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Australia:
Government

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Country name
Definition
conventional long form: Commonwealth of Australia
conventional short form: Australia
Government type
Definition
federal parliamentary democracy
Capital
Definition
name: Canberra
geographic coordinates: 35 17 S, 149 13 E
time difference: UTC+10 (15 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in October; ends last Sunday in March
note: Australia is divided into three time zones
Administrative divisions
Definition
6 states and 2 territories*; Australian Capital Territory*, New South Wales, Northern Territory*, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia
Dependent areas
Definition
Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Coral Sea Islands, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, Norfolk Island, Macquarie Island
Independence
Definition
1 January 1901 (federation of UK colonies)
National holiday
Definition
Australia Day, 26 January (1788); ANZAC Day (commemorated as the anniversary of the landing of troops of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War I at Gallipoli, Turkey), 25 April (1915)
Constitution
Definition
9 July 1900, effective 1 January 1901
Legal system
Definition
based on English common law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
Suffrage
Definition
18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch
Definition
chief of state: Queen of Australia ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Michael JEFFERY (since 11 August 2003)
head of government: Prime Minister Kevin RUDD (since 3 December 2007); Deputy Prime Minister Julia GILLARD (since 3 December 2007)
cabinet: prime minister nominates, from among members of Parliament, candidates who are subsequently sworn in by the governor general to serve as government ministers
elections: the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the prime minister; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition is sworn in as prime minister by the governor general
Legislative branch
Definition
bicameral Federal Parliament consists of the Senate (76 seats; 12 members from each of the six states and 2 from each of the two mainland territories; one-half of state members are elected every three years by popular vote to serve six-year terms while all territory members are elected every three years) and the House of Representatives (150 seats; members elected by popular preferential vote to serve terms of up to three-years; no state can have fewer than 5 representatives)
elections: Senate - last held 24 November 2007 (next to be held no later than 2010); House of Representatives - last held 24 November 2007 (next to be called no later than 2010)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Liberal Party-National Party coalition 37, Australian Labor Party 32, Australian Greens 5, Family First Party 1, other 1; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Australian Labor Party 83, Liberal Party 55, National Party 10, independents 2
Judicial branch
Definition
High Court (the chief justice and six other justices are appointed by the governor general)
Political parties and leaders
Definition
Australian Democrats [Lyn ALLISON]; Australian Greens [Bob BROWN]; Australian Labor Party [Kevin RUDD]; Country Liberal Party [Jodeen CARNEY]; Family First Party [Steve FIELDING]; Liberal Party [Brendan NELSON]; The Nationals [Warren TRUSS]
Political pressure groups and leaders
Definition
other: business groups; enviromental groups; social groups; trade unions
International organization participation
Definition
ADB, ANZUS, APEC, ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, C, CP, EAS, EBRD, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IEA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM (guest), NEA, NSG, OECD, OPCW, Paris Club, PCA, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNFICYP, UNHCR, UNMIS, UNMIT, UNRWA, UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US
Definition
chief of mission: Ambassador Dennis J. RICHARDSON
chancery: 1601 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 797-3000
FAX: [1] (202) 797-3168
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the US
Definition
chief of mission: Ambassador Robert D. McCALLUM, Jr.
embassy: Moonah Place, Yarralumla, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2600
mailing address: APO AP 96549
telephone: [61] (02) 6214-5600
FAX: [61] (02) 6214-5970
consulate(s) general: Melbourne, Perth, Sydney
Flag description
Definition
blue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and a large seven-pointed star in the lower hoist-side quadrant known as the Commonwealth or Federation Star, representing the federation of the colonies of Australia in 1901; the star depicts one point for each of the six original states and one representing all of Australia's internal and external territories; on the fly half is a representation of the Southern Cross constellation in white with one small five-pointed star and four larger, seven-pointed stars


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