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Australia Government
Capital:
Canberra
Country name:
conventional long form: Commonwealth of Australia
conventional short form: Australia
Government type:
democratic, federal-state system recognizing the British monarch as sovereign
Administrative divisions:
6 states and 2 territories*; Australian Capital Territory*, New South Wales, Northern Territory*, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia
Dependent areas:
Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Coral Sea Islands, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, Norfolk Island
Independence:
1 January 1901 (federation of UK colonies)
Constitution:
9 July 1900, effective 1 January 1901
Legal system:
based on English common law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch:
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 John Winston HOWARD (since 11 March 1996); Deputy Prime Minister John ANDERSON (since 20 July 1999)
cabinet: Parliament nominates and selects, from among its members, a list of candidates to serve as government ministers; from this list, the governor general swears in the final selections for the Cabinet
elections: none; 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
note: government coalition - Liberal Party and National Party
Legislative branch:
bicameral Federal Parliament consists of the Senate (76 seats - 12 from each of the six states and two from each of the two mainland territories; one-half of the members elected every three years by popular vote to serve six-year terms) and the House of Representatives (150 seats - this is up from 148 seats in 2001 election; members elected by popular vote on the basis of preferential representation to serve three-year terms; no state can have fewer than five representatives)
elections: Senate - last held 10 November 2001 (next to be held not later than 16 April 2005); House of Representatives - last held 10 November 2001 (next to be held not later than 16 April 2005)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Liberal Party-National Party coalition 34, Australian Labor Party 28, Australian Democrats 7, Green Party 2, One Nation Party 1, Country Liberal Party 1, independent 3; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Liberal Party-National Party coalition 81, Australian Labor Party 64, Green Party 1, Country Liberal Party 1, independent and other 3
Judicial branch:
High Court (the chief justice and six other justices are appointed by the governor general)
International organization participation:
ANZUS, APEC, ARF, AsDB, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, C, CP, EBRD, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, NAM (guest), NEA, NSG, OECD, OPCW, Paris Club, PCA, PIF, Sparteca, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNMEE, UNMISET, UNTSO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Michael J. THAWLEY
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco
FAX: [1] (202) 797-3168
telephone: [1] (202) 797-3000
chancery: 1601 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador J. Thomas SCHIEFFER
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:
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 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; the remaining 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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