This Fact File was completed by Sanctum and I. We hope it brings about a better understanding of how our country runs. There is many things that we
would have liked to include here and we could easily have filled pages and pages but we have tried to keep it all concise. There are plenty of links
in each section for the reader to study further in areas that interest them. Dmoz has most links to information categorized for easy access.
I would like to thank Sanctum for his work and effort on the piece we have created.
Welcome to Australia.
- Fact File
Opening of the First Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia by H.R.H. The Duke of Cornwall and York (Later King George V), 9 May, 1901
Tom Roberts (1856-1931) oil on canvas, 304.5 x 509.2 cm.
On permanent loan to the Parliament of Australia from the British Royal Collection. Courtesy of Parliament House Art Collection, Joint House
Department, Canberra ACT. Photo credit: Bruce Moore
CIA Australia Factsheet
National Archives of Australia - Factsheet
Official Government Website
Australia is situated in the South Pacific, Oceania area of SOuth East Aisa. it is the largest Island in the world and is completely surround by
water. It was discovered by British White man and explorer James Cook aboard the Endevour in 1770, although there is history pointing to the dutch
being the first white people to adventure to theWest Coast of the Island in the 1600's. Australia was then formed into a penal colony for the British
with the first fleet arriving in Sydney 1778 under Captain Philips. A stolen handkerchief earned 7 years to the colony and a stolen loaf of bread
often resulted in 14 years of penal servitude in the colony.
Australia is proud of it's convict heritage and Australians are deeply patriotic of their grassroots. The Australian National Colours are green and
Gold, which signifies the Earth and Sun. (I personally think they should add the Blue Water). Australia consists of Six States and two territories
plus smaller holdings (offshore islands and Antarctic territory)
Australia is part of the Commonwealth of Nations and a Federation under the Queen Of England as Head Of State. Her direct representative in Australia
is the Governor General who has the power to dismiss Australia's Prime Minister of their position and duties forthwith. The event has actually
happened in Australia's history with the now famous Whitlam sacking in 1975 and the quote made famous by Whitlam at the time. "Well may he (Sir John
Kerr) say 'God Save the Queen' - because nothing will save the Governor-General".
Australia is an independent constitutional monarchy. The Prime Minister can ask the Governor General to dissolve the House and call new elections at
any time. Every citizen over the age of 18 years must enrol to vote and must vote at each election. If a registered voter fails to vote, they will
incur a monetary fine unless a valid reason is provided.
Australian Politics is based on the Westminster system, although Australia has an upper House - The Senate, unlike the British House Of Lords and more
like the USA system, often bringing about the term Washminster. The constitution of Australia became effective in 1901.
Federal Government is divided into State and/or Territorial Governments and Local Councils within those States or Territories.
Constitution Of Australia Summary
Constitution Of Australia
The Australian Coat of Arms
The Commonwealth Coat of Arms site
The coats of arms of Australia focuses on two native animals, the Kangaroo and the Emu. The reason these two animals were chosen is that they cannot
The Commonwealth Coat of Arms.
The Flag of Australia.
The Australian flag contain the British Union Jack Signifying Australia's allegiance to the Queen and Commonwealth. The 6 stars on the flag are of
Australia's constellation "The Southern Cross" and they signify the six states of Australia.
The Australian Flag
Australian Aboriginal Flag.
The Aboriginal Flag
The aboriginal flag is commonly seen flying alongside the australian flag. This is out of respect to the native forebears and custodians of the land.
The flag signifys the earth sun and the colour of the aboriginal's skin
The aboriginal flag
The Boxing Kangaroo.
The Boxing Kangaroo Flag
Story of Boxing Kangaroo and Includes Kangaroo Facts Info
The boxing kangaroo flag was first seen on aircraft in world war 2, sometimes along with a tally score of planes that particular plane had shot down
or bombs targetted successfully. It was adopted by the military as a mascot in subsequent wars and came to worldwide fame and attention in 1983 when
Australia and the crew of Australia One took the Amercia's Cup Sailing challenge home for the first time ever outside the USA. Since that time it
flys high at the olympics and other international sporting events and there is a push from some quarters to have it replace the standard flag
The Boxing Kangaroo - Sometimes Named Matilda
Link To Music File
Prime Ministers Anthem Page
- He is not singing himself thank god.
