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Friday, 26 October, 2001, 12:35 GMT 13:35 UK
Profile: Kim Beazley
Labor leader Kim Beazley
Kim Beazley is said to have "won" the TV debate
Australia's main opposition leader, Kim Beazley of the Labor party, has been having a tough election campaign.

Prime Minister John Howard started out as the clear favourite, boosted in popularity by his hardline approach to asylum seekers.

And the campaign has been overshadowed by Australia's backing of the US-led conflict in Afghanistan.

But Mr Beazley has fought back and closed the gap, thanks in part to a strong showing in a televised debate between the two leaders.

As the Melbourne Age declared following the debate, "Beazley is back in town".

Mr Beazley, 52, has been Labor leader since 1996.

Colleagues speak of him as an amiable, highly intelligent and passionate man and newspaper profiles of him are peppered with words like avuncular, trustworthy, honourable and decent.

But these same qualities have led some political writers to wonder at times if he is competitive enough to be a winner - as if trust and decency might be considered weaknesses in a politician.

Perth man

Mr Beazley says he has enough political experience to ignore such criticisms. He was born into a political family and his father, also named Kim, was a popular minister in Gough Whitlam's Labor government.

Kim junior, born on 14 December 1948, studied at Oxford University as well as the University of Western Australia. He lectured on social and political history at Murdoch University in Perth, his home city, before being elected to parliament in 1980.

He is one of only four ministers to have served the whole 13 years of the Hawke and Keating governments and his administration of the Defence Ministry is regarded as having been singularly successful.

Mr Beazley is married to wife Susie, and has three children.

See also:

08 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Air strikes overshadow Australian election
05 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Australian election date set
09 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Australia talks tough on migrants
21 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Howard's refugee gamble paying off
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