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Thursday, 22 November, 2001, 08:57 GMT
New leader for Australian opposition
Asylum seekers were a key issue during the election
The Australian Labor Party, which failed to unseat the country's conservative government in an election earlier this month, has chosen a new leader - the former trades union chief Simon Crean.

John Howard ran a fear campaign. We know we won the last campaign - what we didn't win was the election

Simon Crean
Mr Crean, who was the party's financial spokesman, was elected unopposed to replace Kim Beazley, who resigned after the defeat at the polls.

Correspondents say further changes in Labor's leadership and its approach to policy-making are likely.

Australian voters gave a resounding victory to the prime minister, John Howard, who is now embarking on his centre-right coalition's third term in office.

Mr Crean has pledged to review union influence after the party's third straight election loss, along with the party's decision to support the government's hard line against unwanted boatpeople.

"John Howard ran a fear campaign," Mr Crean said. "We know we won the last campaign - what we didn't win was the election."

Labor's historic first

The Labor Party's new leadership team includes a woman, Jenny Macklin, as deputy leader - an historic first for Australia. She was shadow health minister under Mr Beazley.

The 52-year-old Mr Crean, an economics and law graduate, is a former leader of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, where he acquired a reputation as an aggressive union boss.

Crean's career
1990: First elected to parliament
Until 1996: Labor Minister
1998: Named party deputy and shadow treasurer

First elected to the national parliament in 1990, he was named deputy to Mr Beazley and shadow treasurer in 1998,

He is the son of former deputy prime minister Frank Crean, who held office in the 1972-75 Labor administration led by Gough Whitlam, and was himself a minister during the latter part of Labor's 13-year reign until 1996 under Prime Ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating.

Mr Crean said he would reveal his full shadow cabinet in the coming days.

See also:

11 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Howard's election victory
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