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Australia's "conservative" Liberals

On November 6, 2001, Reuters moved this story about elections in Australia. Here is how the copy came to me, slightly pre-edited. 

 

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia's minor parties and marginal seats looked poised to decide Saturday's election, with Prime Minister John Howard's conservatives and opposition Labor virtually tied, the Reuters Poll Trend showed on Wednesday.

With local polls at odds over whether Howard's five-year-old government or centre-left Labor has the lead, the race is likely to go down to the wire, with marginal seats expected to determine the outcome.

But with commentators openly doubting a Morgan opinion poll showing Labor with a commanding nine-point lead, a lingering belief that Howard's conservative coalition holds the upper hand pervaded the final days of the campaign.


Now, this brief article was quite a challenge. First of all, these first few paragraphs of what was assuredly a much longer news article never stated what political party to which John Howard actually belonged. I checked the original copy, and the information wasn't contained there, either.

So I went to an Internet search engine - www.google.com - and typed in "John Howard." I was directed to the Web site of the political party in Australia that he leads, which happens to be Australia's Liberal Party.

I also discovered that the so-called "conservative coalition" was a reference to the alliance between Howard's Liberal Party and Australia's National Party. That discovered, I edited the dispatch to read:

 

Australia's minor parties and marginal seats looked poised to decide Saturday's election, with Prime Minister John Howard's Liberal Party and the opposition Labor Party virtually tied, a Reuters poll showed today.

With local polls at odds over whether Howard's five-year-old government or Labor has the lead, the race is likely to go down to the wire, with marginal seats expected to determine the outcome.

But with commentators doubting a Morgan opinion poll showing Labor with a commanding nine-point lead, a lingering belief that Howard's coalition with the National Party holds the upper hand pervaded the final days of the campaign.

 

The copy-edited version of this news report certainly is an improvement over the first. It provides facts, not interpretations. It's of immensely greater value in helping understand the political situation in Australia, however superficially.

The lesson? Skip the subjective labels. Don't omit the objective labels. Let the facts speak for themselves.

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