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Australians decide Howard's fate at ballot box

Australians cast votes to decide whether to re-elect Prime Minister John Howard for a fifth term or oust him in favour of rival Kevin Rudd.

world Updated: Nov 24, 2007 11:03 IST

Australians went to the polls on Saturday to decide whether to re-elect Prime Minister John Howard for a fifth term or oust him in favour of rival Kevin Rudd, ending 11 years of conservative rule.

The first ballots were cast from 8:00 am (0230 IST on Saturday) in the east of the country in a contest that could see US President George W Bush's stalwart ally either elected to a fifth term or kicked unceremoniously out of office.

The vote that opinion polls have long billed as a likely landslide for Rudd's centre-left Laboudd's commanding lead.

As 13.5 million voters in a nation of 21 million began filling out ballot papers from Australia's remote outback to its bustling cities and the icy wastes of Antarctica, Howard said he was confident of victory.