Australian politics. More exciting than a velociraptor tearing into a flock of hyenas, more important than vital, icky surgery. Well, here goes:
Depending on who you ask, Australia became a "country" anywhere from 1854 to 1986.
- 1854 or 1886: The first or last of the colonies became self-governing.
- 1901: The most often-cited date, including by the government itself: on 1 January 1901, the six separate colonies became states and federated to form a single self-governing Commonwealth.
- 1915: Australian troops first went into battle as part of an Australian army.
- 1931 or 1942: With the Statute of Westminster, the Parliament of the UK abolished its nominal right to legislate for Australia and its other Dominions. Of course, this was theoretically self-abrogating, until Australia adopted the Statute as Australian law in 1942.
- 1986: The Australia Act severs the last powers of the UK government over Australia. Namely, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is no longer a part of the Australian judiciary.
Australia's political system is something of a hotchpotch, because when the Constitution was being written, its authors freely pillaged from other working democracies:
- Like the UK, Australian uses the Westminster system. One effect of this is unlike presidential electoral campaigns, citizens only vote (officially) for their local candidate, or (unofficially) for political parties. The head of government is just whoever happens to lead the party that wins. Of course, this doesn't stop people voting based on personal charisma of political leaders.
- Like the US, Australia is a federal system of states plus a few territories, and the federal government has elected upper and lower houses:
- The Senate is the upper house, where each state is represented by twelve senators and the Australian Capital Territory (or ACT) and Northern Territory by two each.
- The House of Representatives is the lower house, for which each state and territory is divided into named divisions (neat, eh?) of roughly equal population, each of which elects one MP.
- Like Switzerland, amending Australia's Constitution requires:
- 1. The amendment to be proposed by parliament, and:
- 2. The Australian people to approve in a referendum, with a majority in the overall population, and in each and every state. Referenda in Australia are notorious for failing, but some have passed - in 1967, an amendment was passed with 90.77% approval to recognise Australian Aborigines as human beings.
- Like many countries, Australia has the judiciary as an important check-and-balance for the government. The High Court of Australia has declared government legislation illegal if it contravenes Australia's legal obligations.
Australia's six states, and, to some extent, two of its territories, have a degree of independence, and have their own parliaments with an upper house (except in Queensland, where they abolished the state-level upper house) and a lower house, which, like the House of Representatives, has a name for each seat.
Leaders and Government
The Prime Minister of Australia is the head of government. They are, as a rule, a sitting MP in the federal House of Representatives and the leader of the majority party in that chamber -- they are in charge of the Cabinet (which consists of Ministers drawn from the House or the Senate) and generally run the whole show. The current Prime Minister is Julia Gillard, who is also our first female PM -- although interestingly, she is not the first atheist  or the first redhead. There is also a Deputy Prime Minister, who is also the deputy leader of the majority party -- although in the case of a coalition government, the deputy prime minister is typically the leader of the smaller coalition party. The Deputy PM is roughly equivalent to the Vice-President of the United States: high visibility but very little actual responsibility, unless they have to step in as Acting PM (in the event of the Prime Minister being overseas, incapacitated or dead). The current Deputy Prime Minister is Wayne Swan.
The Prime Minister also has their own opposite number on the other side of politics: the leader of the second-largest party in the House of Representatives is designated Leader of the Opposition, and is in charge of their own Shadow Cabinet with Shadow Ministers from their own party. This is much less cool than it sounds: the purpose of the Shadow Cabinet is to criticise the real Cabinet, with each Shadow Minister focusing on their opposite number. The current Leader of the Opposition is Tony Abbott. There is also a Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the position of which is currently held by Julie Bishop.
The head of state of Australia is Queen Elizabeth II: her official title in this country is "Queen of Australia", and technically Australia is in personal union with the UK (that is, we are two separate countries which happen to have the same person as our monarch). Australia has probably the largest Republican movement out of the former British colonies, but support for an Australian Republic has dramatically decreased recently, particularly since the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate (everyone loves a good wedding).
In practice, all the responsibilities of the head of state are (and constitutionally, must be: the Queen cannot exercise her powers herself) delegated to the Governor-General of Australia, who is an acting head of state appointed by the Prime Minister for a single five-year term. All the Governor-General normally has to do is officially sign bills into law, although they do have certain emergency powers which have been exercised before -- most notoriously in 1975, when Governor-General John Kerr sacked the Prime Minister and appointed the Opposition Leader in his place.
