The world of democratic Australian politics. Australia is a constitutional monarchy, not a republic. The British monarch officially is the person with the most
power in Australia. Official is not actual. The real power player is the Australian prime minister, currently Kevin Rudd. Rudd gets to choose a governor-general, who represents the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, within Australia. John Howard is the second longest running prime minister, after Sir Robert Menzies. There are two upper tier political parties in Australia,
the Labor Party and the Liberal Party. The National Party pals up with the other two on the national level to form a coalition for running the government. The National Party plays a much
larger role on the state level, particularly in Queensland.
"Australia is much the same as any other
democratic country. Leaders get voted in, take credit for things they
didn't do, blame others for the things they did, and eventually get voted out to
retire in comfort on an overgenerous pension and a 7-figure advance for their
Doug Knell, Doug's Republic
The U.S. President, ostensibly the most powerful man in the world
collects a salary of USD 400,000/year. He probably shouldn't get paid a
cent, because of all the perks and benefits and private sector power jobs he's
eligible for after he leaves office. The Australian prime minister,
a man about as powerful in the world as a set of Energizer AA batteries,
currently gets paid AUD 330,300, and no one outside Australia even knows who he
is. It's a nice gig if you can get it. As the leader of
Australia, you don't have to worry about getting assassinated and having
fundamentalist Islamic terrorists burn you in effigy.
The quarter of a million dollar men
The Australian Political
borrowed its political system predominantly from two countries: the United Kingdom and
the United States. It's as if the country is a hybrid of the two.
Look at the money. The coins have Queen Elizabeth II of the United
Kingdom upon them, but they're called dollars. The
governmental body is called the Parliament, borrowed from the UK, but
it's a bicameral parliament composed of the House of Representatives and
the Senate, borrowed from the USA.
The Aussie House of Representatives has 150 members, elected for 3-year
terms. The Aussie Senate has 76 members, each serving 6-year
terms except for the territorial senators (Northern Territory,
Australian Capital Territory) who serve 3-year terms.
The coalition controlling the Aussie House runs the government.
The Prime Minister of Australia is the leader of the party (or coalition
of parties) that control the Aussie House. In this regard, the
system is very much like UK's. The British prime minister,
like the Australian one, doesn't get selected by the voters. The
voters just select their representatives, and the representatives decide
who the leader of their party is. So if the Australian prime
minister has, say, a sex scandal with a chubby intern, like Bill Clinton
did, he cannot be impeached. Only his own party can question if
the intern was good-looking and worthy of a sex scandal and if the prime
minister deserves to be removed as leader of his party or congratulated
for a pickup well done.
It's always time
for a party in Australia
Australia could be best described as a two-and-a-half party state.
Two parties, the Liberal and Labor, dominate, with the National Party
stepping in to grab its half of the spoils. As in all
countries, one party -- in this case, the Liberal -- assumes the stance
of representing the business owners, the corporations, the moneyed
elites. This would be the equivalent of the Republicans in the
United States or the Conservatives in the UK. The other, Labor,
presumes to stand for the interests of Arnold Average, a cousin to the
Democrats in the USA and Labour in the UK. The truth is that
both the main Australian parties are being paid out of the same
corporate money bowl.
The National Party plays a unique role. It knows the government
will be run by either Labor or the Liberals and steps in to push the
balance. On the national level, it forms a coalition with one of
the other two parties who will wind up running the government. On
the state level, the National Party can play more of a mover & shaker
role. In Queensland, the National Party rocks with the best of
them. It's quite possible in state elections that a National Party
candidate will actually win a position and be able to collect kickbacks
just as sizeable as a candidate from the Liberal and Labor parties.
Bald and short John Howard was the prime minister of Australia until the
end of 2007, ending 11 years of sweet times in power. Don't cry
for him. George Bush gave him a US Freedom Medal just before, he,
Bush, left office. The Howard Liberal/National government gave way
to a Labor government run by the taller and hairier Kevin Rudd.
Elections must be held at least once every three years. The Prime
Minister can ask the Governor-General (see below) to call an election in
the Aussie House anytime he pleases, similar in that respect to the
British system. One of the Prime Minister's unspoken
responsibilities is to call the election at the most opportune moment
for his party. The prime minister wouldn't, for example, get
embroiled in a devastating sex scandal with a chubby intern and then immediately decide to
call a fresh election unless he was ecstatic to get his party booted out
The Australian Governor-General
Australia is not a republic.
It's a constitutional monarchy in the British
Commonwealth, known by its full name as the Commonwealth of
Australia. The official numero uno Down Under
the monarch of the United Kingdom, currently Queen
Elizabeth II. Actually, the plumbers union
probably has more real power today than the British
monarch If the plumbers collectively stopped
unclogging Australian toilets, it would wreak more
havoc in Australia than the British monarch deciding
to divest herself of Australia.
Everyone knows it's a game. Do you
really think China and Taiwan, deep down, believe
they're one and the same country? Yeah, about
as much as Australians believe the British queen, as
Queen of Australia, has a say about decisions made
Down Under. All the same, because this
game is being played, someone has to stand in
for the British monarch on a day-to-day basis.
This person is the Australian governor-general.
Before 1965, all the governor-generals, apart from
two, were British. If you really want to
be finicky about it, these two exceptions were
still British citizens because a unique Australian
citizenship didn't exist until 1949. Up until
the Sixties, the British government did have some
say who held the job. That ship has long since
sailed. All governor-generals since have been
Australian and selected by the Australian prime
minister, who must then get his choice approved (=
rubberstamped) by the British monarch.
The Governor-Generalship is a sweetheart deal, the
best deal going in Australian politics.
It's a largely ceremonial role which pays AUD
394,000 per year, more than prime minister earns.
Up until 2001, the governor-generals didn't even
have to pay tax on that payday. The
already ultra-rich British queen put an end to that
tea party when she agreed to finally pay taxes.
As tempting as it would've been for any
governor-general to give the British queen the
finger after that change, doing so would only be
biting the hand that feeds you. You see, if
you told the queen to go to hell, Australia doesn't
need her and is quite fine without her, then you're
out of a job as governor-general, as the
governor-general is the British monarch's
image within Australia. You'd be doing the
equivalent of telling yourself to go to hell.
The Australian taxpayer will get bilked any which
way the cake is cut. If Australia finally
becomes a republic, the governor-general role will
just become known as a president, and the salary
will probably go up even more. When have you
heard of politicians ever getting a reduction in
salary? The taxpayer will also have to pay to
get rid of all the coins with the queen's young face
on them and re-mint new ones with a wombat's
derriere or a dingo pissing. Australia
may as well remain a constitutional monarchy.
Australian politics isn't very
complicated. It's a constitutional
monarchy. The prime minister is the guy who runs the show. He's
the head of the party dominating the Australian House of
current prime minister is Kevin Rudd, who
took over from John Howard after 11 years in power. Bob Hawke
was the hirsute prime minister in power during the
Reagan-Thatcher years. Two political
parties dominate the landscape. There's the Labor Party and the
Liberal Party. The National Party has a lot of power on the
state level and forms coalitions with Labor and Liberal on the
national level. The governor-general of Australia is the British
monarch's representative in Australia. Does the governor-general
really represent Queen Elizabeth II? No one really cares