Australia

The Commonwealth of Australia

The flag has three elements on a blue background: the Union Jack (history of British settlement), the Commonwealth Star (the unity of the six states and the territories and any other future states of Australia), and the Southern Cross (a constellation of five stars that can only be seen from the southern hemisphere, a reminder of the geography).

We have it all in Australia, or officially known as the Commonwealth of Australia. Australia is a continent with its own tectonic plate, a country with an unparalleled population density of 3.25 people/km², and a massive island with spectacular scenery. Australia is situated entirely in the southern hemisphere, between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. With an area of 7,617,930 km², Australia is almost as large as America, making it the smallest continent but the sixth largest country.

Australia's capital is Canberra. Canberra literally means "woman's cleavage" in Aborigine. It's named this because Canberra is cradled between two mountains.

Quick Geography

Australia is the lowest, flattest, and oldest landmass on Earth, with its highest peak is Mount Kosciuszko at only 2,228 m (which is quite low compared to the other mountains in other continents).

As mentioned previously, Australia is on the middle of a tectonic plate, therefore having no active volcanism. Due to its latitude, the Great Dividing Range, the currents, and winds, Australia has desert climates, savanna climates, semi-arid climates, Mediterranean climates, a humid subtropical, and oceanic climate.

And because of the Great Dividing Range and how it effects rainfall, most sheep are herded on the west of the Range, and cattle to the east. (Fun fact: There are more sheep than human beings in Australia.)

The Great Barrier Reef, by far the world's largest coral reef, lies a short distance off the north-east coast.

10 Useless Facts

1) Australia is the least populated continent, and 4 out of 5 people of whatever they have live near the coast

2) Australia has the world’s longest golf course, which measures more than 1368 meters long

3) The largest cattle station in the world is located in Australia and it's bigger than Israel (take that Israel)

4) Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke set a world record for sculling 1.2 liters of beer in under 11 seconds (when you're the prime minister, but you wanna make a mark on the history books too)

5) There are 1 million camels that roam wild Australia's Deserts (the largest number of purebred camels in the world. Australia exports them to the Middle East)

6) The wombat has square poo

7) Emus can't walk backwards (neither can kangaroos)

8) Moomba, Australia’s largest free festival held in Melbourne, means "up your butt" in many Aboriginal languages (Australians are vulgar)

9) An Australian man once tried to sell New Zealand on eBay with a starting price of AUD$0.01 (by the way, that's 0.2 dollars in Taiwan)

10) Queen Elizabeth II once fired the entire Australian government

bonus! The fingerprints of a koala are so similar to humans that they have on occasion been confused at a crime scene (what kind of crime scene has both?!?)

The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Larger than the Great Wall of China, it's the only living thing visible from space. With the world's largest coral reef ecosystem, the Reef stretches over 14 degrees of latitude, and ranging from shallow areas to deep waters. With this vast extension, the Great Barrier Reef holds an unique range of habitats and species, all of which make the Reef one of the most complex ecosystems in the world. It consists of more than 3000 coral reefs, 600 continental islands, 300 coral cays and about 150 inshore mangrove islands, with an average depth of more than 2000 meters. This intricate structure makes it a home for not only the coral reefs, but also a huge number of animals and plants. Some of them, like the turtles and crocodiles, have been around since prehistoric times and have change little since.

The Sydney Opera House

"The Sydney Opera House is a multi-venue performing arts centre on Sydney Harbour located in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It is one of the 20th century's most famous and distinctive buildings," says Wikipedia. But did you know one of the most famous buildings in the world was inspired by an orange?

No, seriously. If all the sails of the Sydney Opera House were put together, they would create a sphere. Jørn Utzon (the architect) said he got the idea while he was peeling an orange. What's more, his design was initially rejected by three of the judges in the competition. Utzon got lucky when the fourth judge, renowned American architect Eero Saarinen, declared it "outstanding" and picked it out. Jørn Utzon ended up beating 232 other people to secure the job.

Mt. Nelson Lookout

Tasmania is an island state, and the smallest state in Australia. But there is nothing small about Tasmania when it comes to impressive landmarks as it contains some of the most spectacular mountain, lake, and coastal scenery in the country. Mt. Nelson Lookout is more than just an observation deck, providing breathtaking views without the snow of the region's higher points. The Lookout offers a great place to view the Aurora Australis, or the Southern Lights.

