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Australia’s Hawke Ousted by Former Aide

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From Reuters

Bob Hawke, who led Australia’s Labor Party to four successive election victories but whose popularity could not survive a deep recession, was ousted as prime minister Thursday by his former treasurer, Paul Keating.

Keating, at 47 Australia’s youngest prime minister, promised policies to lift the nation out of a crippling recession. He was sworn in early today as the country’s 24th prime minister. His victory marked the first time an incumbent Australian prime minister had been dumped from office by his party.

“The fight is over as far as Bob Hawke is concerned,” Hawke told reporters after losing a leadership vote of the Labor members of Parliament by 51 to 56.

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Hawke, 62, a blunt-spoken former union leader who came to power in 1983, was dumped because neither his personal popularity nor the recession that has gripped Australia for 18 months showed any sign of improving.

Keating, who left school at 14, managed a 1960s rock band and became the nation’s youngest legislator at 25, is the nation’s master of political invective.

Even his detractors agree that he has no equal in slinging insults. He has called political opponents “harlots, sleaze bags, frauds, stupid foul-mouthed grubs, pieces of criminal garbage, perfumed gigolos, scumbags (and) thugs”

His reputation was made as the architect of Australia’s economic liberalization.

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