declared they will bring home Australian soldiers from the conflict.
Interestingly, Labor supports the war in Afghanistan and may even send more troops.
Industrial Relations was another area that hurt the Howard Government, Rudd has declared he will repeal many of the laws that made it easier to sack workers and take away entitlements in exchange for extra money.
But the major reason for the change was 68-year-old John Howard was seen as too old compared to 50-year-old fresh-faced Kevin Rudd. Howard looked tired and run down even though he was seen to be vigorously exercising every morning. Rudd was able to promote new leadership and fresh ideas for the future.
Australia will change. Firstly, Labor has declared they will immediately ratify the Kyoto green house gas emissions protocol, fix the ailing Australian health system, raise the focus of Australia in Asia, invest heavily in education, negotiate better agreements with the states, invest in childcare, and return balanced budgets in surplus. In addition, they declared they would create better water management for the ailing River Murray.
The final irony is it appears as if John Howard will even lose his seat of Bennelong to high profile broadcaster Maxine McKew.
That is really rubbing salt in the wounds.