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Uluru

At 348 meters tall, Uluru is taller than the Eiffel Tower. But it's also 3.6 kilometers long and 1.9 kilometers wide, with a total circumference of 9.4 kilometers. It takes 3.5 hours to walk around it's base (I'd advise to attempt in the early morning before it gets really hot). But you can't climb up it. The local Anangu people seen as the owners in 1985. They now lease the land to the Australian government and work in partnership with Parks Australia to manage the area. They have always asked that visitors do not climb the rock out of respect for their culture (the last people who climbed it in 2019 were officially banned, and the chain guide tied to rock was removed) (oh, but Prince Charles and Princess Diana still climbed it in 1983). Anyways, the Uluru looks big, but it's even bigger with more under the ground. Beneath the surface, it extends at least another 2.5 kilometers. What's more is that the Uluru hosts over 400 plants species. Many animals also call the area home, including 21 species of mammals such as dingoes, red kangaroos and the spinifex hopping mouse.

Government

Long story short: Australia's political system is both a representative democracy (people vote) and a constitutional monarchy (the queen's power is limited by the constitution). Australia's head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, represented by a Governor-General. Head of government and leader of the Cabinet is the Prime Minister.

The Australian government combines the political systems of both the United Kingdoms and the United States, along with some distinctive indigenous features. The federal government is split into three branches:

  • Legislature: the bicameral Parliament (a two-house legislative system), made up of the monarch (represented by the governor-general), the Senate (voting), and the House of Representatives.

  • Executive: the Federal Executive Council, which gives legal effect to the decisions of the cabinet, comprising the prime minister and other ministers of state (appointed by the governor-general on the advice of the Parliament).

  • Judiciary: the High Court of Australia and other federal courts (judges are appointed by the governor-general on advice of Parliament).

has his own website, click on his name to go visit it! He has the nickname ScoMo. His website also had a horrifying Photoshop job that gave him two left feet. Literally. (click on me to go to tweet) He has some hilarious memes. And as far as I can tell, people don't think he's doing a good job.

Scott Morrison is the current Prime Minister of Australia (since 2018), making him the head of government and the most powerful person in the Australian Parliament. The Prime minister is formally appointed by the governor-general, and to become one, a politician should be able to "command the confidence" of the House. So, the prime minister is usually a leader of a major party (ScoMo is Liberal). PMs don't have a set duration or term limit, but their term generally ends when their party loses a federal election or they lose leadership in their party.

is not his real name, it's Robert James Lee Hawke. Yes, he is the dude who holds the world record for sculling beer (Hawke later said this was the reason to his great political success). He died in 2019 at age 89. He also has some... colorful quotes, click on his name to read.

On a serious note, though, Mr. Bob Hawke was an outstanding Prime Minister from 1983 to 1991. As a member of the Labor Party, Hawke achieved industrial harmony by instituting a unified wage accord among Australia’s fractious labour unions. He also managed to lower the rate of inflation, and maintained close relations with the United States.

Thirty people have served as PMs. Honorable mentions:

  • The first - Edmund Barton (January 1st, 1901)

  • The longest-serving - Robert Menzies (served over 18 years, 1939 to 1941 and 1949 to 1966)

  • The shortest-serving - Frank Forde (served one week)

Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth

is 95 years old. Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor likes wearing colorful clothes and is also a trained mechanic.

Although the Queen is a constituent part of the Parliament, the Constitution immediately provides that she have a governor-general to be her representative. The Queen’s role is little more than titular, as the legislative and executive powers and functions of the head of state are vested in the governor-general by virtue of the Constitution. However, while in Australia, she is able to undertake some of the ceremonial roles of the Sovereign. For example, in 1954 the Queen opened Parliament in Canberra for the first time. The Queen supports public service through her patronage of a large number of Australian organisations. During her visits to Australia, one of the Queen's most important jobs is to visit as many areas of society as possible.

His Excellency General the Honorable David John Hurley

is very boring, he has no tea.