The Governors-General did not get off to an auspicious start (the first one, Lord Hopetoun, tried to unconstitutionally appoint the then-Premier of New South Wales as caretaker Prime Minister), and were pretty much one boring British peer after another until Sir Isaac Issacs was appointed to the position in 1930: he was both the first Jewish Governor-General, and the first Governor-General to have been actually born in Australia (naturally, Britain was shocked and appalled). The last Governor-General from Britain, William Sidney, ended his term in 1965 -- since then Australia has been generally opposed to appointing non-Australians to the position: there has been one Governor-General who was a member of the Royal Family (Prince Henry, son of George V, immediately after World War II) but when both Prince Charles and Prince William expressed interest in the position (in the 1980s and 2000s respectively) both were told "Um... how about no." The current Governor-General is Quentin Bryce, Australia's first female Governor-General.
As they are based off the same system, each state mirrors the federal government in its structure (except for Queensland, whose parliament is unicameral). The head of a state government is the Premier, and each state also has its own appointed Governor who acts as the Queen's representative for that state.
There are currently five (or so) major political parties, although only the top two are actually worth noting. The current ruling party is the Australian Labor Party. (NB: Australian spell labor "labour" unless it's the Labor party, named the American way from a charming early twentieth-century vogue for 'modernised spelling' -- the disco of its day.) The Party gained power after the Coalition, the alliance between the Australian Liberal Party and the Australian National Party, lost the 2007 election after maintaining power for over a decade (Australian Prime Ministers can stay in power for as long as the public votes their parties in and their parties continue to support them).
- Labor: The Australian Labor Party is Australia's oldest political party, having formed during the 19th century. The ALP began as (and to a degree still is) the political arm of the Australian worker's union movement. Support from union bosses is still an important political commodity within the ALP. Initially, they were relatively strong socialists who advocated the nationalisation of the means of production. They also had a rather brutal split with the catholic Democratic Labor Party in the 1950s, which led to them being out of government for all but three of the next 23 years; then, after a three year government under Gough Whitlam, they returned to opposition. In 1983, they came back into power under Bob Hawke, who would become Australia's third longest serving Prime Minister. They were out of power again from 1996 to 2007, but are currently once again the government. Its support bases are the outer suburbs of the major cities, industrial provincial areas (the Hunter Valley, the Illawarra, and Geelong are the most prominent), and certain gentrified inner-city seats. Their members have a very wide range of political views ranging from Christian Social Conservatism to old-style Socialism to 'third-way' centrism, averaging out to a more or less Centre Left position.
- The Coalition: Made up of two parties: the Liberal Party, the larger and more powerful, and the National Party, the smaller hanger-on. Despite its name, these days the Liberal Party is generally more conservative than Labor (hence creating awkward terminology, such as "small L liberal"), while the National Party is more concerned with rural issues (hence its original name, the "Country Party"). The Liberal Party have historically claimed to be a Classical Liberal party but their actual policy mix now is generally centrist with nods to either Classical Liberalism or Social Conservatism (depending on which will help win elections). The National Party stands for the interests of rural people, which can coincide with porkbarrelling. The Coalition gains much of its support from rural voters and richer suburbs, although in recent years they have gained increasing support in outer suburbs. As with Labor, members of the coalition parties will have a very wide range of political views ranging from Christian Social Conservatism to Classical Liberalism to 'third-way' centrism, averaging out to Centre Right.
- In some regions of Australia the Coalition parties are formally merged into a single party, apparently to present a more coherent political front. There is the Liberal National Party, unique to the state of Queensland, and the Country Liberal Party, unique to the Northern Territory. The latter dates back to before the National Party's name change; the former was established in 2008. It may be noteworthy that Queensland and the Northern Territory were the only places where the National Party was more powerful than the Liberal Party...
The important minor parties include:
- Australian Greens: Essentially like Greens everywhere, the Australian Greens promote the environment, but are also notable for its policies on drugs and immigration. Internationally famous for being one of the few Green parties to exert any meaningful pull at all, they tend to have very strong support in the inner-most city suburbs. Federally, they hold the balance of power in the Australian Senate with nine seats, and also hold one seat in the House of Representatives (whose support is integral to the passage of bills by the current minority government). On a state level the Greens also hold balance of power in the in the Tasmanian and ACT lower houses.
