Geography of Australia Location: Australia and Oceania, continentbetween the Indian Ocean and the South PacificOcean Area: Total: 7,741,220 sq km Country comparison to the world: 6 Land: 7,682,300 sq km Water: 58,920 sq km note: includes Lord Howe Island and MacquarieIsland Area – comparative: Slightly smaller than theU.S. contiguous 48 states Land boundaries: 0 km Coastline: 25,760 km
Religion in Australia In the 21st century, religion in Australia is mainlyChristian. In the 2011 census, 61.14% of Australia’s populationwas recorded as following Christianity. Historically, the percentage has been a lot higher andthe religious landscape of Australia isexpanding, together with multicultural immigrationand 22.3% of people without a religious affiliation. 22.3% of Australians responded “no religion” in the2011 census; a further 8.55% declined to answer. The remaining population is a varied group whichincludes Buddhist (2.46%), Islamic (2.21%), Hindu(1.28%), and Jewish (0.45%) communities. The 1901 Constitution of Australia forbids theCommonwealth government from establishing achurch or intervening with freedom of religion.
Religion statistics (2006 census) Protestant 27.4% (Anglican 18.7%, Uniting Church5.7%, Presbyterian and Reformed 3%) Catholic 25.8% Eastern Orthodox 2.7% Other Christian 7.9% Buddhist 2.1% Muslim 1.7% Other 2.4% Unspecified 11.3% None 18.7% (2006 census)
Australia’s political system: Introduction The politics of Australia function within the structure of a federal constitutional parliamentarydemocracy and constitutional monarchy. The people of Australia elect parliamentarians (MPs) to Australia’s federal parliament, a bicameralbody which integrates characteristics of the fused executive inherited from the Westminstersystem, and a strong federalist senate, taken from the United States Congress. Australia functions mostly as a two-party system where voting is obligatory.
Australia’s political system: Government Capital: Canberra Largest city: Sydney Official languages: None National language: English (de facto) Demonym: Australian, “Aussie” Government: Federal parliamentaryconstitutional monarchy Monarch: Elizabeth II (see Politics of theUnited Kingdom slide 13 for information) Governor-General: Quentin Bryce Prime Minister: Julia Gillard Legislature: Parliament Upper house: Senate Lower house: House of Representatives
Australia’s political system: Federalparliamentary parties Australian Labor Party (ALP) Liberal Party of Australia (Lib) National Party of Australia (Nat.) Australian Greens (GRN) Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) Democratic Labor Party (DLP)
Quentin Bryce Born in Brisbane, Queensland on 23 December 1942. 25th and current Governor-General of Australia (and the first woman tooccupy the post) since 5 September 2008, having formerly served asGovernor of Queensland. Spent her early years in Ilfracombe; her family later lived in a numberof country towns around Australia. Attended the University of Queensland, where she earned a Bachelorof Arts and a Bachelor of Laws; became one of the first womenadmitted to the Queensland bar. Became the first woman, in 1968, to be a faculty member of the lawschool where she studied. Joined the new National Women’s Advisory Council in 1978; this wasfollowed by various positions: first director of the QueenslandWomen’s Information Service, Queensland director of the HumanRights and Equal Opportunity Commission, and the Federal SexDiscrimination Commissioner in 1988. Her contributions to the community led to her nomination as an Officerof the Order of Australia in 1988, and as a Companion of the Order ofAustralia, and Dame of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in 2003. Was invested by the Queen of Australia as a Commander of the RoyalVictorian Order (CVO) as the Government House in Canberra on 26October 2011. Was nominated the Governor of Queensland in 2003. Despite some concerns were brought up during her tenure in that post,her term was to be extended to 2009, but on 13 April 2008, before theinitial five years were up, it was announced that she was to becomeAustralia’s next Governor-General; this decision was mostlyresponded to positively and on 5 September 2008, she was sworn in,succeeding Major General Michael Jeffery, making her the first womanGovernor-General.
Julia Gillard Born 29 September 1961 in Barry, Wales. 27th and current PM of Australia and leader of the Australian LaborParty since 24 June 2010; is the first woman to occupy either post. Migrated with her family to Adelaide, South Australia, in 1966;attended Mitcham Demonstration School and Unley High School. Moved to Melbourne, Victoria in 1982; graduated from the University ofMelbourne with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws in 1986. Joined the law firm Slater & Gordon in 1987; specialised in industriallaw before she entered political life. Was first elected to the Australian House of Representatives in the1998 federal election for the seat of Lalor, Victoria. Was elected to the Shadow Cabinet after the 2001 federal election;was assigned the portfolio of Population and Immigration. Undertook on the duty for both Reconciliation and Indigenous Affairsand Health in 2003. When Kevin Rudd was elected as Labor Leader and became Leaderof the Opposition in December 2006, she was elected unopposed ashis deputy. Became the first female Deputy PM of Australia upon Labor’s victory inthe 2007 federal election; also served as both Minister for Educationand Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. Was elected unopposed as the Leader of the Labor Party on 24 June2010, following Rudd’s loss of support and subsequent resignation;hence became Australias 27th PM. The subsequent 2010 federal election saw the first hungparliament in 70 years. Was additionally able to form a minority government with thebacking of a Green MP and three independent MPs.
Australian Labor Party Also known as ALP and Labor (Labour prior to 1912); left of centre Australianpolitical party. Has ruled the Commonwealth of Australia since the 2007 federal election. Julia Gillard, current PM of Australia, is the party’s federal parliamentary leader. In the state and territory parliaments, it rules in South Australia, Tasmania, andthe Australian Capital Territory. Challenges the Liberal/National Coalition for political office at both the federaland the state (and occasionally local) level. Its constitution states: “The Australian Labor Party is a democratic socialist partyand has the objective of the democratic socialisation ofindustry, production, distribution and exchange, to the extent necessary toeliminate exploitation and other anti-social features in these fields.” This “socialist objective” was introduced in 1921, though it has always beendeeply qualified by wording which makes it evident that Labor advocates privatebelongings. Has been a dead letter since the 1940s, as a consequence of the Chifleygovernment’s failure to nationalise the private banks. Today, Labor classifies itself as “a coalition that includesreformers, radicals, progressives, social democrats and democratic socialistsunited by a critique of the inequalities in society, a commitment to a more justand equal society, and the achieving of this aim by democratic means.” Was founded in 1901 as a federal party before the first sitting of the AustralianParliament, even though it is descended from labour parties founded in thenumerous Australian colonies by the emerging labour movement inAustralia, which officially began in 1891; is therefore Australia’s oldest politicalparty. Colonial labour parties took seats after 1891, and federal seats after theFederation during the 1901 federal election. Was Australia’s first party to accomplish a majority in either of the AustralianParliament’s two houses, during the 1901 federal election. Pre-dates both the British Labour Party and the New Zealand Labour Party inparty establishment, government, and policy completion. Member of Socialist International and Progressive Alliance.