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Australia in the 2000s

Liberal-National Party coalition politics

The Liberal-National Party coalition government led by John Howard became the second-longest serving government under a single prime minister. The government was in power from 11 March 1996 until 3 December 2007. During this time, it oversaw an economic surplus, which positioned Australia as one of the top-ranking economies in the world.

On 1 July 2000, the federal treasurer, Peter Costello, introduced a reform titled A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999. The GST replaced the former Wholesale Sales Tax.

In 2001, the Howard government implemented a new policy on border protection and asylum seekers called the 'Pacific solution', which saw an offshore processing of asylum seekers on the Pacific islands of Manus Island (Papua New Guinea) and Nauru.

In 2006, the government's new industrial relations policy, Work Choices, passed unamended in the Senate. It proved unpopular with the electorate and the unions. At the 2007 election, the Liberal-Country Party coalition government was defeated, with John Howard losing his seat in parliament. He was beaten by ex-journalist and Labor challenger Maxine McKew.

A snapshot of 2008

  • January
    • The United Nations General Assembly chose 2008 to be the United Nations International Year of Planet Earth.

  • February
    • An official apology by the new prime minister, Kevin Rudd, to the Stolen Generations was made the first order of business of the new federal parliament.

  • June
    • Australia ended its combat operations in Iraq, withdrawing approximately 550 troops from the region.

  • July
    • World Youth Day (WYD), the largest youth event in the world, attracted 223,000 pilgrims to the event held in Sydney.

  • September
    • The Global Financial Crisis began having a serious effect on the Australian economy.
    • Quentin Bryce was sworn in as the first female governor-general of Australia.


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