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THE WEEK AHEAD

CANBERRA : The Economy, Stupid

March 09, 1993

Australians will vote in federal elections Saturday in what appears a bitter and increasingly tight race between the incumbent Labor government of Prime Minister Paul Keating and opposition leader John Hewson and his Liberal-National coalition.

The economy is the issue. After 10 years of Labor governments, Australia is mired in the deepest recession in 50 years. Although the worst seems over, unemployment in the country of 17.5 million is still above 11%.

Hewson, an economist, promises to radically reform organized labor practices, phase out tariffs, pare back the country's universal health care system, cut income taxes and raise consumption taxes. Keating, an acid-tongued politician with a common touch, campaigns for continued market-oriented reforms to make Australia more competitive with its booming neighbors in Asia.

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