Australia. In Queensland, five of the dissatisfaction
party left One Nation's state parliamentarians party in
February, and even more threatened to step down. In
connection with this, party leader Pauline Hanson was forced
to step down, but she was re-elected to her post later that
Countryaah official website, the state election in New South Wales on March 27 was a
success for the Social Democratic Australian Labor Party
(ALP), which increased its majority by 17 seats. One of the
most important election concerns was the possible
privatization of the state's electricity system, something
that the ALP opposed.
At the federal level, a 10 percent tax on goods and
services was approved in June. The new VAT is part of the
Conservative government's policy of reducing income taxes.
In August, Prime Minister John Howard and Parliament made
an apology to the Aboriginal people for the abuses it has
suffered in previous generations. He was criticized by some
Aboriginal leaders for avoiding saying the word "sorry".
The state election in Victoria on September 18 became a
setback for the Liberal Party / National Party, which,
however, received a mandate more than the ALP.
In a referendum on November 7, Australians had to decide
whether they wanted to maintain the monarchy or establish a
republic, with a president to be appointed by Parliament.
The opinion polls that preceded the election had hinted that
there was a clear majority for the republic, but 55% voted
to keep the ties to the British krona. The election result
was interpreted as many Australians opposed the system of
indirect presidential elections. Prime Minister Howard
advocated monarchy, but the government was strongly divided
on the issue. The largest opposition party, the ALP,
promised a new referendum if they won the parliamentary
elections in 2001.
Australia led the UN force sent to East Timor in
September, and by the end of the year, Prime Minister Howard
promised that the country would continue to play a pivotal
role when the UN took over command in early 2000.