Wikipedia - Advance Australia Fair
Lyrics and Information
Waltzing Matilda - National Library Of Australia
Advance Australia Fair replaced God Save the Queen as Australia's national anthem in the 1970's but Australia's heart is still with the "National
Song" - Waltzing Matilda.
Federal Politics and History
Federal Government website
The seat of Australian Federal Politics is Capital Hill, Canberra.
The word Canberra is said to be derived from the word 'Canberry', or 'meeting place' in the Ngunnawal language.
Canberra came about when it was decided for the country to become a federation and both of the main cities at the time, Sydney and Melbourne argued
over who should be the seat of power. It was then decided to build a new national capital, roughly halfway between the two cities. Hence the
Australian Capital Territory was created. Walter Burley Griffin designed Canberra city and the city has been laid out to perfection for a political
The Commonwealth Avenue Bridge was build in 1963. Along with the Kings Avenue Bridge, and the Constitution Avenue, they form the parliamentary
equilateral triangle, the heart of Canberra, according to the towns' architect Burley Griffin. The design is masonic in origin. The triangle corners
*"The City Hill Surrounded by the Vernon Circle (Centre of the city).
*The Australian-American Memorial (the true corner of the triangle is the aligned roundabout nearby).
*The hearth of the Australia Capital : the Capital Hill, under which the Australian Parliament House was built."
Eventually, the angle bisector of that triangle brings you from the Parliament House to the Australian War Memorial.
QTVR panorama link
Australia's First Parliament House
Old parliament House Website
Governor General's Official Website
The full title for Major General Jeffery is:
His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffery AC CVO MC Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia.
The Governor-General has many important constitutional, official and ceremonial duties to perform. For example, the Governor-General:
* dissolves the Parliament and issues writs for new elections;
* commissions the Prime Minister and appoints other Ministers after elections;
* gives assent to laws when they have been passed by the two Houses of Parliament - the Senate and the House of Representatives;
* acts on the advice of Ministers through the Executive Council to issue Regulations and proclamations under existing laws; appoint Federal judges;
Ambassadors and High Commissioners to overseas countries. Other senior government officials; issue Royal Commissions of enquiry; exercise the
prerogative of mercy; and authorise many other executive decisions by Ministers such as raising government loans or approving treaties with foreign
The Governor-General is the Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Defence Force, although in practice he or she acts only on the advice of
Ministers, Cabinet and, subject to Cabinet, the Minister for Defence, is responsible for Australia's defence policy.
His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffery, AC, CVO, MC (Retd)
Prime Minister of Australia
Prime Minister's official Website
John Howard is satirically referred to as "Little Johnny" or "Jack Boots Johnny". He is the leader of the Liberal Party. John Howard became the
Prime Minister of Australia in 1996 when the Liberal party swept to power after Labour had been in charge since 1983. He was first elected to
parliament in 1974 and served as Minister for Finance and Minister for Business Affairs under Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser in the late 70's
early 80's. He has long advocated economic deregulation and other market place reforms. He advocates privatisation and is behind the current push to
sell off Telstra, the primary Australian communications network to private interests.
The Hon. John Winston Howard.
Deputy Prime Minister
Mark Vaile's WebPage
The Current Deputy Prime Minister is Mark Vaile who recently replaced long standing deputy John Anderson, who was retired as leader but still
represents his electorate. John Anderson's Webpage
The deputy Prime Minister is usually taken from the National Party when the coalition is in power.
The Current Treasurers website
The Treasurer is Peter Costello, He is touted as John Howard's replacement when he retires as Prime Minister. He is often referred to as the Prime
Minister in Waiting.
Although the two men present a united public mainstream media image, it is rumoured that they are often at loggerheads, with opposing thoughts and
Minister For Foreign Affairs
Alexander Downer's Page
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade - Australian Fact Sheet
The Minister for Foreign Affairs is Alexander Downer.
Robert Hill's Page
The current Defence Minister is Senator Robert Hill.
Kim Beazley's Webpage
The Head of the opposition (ALP) is Kim Beazley. He replaced Mark Latham as leader of the party. Latham had in turn replaced Mr Beazley himself in a
political coup prior to the last elections. Kim Beazley is popular with the people and speaks out confidently on labour matters. Mark Latham was
retired from politics after the elections, excusing himself due to health matters. He performed bumbingly in the lead up to elections and many believe
he cost the labour party the win at the elections due to many slip ups and poor campaigning.