As Governor-General (since 2019), David Hurley is the representative of the monarch in Australia. The governor-general is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the prime minister, and has presidency over the Federal Executive Council and is commander-in-chief of the Australian Defense Force. David has to appoint ministers, judges, and ambassadors; give royal assent to laws, issue writs for election, and give Australian honors. David also has to maintain political neutrality and almost-always acts only on the advice of the minister/s. David also has a ceremonial role: hosting events and travelling throughout Australia to conferences, attend services, and provide encouragement to individuals and group. A governor-general is not appointed for a specific term, but is generally expected to serve for five years. Governors-generals have (during their term) the style His/Her Excellency the Honorable. For a former governor-general, just the Honorable. Only one governor-general, Dame Quentin Bryce (2008 to 2014), has been a woman.

Australia is a free country.

Overall, Australia has a very strong record of advancing and protecting civil liberties and political rights.

However, Australia faces challenges like the threat of foreign political influence, harsh policies toward asylum seekers, difficulties ensuring the equal rights of the First Nation Australians, discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community, and strict checks against the press.

Economy

Being one of the oldest pieces of land, Australia holds an abundant amount of natural resources. Australia's natural wealth comes from its vast amounts of coal, timber, coal, copper and iron ore, owning 17% of the world's iron ore supply, the second most of any nation. Its most valuable, however, is timber, holding 12.3% of the world's timber supply. Australia has the tenth-highest total estimated value of natural resources, valued at US$19.9 trillion in 2019

Australia has a highly developed mixed economy, crowned the 12th-largest national economy by nominal GDP (gross domestic product), the 18th-largest by PPP-adjusted (purchasing power parity) GDP, the 25th-largest goods exporter, and 20th-largest goods importer. (Yay Australia!) In the March 2017 financial quarter, Australia took the record for the longest run of uninterrupted GDP growth in the developed world. As of June 2021, the country's GDP is estimated at AUD$1.98 trillion.

Australia's economy is strongly tied with countries of East and Southeast Asia (ASEAN), with China as the country's main export and import partner by far. Australia is a member of the APEC, G20, OECD and WTO. They've also have free trade agreements with ASEAN, Canada, Chile, China, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Japan, Singapore, Thailand and the United States.

In September 2020, due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia's economy had gone into recession for the first time in almost thirty years, falling 7% in the June 2020 quarter, followed by a 0.3% drop in the March quarter. Fortunately, it ended at the beginning of December 2020

With the economic freedom score of 82.4, Australia has the third freest economy among the 40 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Its overall score is also above the world averages. And Australia has held up as a leader in the economic freedom ever since 1995 with its economy being one of the freest for the past 15 years.

Tourism

Tourism plays an important role in the Australian economy as it's fourth largest exporting industry. Accounting for 8.2% of Australia's export earnings, and consisting of both domestic and international components. Domestic tourism is a significant part of the tourism industry, representing well over half of the direct tourism GDP. In 2019, there were more than 1.4 billion international travelers globally, spending US$1.5 trillion. And although the COVID-19 pandemic impacted international tourism as Australia closed its borders, relatively low levels of cases in some parts of the country meant that domestic travel was still possible. In the financial year 2018–19, Australia generated $60.8 billion in direct tourism GDP, representing a growth of 3.5% over the previous year (that's faster than the national GDP growth!). Tourism also directly employed 666,000 Australians, making up 5% of Australia’s workforce.

Australia is currently one of the highest yielding destinations in the world. Popular Australian destinations include the coastal cities of Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, as well as other high-profile destinations, the Gold Coast, and the Great Barrier Reef. Uluru and the Australian outback are other popular locations, as is the Tasmanian wilderness. The unique Australian wildlife is also another significant point of interest in the country's tourism.

agriculture

Australia’s northern coast is tropical, and is used for dairy and beef production. The country’s southern region has a Mediterranean climate, where cereals, oilseeds, and legumes are mainly produced. This area is also a major wine-producing region. Australia’s interior is mainly desert, surrounded by more temperate grasslands. Sheep ranching is common in grassland areas that flank the desert’s eastern and western edges. Australia is the world’s largest exporter of wool.

mining

Because of how old Australia is, Australia holds an ample amount of natural minerals, being the world’s largest producer of opal and the world’s largest exporter of coal. Australia is also one of the top producers of iron ore, nickel, gold, uranium, diamonds, and zinc.

