Howard Out, Rudd In as Aussie P.M.

CANBERRA, Australia - While Americans were enjoying a 4-day Thanksgiving holiday, 13.6 million Australians went to the polls Saturday and elected Kevin Rudd to replace John Major as prime minister.

The election took place after just a six-week campaign, the results of which augur dramatic change in many policies for the longtime American ally.

Howard was a renowned friend of U.S. President Bush, and showed his support most visibly by sending Australian troops to fight in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Rudd, whose Labor Party swept not only the federal election but also now controls all six Australian states, has vowed to end his country's involvement in Iraq and also to support the Kyoto treaty.

As far as issues that may impact the adult entertainment industry, Fiona Patten, CEO of the Eros Association, Australia's industry trade association, said that while she is personally happy to have the Labor Party installed and feels it is generally better on social issues, there are mixed feelings from an industry perspective.

"Labor has promised to force ISPs to provide a 'clean feed' to all customers," Patten told XBIZ. "This feed would prohibit all adult content. If a customer wanted to access adult material, they would have to apply to their ISP to have the filter removed. This will be devastating to the Australian industry and bad for anyone internationally who has Australian customers."

On a more positive note is the fact that Australia now has a Labor federal government and Labor governments in all the states.

"I am hopeful that this will enable us to get the state governments to adopt the national film classification regulations which would enable [X-rated films] to be sold legally throughout Australia," Patten said. "Currently it is illegal to sell an X-rated film in all states with the exception of ACT [Australian Capital Territory] and NT [Northern Territories]."

All challenges aside, Patten said that more than 5 million adult DVDs are sold in Sydney annually.

"Unfortunately, many of them are pirated and illegally imported. The police do not really uphold the ban on the sale. It is difficult when the product is legal to buy and possess but illegal to sell," she said.

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