- Family First: A very recent party (founded in 2002), Family First has grown to become a powerful minor party. Although it is technically secular, it is the "Christian" party of Australia, standing for such secular policies as reducing abortion, increased censorship, and thinking of the children. However, they're not exactly Pat Robertsons in
cowboyAkubra hats. Examples include Indigenous issues and immigration policy - in both instances they take a more liberal (not Liberal -- it's confusing) approach and as such line up with the "left," for various reasons (for instance, on the Indigenous issues, quite a lot of Indigenous people are socially-conservative Christians). The real Christian Right is the small but rather persistent Christian Democratic Party under the Reverend Fred Nile, keeps up from his sinecure in the New South Wales Legislative Council.
- Democratic Labor Party: Successor to the original DLP, which was an extremely important third party in the mid-20th century before disbanding. A remnant re-founded the DLP and claimed continuity with the old party, but remained completely unnoticed for about thirty years afterwards. However, in 2006 the DLP inexplicably made a comeback in the Victorian state election, winning one seat on the Legislative Council [i.e. state senate]; then, in the 2010 federal election, they again won a seat in the national senate (on only 2.2% of the primary vote, thanks to preference deals, rather like Family First six years before). Like the original DLP they are socially (far-)right-wing and economically left-wing.
- Australian Sex Party: Assuredly not Exactly What It Says on the Tin. A very new party which has yet to attain any real power but grabs a lot of attention, due to the name. Its official launch was conducted at Sexpo in Melbourne in 2008. The party was initially founded as a double issue party opposed to the Internet filter and for the legalization of gay marriage, an issue that the big parties are burying at present. They're also in favour of compulsory and specifically accurate, non-biased sex education in Australian schools, an R18+ video game category, legalising abortion, making the laws regarding pornography more consistent with other sex related laws, decriminalization of prostitution, creating Federal anti-discrimination laws for employment and (as a Take That to Family First) ending the tax exemption status to religious institutions that are not primarily a charity or some other community aid organisation. Time will tell whether the ASP will go the distance and satisfy the Australian people.
- Liberal Democratic Party: Another very new party which, in the 2010 election, missed out on a seat representing New South Wales in the Federal Senate by 20 000 votes (losing to a Green). Formed in the mid 2000's by economist John Humphreys and allied with the Australian Libertarian Society. Unlike the British party of the same name, the LDP supports both social liberalism (being socially to the left of even the Greens; supporting ending the drug war, demonopolizing the gambling market, and supporting same-sex marriage and freer immigration) and economic liberalism (in the Classical Liberal sense of the term (being economically to the right of the Liberal party); supporting free markets, deregulation of the labor market, ending barriers to international trade). Roughly the Australian equivalent to the Libertarian Party in the United States or the Free Democratic Party in Germany.
- Katter's Australian Party: a very new political party founded by federal MP Bob Katter and his Nice Hat -- the party's positions are heavily based on those of Katter himself, a former Independent from North Queensland well known for his eccentricity. The party is best described as "agrarian socialist", with strong social conservatism (most infamously a vociferous opposition to same-sex marriage) combined with a protectionist and anti-privatisation economic policy. Made a strong showing in the 2012 Queensland state election, winning two seats and 11.5% of the primary vote.
- Independents: Singular freelance politicians with no ties to any particular party. The larger parties can often be seen bending over backwards to get them to vote in their favour in the both houses of Parliament, where they hold the balance of power along with the minor parties. In the House of Representatives, there are currently five independent MPs, two of whom (Peter Slipper and Craig Thomson) were expelled from their political parties (elected with the LNP and the ALP respectively); additionally, the House's sole KAP member Bob Katter was elected as an independent. In the Senate, there is currently one independent: "No Pokies" senator Nick Xenophon.
Keep in mind that, although these parties are stronger than other minor parties, only the Greens have any seats currently at the federal House of Representatives. In the technical sense, Australia does not have a two-party system. It's just that only two parties ever form government, two parties win the overwhelming majority of seats, and the only other party to have held a ministry in any government in the last 90 years is in a permanent, unending coalition with the Liberal Party.
Here are a few formerly-important major parties and third parties which are now defunct or as good as defunct:
- Protectionist Party -- one of the original two main political parties, and the first to form government: home to Australia's first two prime ministers. As the name suggests, their main thing was protectionism -- otherwise, the party had both liberal and conservative wings. While it existed, it governed as a minority government with Labor's (conditional) support. Dissolved 1909.
