The Labor government in the state of South Australia has been defeated in what analysts see as voter reaction to its policy against the sale of the state's large uranium resources.
The election is expected to have considerable impact throughout the country. Exploitation of Australia's uranium resources -- estimated to total one-fourth of the world's known reserves of the ore -- has been one of the most hotly debated issues in the country for the past several years. Leftists and conservationists have formed an alliance against those pushing for the mining of uranium.
The weekend balloting in South Australia saw a swing of 11 percent to the conservative Liberal Party, which controls the national government and which favors exploitation of uranium.
The surprising size of the swing, which exceeded that indicated in pre-election polls, was apparently the result of a vote taken the day before at a meeting of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, this country's equivalent of the AFL-CIO and longtime political ally of the Labor Party.
The Council voted 512-318 to continue its two-year-old ban on the mining and export of uranium.
The Liberal Party in South Australia linked its opponents' prohibition against mining to the fact that the state has the country's highest rate of unemployment, 8 1/2 percent.
The Council of Trade Unions' vote to continue its stand against uranium was a sharp rebuff to Council president Robert Hawke, who had argued to have the ban removed.Hawke, who has held the Council post for 10 years, has become one of Australia's most well-known personalities. He is though to have political ambitions that reach to the prime minister's office.
Hawke had indicated that he intended to announce later this week whether he was going to become a candidate for the federal Parliament.