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Useful Notes / Australia

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"In summer the bushfires rage and rage
And rage and rage on such beautiful days
And we fight them with water that runs through the cracks
Water we're desperately trying to save"
The Cat Empire, "Wine Song"

Does not include New Zealand, because that's its own thing (for now). Its formal name is the Commonwealth of Australia.

Note that, contrary to stereotypes, very few Australians live in the outback, likely due to the continent's hot desert climate. There are several cities, some of which are considered the least environmentally polluted, and most liveable on Earth. Australia's southeast coast (between Sydney in New South Wales, and Adelaide in South Australia) is the most densely populated area of the country. The Indigenous population of Australia, of approximately 727,000 as of last census , is concentrated in the states of Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia. However there are still smaller active Indigenous communities and groups in every state and territory.

Australia is a country of great contrasts; some might say paradoxes. Although large portions of the country are desert, it has examples of almost every possible climate known on Earth; including rainforests, beaches, grasslands, swamps/wetlands, and even alpine areas.


Economically, again we find paradox. The economy is stable (though you probably won't hear that claim very often), and the country has managed to avoid the riots resulting from austerity measures which have plagued Europe in particular, which the right credits big business and mining for, while the left credits Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's economic stimulus for it. On the flip side, international visitors often notice that Australian food, property and energy prices are among the highest on the planet. Ironically, Australia is a major food exporter, producing enough food to feed 60 million people, and exports minerals and energy (for example, half the coal Australia produces is consumed locally, the rest is exported). The reason that food and energy prices are so high include:

  • Australian agriculture receives very little, if any, in the way of subsidies. Compare with the EU and the USA.
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  • The Australian dollar was overvalued during the terms of Howard, Rudd and Gillard, causing the prices of Australian goods to remain the same for Australians, but cost more by foreigners' standards - and thanks to a mining slowdown for the last 2 years, the Australian dollar's value is plummeting, bringing Australian food prices within normal levels for a 1st world country.
  • The price of Australian labour is amongst the highest in the world: $19.84 AUD per hour, for a 38 hour work week. Granted, the work week isn't as generous as many EU countries, but the minimum wage is the equivalent to $13.56 USD per hour, at purchasing power parity, which Australia has a relatively low level of.
  • Energy is expensive despite more than enough Coal or Uranium for everyone because a very strong Anti-Nuclear sentiment in Australia prevents the construction of nuclear power plants, a strong opposition to further coal power plants also exists, and renewable energy projects have slowed under the Federal Liberal government elected in 2013.
  • Most of all, Australians will complain of petrol (what Americans call "gas") prices being too high, which results from Australia being oil-poor - Australia needs to import 75% of its oil needs. The petrol is lightly taxed, however, and thus is not as expensive as in much of the EU.

Socially, the country is extremely diverse. Multiculturalism was declared an official policy in the 1970s. Some indications of the country's diverse population being reflected in the broader society have occurred. For example, in 2013, a Bosnian Muslim MP became the Parliamentary Secretary to the bilingual Prime Ministernote , while the ruling party's leader in the Senate was a lesbian of Malaysian Chinese descent.note  The Federal Election later that year resulted in a notoriously conservative government and a Cabinet which went backwards to only one woman. The concept of multiculturalism remains solidly entrenched in Australia's self-perception. However, diversity and equality are fiercely fought over politically, so that arguments over what is "going too far" or "a step back" allow for flexibility in how seriously the nation takes tolerance. Australia is a young nation, and its national identity is still in its infancy.

Places in Australia:

Australian Attitudes

Australian companies:

See also:

  • Awesome Aussie
  • Boxing Kangaroo
  • The British Empire
  • British Honours: List of creators that have received national awards from British royal families through the Commonwealth.
  • The Common Law, the legal system inherited from The British Empire
  • Hollywood Dreamtime, where the Australian Aboriginal concept "the Dreamtime" is portrayed inaccurately in fiction.
  • Kangaroos Represent Australia
  • Land Down Under, for Australia as it appears in fiction
  • Old British Money was the basis for Australia's old currency with Australian pounds, shillings and so forth. Australia decimalised and adapted the dollar in 1966, but the old currency is used in period pieces like Phryne Fisher.
  • Sentenced to Down Under
  • Shiny New Australia
  • Unit Confusion (Australia switched from Imperial to Metric in the 1960s rapidly and it worked fairly well - only the older Australians will still use Imperial, and only for estimates. Inches and feet still tend to be used for peoples' heights, somewhat interchangeably with metric, because it's easier to say "five foot seven" than "one-hundred and seventy centimetres" or "one point seven metres". While most people know roughly what a foot and an inch are, nobody uses miles except metaphorically.
    • It's amazing how often police reports give an unidentified suspect's height as 183 cm. That's six feet, to the nearest centimetre.
    • For some reason, many Australians know food-related imperial measurements (ounces, pounds, and fluid ounces and pints) but won't generally use those measurements.

The Australian flag

First adopted in 1901 and finalized in 1954, the Australian flag is based on the "blue ensign", bearing the Union Jack at the canton, signifying ties with Britain. Directly below it is the white Commonwealth Star, whose seven points allude to the original six states — New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia — and any future territory (Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, as of present). At the fly side is a rendition of Crux Australis, one of the most notable constellations visible on Australia, whose four main stars are seven-pointed, while the smaller fifth star is five-pointed.


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