Kim Beazley - Labour Opposition Leader.
Houses and Elections
Parliamentary Library Election Information
The House of Representatives = Lower House
House of Representatives
The lower house is the House of Representatives and is distinctive due to the Blue Teal colour scheme. Whichever party holds the greater number of
seats in this lower house, forms government and elects the Prime Minister from their party. Elections are held every four years.
The House of Representatives seats 150 members of Parliament. There are enough empty seats for future increases in the number of MPs. The press
gallery is at the far end of the chamber above the Speaker’s chair. The public galleries are above the Government on the left and the Opposition on
The House of Representatives should have about twice as many members as the Senate. The number of members from a state is proportional to its
population, but must be at least five for any original state. The Northern Territory is represented by one member and the Australian Capital Territory
The House of Representatives is moderated by The Speaker.
The Senate = Upper House
The Senate consists of 76 members (12 from each state and, since 1974 2 from each territory), popularly elected to 6-year terms under the single
transferable vote form of proportional representation.
The Senate seats 76 Senators, though there are empty seats for future increases in the number of Senators. The Government Senators sit to the right
of the President of Senate. The Opposition sits to the President’s left. Senators in minor parties such as the Australian Democrats and the Greens
as well as Independents sit on the cross benches closest to the camera.
Compulsory voting was introduced in 1924. It was felt that since 60,000 Australians (about 1.3% of the national population) had died in World War I
defending freedom, Australians had a duty to use the freedoms so dearly bought. The immediate impetus for compulsory voting at federal level was the
low voter turnout (59.38%) in the federal elections of 1922. Voting is compulsory both at Federal elections and at elections for the State and
Territory legislatures. In some states voting at municipal elections is also compulsory. Although about 5% of enrolled voters fail to vote at most
elections, prosecutions for failure to vote are rare and the fine is nominal.
Australia uses various forms of preferential voting for almost all elections. Under this system, voters number the candidates on the ballot paper in
the order of their preference. The preferential system was introduced in 1918, in response to the rise of the Country Party, a party representing
small farmers. The Country Party split the anti-Labor vote in conservative country areas, allowing Labor candidates to win on a minority vote. The
conservative government of Billy Hughes introduced preferential voting as a means of allowing competition between the two conservative parties without
putting seats at risk. It was first used at the Corangamite by-election of December 1918. It had previously introduced as a result of the work of
Thomas Hare and Andrew Inglis Clark in the Tasmanian House of Assembly.
Preferential voting has gradually extended to both upper and lower houses, in the Federal, State and Territory legislatures, and is also used in
Municipal elections, and the majority of other elections, such as internal political party elections, trade union elections, church elections,
elections to company boards and elections in voluntary bodies such as football clubs.
Cabinet and Ministers
After an election, the Party forming Government with the most number of seats in the House Of Representatives then divides into a front bench and the
back bench. The front bench are the Ministers for all Federal Departments as listed below. Ministers are taken from both the Senate and the House Of
Representatives from the party in power. The opposition appoints "Shadow Ministers" in the same areas
Attorney-General's Department (AG's)
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF)
Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA)
Department of Defence
Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST)
Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR)
Department of Family and Community Services (FACS)
Department of Finance and Administration
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
Department of Health and Ageing
Department of Human Services
Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA)
Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources (DITR)
Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH)
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC)
Department of the Treasury
Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS)
Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA)
Australia uses a two party preferred system with the two main players being Liberal Coalition and Labour Party.
Liberal Coalition- White Collar
The Liberal party Website
Official National Party Website
The Liberal Party is aligned with the National Party, formerly called the Country Party, which represents rural interests.
Labour - Blue Collar.
Australian Labour Party Website
The Labour party is traditionally aligned with Australia's Grassroots. The party is popular with the union movement and Bob Hawke a previous leader
of the ACTU, later became Prime Minister. Bob Hawke was President of the Australian Capital Territory Union for many years before running for
Parliament. Many Australians believe he had greater power as leader of Australian unions than he did as Prime Minister.
Kim Beazley = "John Howard's Government is becoming more extreme. Control of the Senate means nothing can stop them unleashing extreme policies
that hurt Australian families.
Labor is taking up the fight for all Australians. We're taking up the fight for the millions of working Australians whose wages and conditions are
under threat from John Howard.
We're taking up the fight to tell the Government to "back off" and leave overtime, penalty rates, holiday pay and meal breaks alone.
