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Friday, 26 October, 2001, 11:31 GMT 12:31 UK
Profile: John Howard
John Howard
John Howard was a solicitor before entering politics
Last year Australian Prime Minister John Howard completed one of the most remarkable political turnarounds in Australian history.

In the first few months of 2001 Mr Howard days in office appeared numbered. His conservative coalition was doing badly at the ballot box, losing two state elections and a by-election.


Mr Howard is a man who has demonstrated that he is not afraid to take unpopular decisions

But by the end of the year, Mr Howard emerged triumphant after a general election decided on two key issues: asylum and the global war on terrorism.

And his role in chairing the Commonwealth committee which approved the suspension of Zimbabwe has now boosted his status as a world leader.

Mr Howard, 62, is a seasoned political fighter and has surprised the political analysts before.

The head of the Liberal party has been prime minister since March 1996. He achieved a second term in 1998 once more, against the odds.

Tough decisions

Mr Howard is a man who has demonstrated that he is not afraid to take unpopular decisions.

John Howard speaks to members of the Australian army's elite SAS
Mr Howard pledged support to the US after 11 September

He has pushed through laws on gun control, aboriginal land ownership, compulsory trade unionism and welfare spending in the face of strong resistance.

Analysts accounted for the resurgence in Mr Howard's popularity largely due to his tough stance on asylum seekers.

His refusal last August to admit 400 migrants picked up by a Norwegian cargo ship was supported by many Australians.

His support for the US-led war on terrorism following the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington also proved popular.

Many observers noted that Mr Howard appeared to relish the opportunity to appear statesmen-like and authoritative.

Law career

Mr Howard was born in Sydney on 26 July 1939. He was involved in student politics at the University of Sydney and joined the Young Liberal Movement at the age of 18.

But he initially shunned politics as a career and become a solicitor. In 1962 he was admitted to the New South Wales Supreme Court, and then went on to become a partner in a Sydney firm.

He entered politics in 1974 when he ran for the federal seat of Bennelong, a Sydney suburb. He has held the seat ever since. He was Liberal leader from 1985-89, and was returned to the leadership in 1995.

Mr Howard is married to a teacher, Janette, and they have three children.

See also:

20 Mar 02 | Africa
Zimbabwe offered carrot and stick
11 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Howard's election victory
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