The good news is that John Howard's Liberal-National coalition looks likely to lose this weekend's general election in Australia. They're trailing Labor by up to 14 points, so a thrashing seems to be on the cards. Hooray!
The bad news is that Howard's Liberals have been up to their old tricks again. And by 'old tricks', I naturally mean 'dirty tricks'. Campaign staff in Sydney have been caught distributing false electoral material in an attempt to smear the Labor party. The leaflets, distributed in the Lindsay district of the city, purported to come from an invented Islamic organisation in alliance with the Labor party. They claimed that Labor was ready to forgive the perpetrators of the Bali bombing which killed more than 200 people, including 88 Australians (and which, justifiably, is seen in Australia as effectively a direct attack on Australia itself).
As anyone with a passing interest in Australian politics will know, this is not the first time that Howard's party have been caught red-handed. For me, the most atrocious incident brings together issues like race and manipulation and speaks volumes about the sort of man Howard is. I'm speaking, of course, of the notorious 'Children Overboard Affair' in which Howard and his ministers lied about illegal immigrants threatening their own children's lives by throwing them into the sea after being intercepted by a Royal Australian Navy vessel.
The aim was to make Howard look 'tough' on immigration. Indeed, Howard himself uttered the words "I don't want people like that in Australia", even though it has since been proven that he knew that no asylum seekers had thrown their children recklessly into the sea. What a disgraceful man.
He won the election that year. In a few days, though, he'll be out of office. So that's Aznar, Blair and Howard out. One more to go!