After nine long years the Howard Government is ignoring the warning signs in the economy - record foreign debt, declining productivity, inadequate
infrastructure and a shortage of skilled Australian workers.
They're so out of touch they think there's only one solution - ripping apart workers' conditions and pay. Labor stands for a strong economy,
creating wealth and security for all Australians.
We achieve this by investing in Australia - in our people and in our infrastructure."
Smaller minor parties make up the balance along with a sprinkling of Independants.
The Democrats - Middle Class Centrists
In 1977, Don Chipp, a Liberal Member of the House of Representatives and former Minister, was approached by the people of the Australia Party, the
New Liberal Movement and by other concerned individuals to hold a series of meetings across Australia with a view to forming a new party ...
The Greens - Left Wing Environmentalists
Bit by bit the Government is revealing the real reasons behind its radical Industrial Relations agenda, and recent comments on radio 2GB by
Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane show that workers will be treated as collateral damage. In revealing the Government's intention to drive wage cuts
of around 20% to bring Australian workers in line with New Zealand, the Minister foreshadows a race to the bottom in which Australians are forced to
compete with the low-wage countries of south and east Asia
One Nation - anti Immigration
One Nation Secures it's Party Registration
The party now has restructured it's Federal AEC registration with two registrations, one based in NSW and another in QLD. Both separately supported
by membership numbers, not relying on parliamentarians.
Family First Party
Most legislation affects the family in some way. Consider issues such as aged care, education, hospitals and the environment. Political parties
generally have a constituency they predominantly represent, like business, unions or rural voters. Family First Party Australia, as the name
indicates, represents families.
Healthy and stable family life is the key to the prosperity of our communities and society. Family First will work towards change in law and policies
that creates the best possible environment for strong and happy family life.
Christian Democratic Party
* Marriage between a man and woman only – no same-sex adoptions
* Respite help for stay-at-home mothers provided through home-help services
* Financial incentives for mothers who choose to stay at home with their children.
Strong, functional and traditional families are the key to the ongoing stability of Australian society, as well as everywhere. They are a major
contributor to economic prosperity, the elimination of poverty, and many other social and costly problems. Families with young children are at a
vulnerable stage and should be supported in bonding and holding together. Some young mothers need respite from stress in order to cope.
In the States and Territories, elections are held at least every four years (except in Queensland, which has three-year terms). The State premiers
and Territory Chief Ministers have the same discretion in calling elections as the Prime Minister has at the national level. The State control areas
including public health and hospitals, agriculture and fisheries, education, disability services, mines and natural resources, roads and transport and
prisons, although for many years there have been persistent lobbies to have Education and Health taken from the States and put back into Federal
control, allowing national uniformity to these areas. The States and Territories are allocated a budget yearly by the Federal Government.
Local councils are made up from elected representatives from wards. Each local area has a number of wards and depending on numbers, each ward elects a
number of representatives. Local councils meet monthly and are in charge of issues such as building and development, roads and tourism. Councils
collect rates from landowners and parking fees.
The Prime Ministers official Canberra residence is called The Lodge
. It was built in 1926 as a temporary residence until a much grander mansion
could be built.
The origin of the name 'The Lodge' is unknown, but it was in use before the first occupants, Prime Minister and Mrs Bruce moved in on 4 May 1927.
Records of the Federal Capital Commission in the early 1920s refer to the residence as ‘The Lodge’ but who suggested it remains a mystery.
The Prime Minister also has a residence in Sydney called Kirribilli House for use by himself and his family. Originally it was bought by the
government for use by the Governor General.
The Governor General's official residence is Government House, which is named Yarralumla. It was bought by the government in 1916 when plans were put
in place for Canberra.
Terence Aubrey Murray, who already owned properties at the north end of Lake George, bought Yarralumla in 1837 and in 1843 married Mary Gibbes,
daughter of Colonel Gibbes, the New South Wales Collector of Customs.
It was a time of pastoral depression and Murray made over Yarralumla to his wife in a marriage settlement, lest it be lost to the family through
bankruptcy. She died in 1858 and control of Yarralumla passed from Murray, then President of the NSW Legislative Council, to his father-in-law,
Colonel Gibbes. By curious coincidence, it was the same Colonel Gibbes who had bought 5 acres on Kirribilli Point from Robert Campbell in 1842 and
there had built a house now Admiralty House, the Sydney residence of the Governor-General. To complete the coincidence, Colonel Gibbes, in 1881, sold
the Yarralumla property to Frederick Campbell, a descendant of Robert Campbell.