- Free Trade Party, later known as the Anti-Socialist Party -- the other of the original two main political parties. Again, their main issue was free trade, and the party had both liberal and conservative wings -- but with the emergence of Labor as a major party they began to position themselves specifically against them (hence the name change). Spent most of their time in Opposition -- only ever formed government once, and even then it was for less than a year. Also dissolved 1909.
- Commonwealth Liberal Party, also known as The Fusion -- formed from the Protectionist Party and Anti-Socialist Party merging in 1909, when they apparently realised they had more in common with each other than with Labor (who had now officially become a major party). Could be called the original ancestor of the modern-day Liberal Party.
- National Labor Party -- a short-lived offshoot of Labor, formed in 1916 from members expelled from the party over the issue of conscription... including the then-Prime Minister, Billy Hughes. Immediately entered into coalition with the Commonwealth Liberal Party, giving them the majority and therefore the government.
- Nationalist Party -- the new major party, formed when the Commonwealth Liberal Party and National Labor officially merged in early 1917. Governed for the next twelve-and-a-half years total, with two Prime Ministers, and remained in opposition for two years afterward before dissolving.
- Australian Party -- a short-lived offshoot of the Nationalists, formed in 1930 from members expelled from the party over the issue of industrial relations... including former Prime Minister Billy Hughes. Sound familiar? Once again, Hughes's defection led to the bringing-down of the sitting government -- except this time Hughes et. al. didn't join the opposition but stayed as a minor party for a year or so before being absorbed into the Nationalists' successor, the United Australia Party.
- Lang Labor -- a minor party formed as an offshoot from the ALP, founded by Jack Lang during the Great Depression. Composed of a left-wing branch of the ALP who were dissatisfied with the ALP government then in power -- so they helped to bring it down and let the conservative opposition in instead (yeah, Nice Job Breaking It, Hero). Eventually diminished and lost all significance, but hung onto existence until Jack Lang died.
- United Australia Party -- another new major party, founded in 1931 from the merging of the Nationalist Party with a group of defectors from Labor as well as the Australian Party and several conservative independents. Governed for nine-and-a-half years total, with two Prime Ministers, before finally dissolving in 1944. The immediate predecessor of the Liberal Party.
- Democratic Labor Party: The original incarnation. The DLP dates back to the early 1950s when they split from the ALP, claiming that the ALP were too communist for their tastes. A rather large third party of socially-conservative social democrats, the DLP consistently directed their voter preferences to the Coalition in front of Labor, and therefore guaranteed that the Coalition could stay in permanent power for 23 years despite losing the popular vote twice. The original DLP finally disbanded in the mid-70s, although a remnant lived on and has recently won two seats in two elections (see above).
- Australian Democrats: Originally created in 1978 to be a happy medium between Labor and Liberal, maintaining a roughly centrist political view. It barely exists now, although it was the largest of the minor parties during the 1990s. They disintegrated spectacularly in the early 2000s, once it became apparent that all the party's major figures loathed each other and their own party. Famous campaigned under a pledge to "keep the bastards honest", the 'bastards' being either the major parties or politicians in general -- which became somewhat amusing on reflection when they imploded.
- One Nation - A party standing for the age-old Australian values of intolerance, ignorance and fish and chips. Received massive publicity in the late '90s, until it became apparent that all involved had no idea what they were doing. Led by Pauline Hanson, a former fish and chips shop owner from Queensland, who unexpectedly won a seat in Federal Parliament as an independent in 1996. From her maiden speech, claiming that 'there are too many Asians in Australia', the party went through an inexplicable storm of popularity. At its height, the party won 23% of the vote in Queensland in the 1998 state election, second only to Labor. (If you visit Queensland, and you look around, one in four of them voted for One Nation.) Hanson lost her seat in Parliament in 1998, and later left the party. One Nation now exists largely in the memories of those who despised them -- those who supported them are hopefully trying to forget the whole thing.
- How did she win as an independent?. She was a Liberal who was dropped when they realised what she thought. Before the election, but too late to take her off the list.
- Pauline Hanson went on to run again in the 2007 election in Queensland, under the banner of a new political party "Pauline's United Australia Party" (not to be confused with the original United Australia Party listed above) of which she seemed to be the sole member. Her most famous opponent (as far as the press seemed to think) was an ex football player who dropped out when someone forgot to register him. She lost.
