There is a significant chance that Australian PM Howard, one of the world's strongest supporters of America's War on Terror, will be defeated in the 9 October election. He is behind in the polls. Mark Latham, the Labor candidate for PM, has previously declared that he would withdraw Australian troops from Iraq. Thus, if Latham wins, Australia would then join other traditional US allies, such as Canada, on the sidelines regarding the war in Iraq. The Sydney Morning Herald website might require registration. Here is the link: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/09/21/1095651321847.html# Polls Put Labor ahead as Howard Defends Pre-emptive Pledge September 21, 2004 - 8:04PM Two separate polls put Labor ahead in the election race today as Prime Minister John Howard was forced to reassure Asian neighbours he had no plans to launch unilateral military strikes on terrorist networks across the region. Mr Howard defended his pledge to take pre-emptive action against terrorists threatening Australia after Malaysia and Indonesia voiced concerns about the prospect of a strike on their territory. Indonesian ambassador Imron Cotan said Australia had assured Indonesia and other regional countries it would not send troops into their countries in pre-emptive strikes, while Malaysian deputy prime minister Najib Razak said his country would not allow its national sovereignty to be violated. Mr Howard said Australia would always consult another country before taking any action on its soil. "We would always cooperate and we would always collaborate, but what I have said is if there was no alternative, that is the action we would take," Mr Howard told reporters in far north Queensland. On Cairns radio, Mr Howard rejected Labor claims he had backed down on his policy of pre-emptive strikes. "I haven't backed away from anything and I wasn't saying that we were going to launch an attack against another country," he said. Mr Howard's comments came as two polls showed Labor edging ahead of the coalition on a two-party preferred basis for the October 9 poll. Today's Newspoll put Labor ahead on 52.5 per cent to the coalition's 47.5 per cent, while the Bulletin-Nine poll to be published tomorrow gave Labor 50.7 per cent and the government 49.3 per cent.Labor sneaked ahead on preferences from the Australian Greens, which claimed seven per cent of the vote in the Bulletin-Nine poll. Mr Howard said Labor could win and Australians should contemplate what that meant for the nation. "There is a prospect of a change in government," he told reporters. "Labor can win this election and people must therefore contemplate the consequences to the Australian economy, its defence and vitality if Labor were to win the election." Opposition Leader Mark Latham accused Mr Howard of flip-flopping on foreign policy and said he had failed to learn the lessons from Iraq. "You need to have 100 per cent intelligence certainty that what you're pre-empting is real, because he went to a war in Iraq for weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist and we know the calamity that's followed," Mr Latham said. "So imagine what would happen if you struck another country on their sovereign territory for a purpose that wasn't true ... that could lead to all sorts of escalations of military action." Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said pre-emption was aimed at failed states, not nations such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, which had effective counter-terrorism capabilities. "Of course we haven't any intention of sending troops into Indonesia without the approval of Indonesia," Mr Downer told ABC radio. He said Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines were partners in the war against terrorism and Australia would cooperate with them before taking any action. "But if, from some other part of the world, there was to be an attack on Australians or on the mainland of Australia and the country didn't have the capacity to stop that attack, we would have to try and take other action to stop that attack," he said. Meanwhile, Labor announced plans to establish a $60 million research centre designed to stop terrorists unleashing infectious diseases and viruses.