While we Americans were gorging ourselves on turkey and dressing, Australians were busy voting out their Prime Minister John Howard, who has been one of President Bush’s closest allies. His successor, Kevin Rudd, has pledged to sign the Kyoto climate treaty, withdraw from Iraq and apologize to aborigines for Australia’s past abuses.

It’s a stinging defeat for Howard, who not only lost his fifth bid for the office, but may even wind up without a seat in parliament. No sitting Australian prime minister has lost his seat in 78 years.


Mr Rudd’s two major foreign policy initiatives will both highlight differences with the Bush administration.

Firstly, the new Australian leader will sign the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. Perhaps more importantly, given that Kyoto has to be followed by a new agreement, he will himself go to the meeting in Bali next month that will launch negotiations for a post-Kyoto plan.

Secondly, Mr Rudd is expected to withdraw the 550 Australian combat troops from Iraq.

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