Surprise Growth In Australia Boosts Reelection Odds

Australia is riding out the Asian crisis surprisingly well, registering 3.9% growth in the year ending June 30 and confounding economists' predictions of recession. The unexpectedly good performance boosts the reelection hopes of Prime Minister John Howard, who has wasted no time in describing Australia as "the economic strongman of Asia." Howard's Liberal-National Coalition is running neck and neck in opinion polls with the opposition Labor Party as Australia prepares for a general election on Oct. 3. If he wins, Howard plans major tax reforms, including a new 10% goods and services tax, cuts in income taxes, and tighter reins on executive pay packages.

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