Oil is relatively low throughout Australia and the country only has 0.1% of the world’s total oil reserves, importing more than exporting. However, natural gas is an important resource for Australia. They have almost 44 times more natural gas than they consume in a year (meaning it has about 44 years of natural gas left to use).

forestry

Forestry is an important economic activity in Australia, with its main forest products being sawn wood, wood-based panels, paper, and wood chips. Australia’s forest industry has benefited from the development of tree plantations, which yield up to 14 times more wood per hectare than native forests. These plantations now provide more than two-thirds of the logs in Australia. Fast-growing trees like eucalyptus and Monterey pine dominate these plantations.

Culture

The culture of Australia is mainly a Western culture, based on Britain but also influenced by the unique geography of Australia, the cultural input of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and other Australian people. Australia is a country with a diverse migrant population and over 120 faiths, yet Australia has traditionally been a majority Christian country. In the most recent 2016 Australian census (which asks questions like how many people live or stay in each home, their sex, age and race etc) just over half of the people identified as some sort of Christianity. The fastest growing "religion" in Australia is "no religion", with 30.1% of the population in the 2016 census.

Despite its many immigrants, Australia also consists of the Indigenous Australians, offering 3.3% of Australia's population. Indigenous Australians are people with familial heritage to groups that lived in Australia before British colonization. Including the Aboriginal (all indigenous people excluding the Torres Strait Islander peoples) and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia. These people would prefer you call them First Nations of Australia, First Peoples of Australia. First Australians are also increasingly common and welcome.

indigenous australians

Aboriginal people have lived on the continent of Australia for tens of thousands of years. Indigenous people of the Torres Strait Islands, however, are not identified as Aboriginal. The more inclusive term Indigenous Australians is used for all of them. Indigenous Australians comprise 3.3% of Australia's population, with 91% of them identifying as Aboriginal, 5% as Torres Strait Islander, and 4% both. Most of the Indigenous peoples speak English with aboriginal phrases and words being added to create a language known as the Australia Aboriginal English.

Quite some Aboriginal people, especially those living in remote areas, are multi-lingual. Many of the original languages (more than 250 languages and about 800 dialectal varieties) are endangered or extinct, although efforts are being made at language revival for some. As of 2016, only 13 traditional Indigenous languages are still being learned, and another 100 spoken only by the older generation.

their practices

The cultures, beliefs and customs of the Indigenous Australians vary among the different groups and each are unique.

At the time of British settlement, the Aboriginal Australians had their own religious traditions of "the Dreaming" or "the Dreamtime". This goes back to when the creator ancestors traveled Australia and named things as they went. Their tradition and values are based upon reverence for the land and a belief in this "Dreamtime". The Dreaming is both the ancient time of creation and the present-day reality of Dreaming. Different language and groups have their own belief structures, each overlapping to greater or lesser, and evolved over time. Knowledge contained in the Dreaming has been passed down through different stories, songs, dances and ceremonies.

Torres Strait Islander people have their own traditional belief systems. Stories of the Tagai represent Torres Strait Islanders as sea people, with a connection to the stars, as well as a system of order were everything has its place in the world. Some Torres Strait Islander people share beliefs similar to the Aboriginal peoples' Dreaming and "Everywhen" concepts.

vegemite

Although the ingredients are much debated over, Vegemite is made from yeast extract (allegedly), and is as Australian food as it gets. Most Aussies eat it for breakfast with simple instructions as the following: toast white toast, spread on of butter, and top off lightly with Vegemite. Key word: lightly. And DO NOT EAT PLAIN!

moomba festival

There are plenty of festivals in Australia, but the Moomba Festival, held annually in Melbourne, is Australia's largest free community festival. This tradition is celebrated over four days, incorporating the Labor Day long weekend, from Friday to the second Monday in March. The Moomba Festival is culturally important to Melbourne, celebrated since 1955, and attracts millions of people. Events include the Moomba parade, the crowning of Moomba monarchs, fireworks, carnivals along the river, river activities including water sports, water floats, the Birdman Rally, as well as live music and bands.

Missions

  1. I would like to run as president of the JN at least once this year.

  2. Turn in at least 3 current event sheets.