Friday, February 1, 2013

The One On The Right Was On The Left

A lot of you have asked how far cities are from each other.  I thought I would post this map I found to show each country in relation to each other.  This is a huge country!  It’s the sixth largest country by total area in the world. 

Now, let’s all learn about the Australian government! Woohoo! Best post ever.

Australia is formally known as the Commonwealth of Australia.  It is a federal constitutional monarchy under a parliamentary democracy. What a mouthful!  Basically it means that they have a Queen (Queen Elizabeth II since they are still a part of the British Commonwealth) with a constitution and two houses of Parliament; the Senate and the House of Representatives.  Seem familiar?  Just like everything else here you take a dash of Britain, add a touch of America and toss it in an Australian sauce and bam, Australia! 

Parliament can suggest changes to the Constitution but they are not effective until they are passed by a referendum of a double majority of all voters in Australia. This means a majority of all votes and a majority of votes in a majority of States.  Voting is compulsory so anyone over the age of 18 has to vote or you get a penalty of $20.  So, if you want to change something everyone gets to vote on it. Since making the vote compulsory in 1924 no vote has had less than a 90% turnout. 

Australia is made up of six states (New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia) and three main territories (Australian Capital Territory, Norfolk Island, and Northern Territory).  Each state has their own constitution but the territories have no representation in Parliament. Think the District of Columbia.  They have to follow the rules but they don’t get a say in making them.  No taxation without representation. I’ve heard that somewhere...hmmm.

This is where is gets interesting.  They vote by party.  So, they don’t necessarily vote for Julia Gillard for Prime Minister per se.  They vote for the Australian Labor Party to lead the government of which Julia Gillard is the leader.  Also, people within each party can challenge at any time.  For example, in 2010, Kevin Rudd was the Prime Minister because he was the leader of the Labor Party.  People within the party didn’t like the direction that Rudd was taking them so Gillard led a challenge one day and the next day was voted the new head of the Labor Party.  Instant Prime Minister!  

Votes can happen at any time too.  For the most part they happen every three years.  Actually, Prime Minister Gillard just announced that the next Federal election will happen on Sept. 14th.  There has never been an election to last that long in history.  The news is freaking out.  Normally, the head calls the election about a month out and then each party puts forth their plans for what they would do if elected.  Then they campaign for a month, vote and move on.  Now they will finish governing and be campaigning at the same time?  This is crazy?!  Also, elections are always held on a Saturday.  This time it falls on Yom Kippur and the middle of the AFL Footy Finals.  Wonder which one most Australians care about more. 

Julia Gillard with her new hipster glasses
Photo Courtesy of 
Australia primarily has two major parties since that’s all anyone ever votes for.  The Australian Labor Party (the only time labor is not spelled ‘labour’ figure that one out!) is the center-left leaning party that is officially linked to the Australian labour movement and is led by Julia Gillard.   The Liberal Party of Australia is the center-right conservative leaning party currently led by Tony Abbott.   Let me get this straight.   The Liberal Party is conservative and the Labor Party is the Social Democracy party.  Yep.  Politics is politics anywhere you go. 

The challenger, Tony Abbott
Photo Courtesy of

So, it’s Julia Gillard vs. Tony Abbott.  But really it’s the Labor party vs. the Liberal/National Coalition party. Let the campaign begin!

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