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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.


 Australian Politics


"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 memoirs."  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
 Politics in Australia
The Australian Political System

Australia has 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.

Australian Liberal Party Australian Labor Party Australian National Party
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 of office.political parties of Australia

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 isAustralian governor-general 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. 





 

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Voltaire Brown's Don't Travel Europe

 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 Representatives. The 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 anymore