In Sydney the Governor General has usage of Admiralty House, a stunning mansion on the foreshores of Sydney Harbour.
Wikipedia - Australian Court Hierachy
Wikipedia - Australian Law
Wikipedia - Australian Courts
The High Court Website
The High Court of Australia is the court of last resort for the jurisdiction of Australia. It is mandated by Section 71 of the Australian
Constitution. Although the Constitution came into effect in 1901 upon the federation of the former British colonies of Australia, the High Court was
not in fact established until 1903. It finally became the court of last resort in 1986 upon passage of the Australia Act; this legislation abolished
recourse to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, except with the consent of the High Court, which has said it will never give (though this is
not binding). (For more detail on these developments, see Constitutional history of Australia.)
Australia does not have a Bill of Rights, like that in the Constitutions of the United States, Canada and other countries. As a general rule, the
protection of rights is left to the federal and State Parliaments and, in the application of the common law (i.e. judge-made law), to the courts. The
High Court, Australia's final court of appeal, therefore has a central role in the safeguarding of individual rights.
* Chief Justice Anthony Murray Gleeson
* Justice Michael McHugh
* Justice William Gummow
* Justice Michael Kirby
* Justice Kenneth Hayne
* Justice Ian Callinan
* Justice Dyson Heydon
Police and Defence
Australian Federal Police Website
Australian Defence Forces Website
Australia has a Federal Police Force situated in Canberra as well as state police forces in each state and territory.
Australian Defence Forces consist of Army Navy and Air Force. Australia also has a large Coast Guard contingent for border security. There is a large
customs service and Federal police Man the Airports along with Federal Security.
Australian Intelligence Agencies
AUSTRALIAN SECURITY INTELLIGENCE ORGANISATION ACT 1979
ASIO’s main role is to gather information and produce intelligence that will enable it to warn the government about activities or situations that
might endanger Australia’s national security. The ASIO Act defines ‘security’ as the protection of Australia and its people from espionage,
sabotage, politically motivated violence, the promotion of communal violence, attacks on Australia’s defence system, and acts of foreign
interference. Some of these terms are further defined in the ASIO Act.
ASIO focuses on terrorists, people who may act violently for political reasons, and people who may clandestinely obtain sensitive government
information (spies) or otherwise harm Australia’s interests in order to further their own causes or the interests of foreign governments.
ASIO does not investigate lawful protest activity, nor does it investigate purely criminal activities.
Other ASIO functions include providing security assessments, protective security advice and collecting foreign intelligence in Australia. In
conducting security assessments, ASIO assesses candidates general suitability for access to classified information. In the case of security
assessments for visa applicants, ASIO adopts a risk-management approach to identify people wanting to travel to Australia who may pose a security
risk. Protective security advice is given by ASIO to government agencies seeking cost-effective ways to protect their assets. ASIO only collects
foreign intelligence - information on the capabilities, intentions and activities of foreign powers - at the request of the Minister for Foreign
Affairs or the Minister for Defence.
Wikipedia - Australian Intelligence Agencies
ASIO is Australia's equivalent to the CIA. ASIO spies are active in the Asian arena as well as counteracting the Terror Threat from within. ASIO has
had some public slip ups over the past few years.
Defence Intelligence Organisation
Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO) provides all-source intelligence assessment at the national level to support Defence and Government
decision-making and the planning and conduct of Australian Defence Force operations. Located in Canberra, DIO is one of three organisations that make
up the Defence Intelligence Group under the Deputy Secretary for Intelligence and Security.
DIO's assessments focus on the Asia-Pacific region and cover strategic, political, defence, military, economic, scientific and technical areas.
DIO's intelligence products help inform decisions about Australia's military activities at home and abroad, Defence acquisition processes, force
readiness decisions, strategic policy, international relations and defence scientific developments.
Australian Government Site
Australian Electoral Commission
- Electoral Information.
National Archives of Australia
Australian Parliamentary Library
Australian National Library
Australian National University Library
Chronology Of Australian Events
Website On Australian Elections
Wkipedia - Politics Of Australia
Wikipedia - Australian Referendums
Wikipedia - Australian Royal Commissions
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