- Just to expand on that: the ex-football player's political career was short enough that The Chaser, in their 2010 electoral coverage, named the 'Award for Shortest Political Career' after him. His career didn't even last until the end of the press conference.
- Irony of ironies, she's now decided to move to Britain and become an immigrant. Good riddance, assuming they let her in.
- She came back, and ran for a seat in the New South Wales senate. She lost, and claims there was a (deliberate) miscount of the votes to keep her out.
Because there aren't so many sensitive issues in Australia as in the United States or the United Kingdom, most of the issues in Australian politics are relatively immediate. The only potentially divisive issue between Labor and the Liberals is the economy. Whilst both parties fundamentally accept a mixed economy, the Liberal party is (in general) slightly more likely to gravitate towards markets, whereas Labor is slightly more likely to gravitate towards government-based measures. This varies between individual members of the parties, and it also varies depending on the issue. For instance, whilst the Hawke-Keating Labor governments did a lot of deregulation and privatization, Howard's government made a move towards a less regulated labour market and the unions within the ALP were not remotely happy.
Amusingly, the Taiwanese provided a better summary of the events in the leadup to the 2010 election than the Australian media did. You don't even need to understand Chinese.
Australia uses "preferential voting" -- also known as the "Alternative Vote" system in the UK, or as "instant-runoff voting" (which despite initial hopes is not forcing pudgy, middle-aged politicians to sprint). Rather than voting for a singular candidate and have them win through a plurality (i.e. whoever wins the most votes) such as in other countries, Australians are made to vote for their members in order of preference, ranking them 1, 2, 3 and so on. If no one wins a majority (i.e. more than 50%) of #1 votes first off, then whoever got the least number is eliminated and those votes are distributed to whoever the voters ranked as #2 instead -- the process is repeated until someone gets a majority.
To prevent confusion, there are television and print ads explaining how a ranking ballot works ("put a '1' in the box of the candidate you prefer the most, etc. etc. etc."). On voting day, party supporters hand out "how-to-vote cards" at polling booths showing how each party prefers candidates from the other parties so that unsure people can just vote according to what their party wants.
- Also of note is that voting is compulsory. You can generally get away with not voting but legally you're expected to vote. A $AUS 20 fine applies for not voting.
- In some states, you're not obliged to mark the ballot in any way. If you genuinely don't care about your vote, you can just write "All politicians are wankers" on your ballot and put that in. Of course, if you vote correctly and write "All politicians are wankers" on the ballot, than the vote counters, while recounting everything, will see your vote half-a-dozen times.
- Informal votes (as any invalid vote is known as) can be rather creative too. In the 2007 election, the Senate ballot had the candidates grouped, with each group given a letter of the alphabet. This troper ranked them in the following order D, O, N, K, E and because there was no Y wrote in "Bob Dole" and assigned him that group. Democracy is fun. Or, alternately, you can try and have a say in actually running your bloody country.
- There is a joke: "For Christ's sake don't vote informal! I wrote 'Useless bastards!' on a ballot paper in 1971, and they've been in office ever since."
- "Donkey voting" is a type of formal(valid) vote, where the voter just numbers each box, consecutively 1-onwards, this is usually an "I don't care vote" but it can be helpful if there is a lot of candidates in a lower house election because a lower house ticket must be completely filled to be valid.
- Some people intentionally donkey vote because they feel the compulsory voting system has driven both major parties to the centre, forcing them to pander to the 'swing' voters, turning elections into tax cut auctions and fights over which party hates brown people more. They might also feel that regardless of which way they vote, there won't be a recognisable change in leadership; just in the voice doing the 'leading', and so their 'say' is pointless regardless.
- The preferential voting system is worth noting because it means there's no such thing as a minor candidate "splitting the vote". If somebody really likes the Greens but would rather Labor win than Liberal, he can vote 1 Greens and 2 Labor, and
ifwhen the Greens candidate doesn't get in, that vote goes to Labor rather than being wasted. Plenty of people vote for all the minor parties first, and their actual contribution to the election comes from whether it's Labor 7, Liberal 8 (or Labor 139-145, Liberal 146-151, as in some states' interminably long federal senate ballot papers) or vice versa.
- Even so, not everyone realises this is the case. You still hear people saying they're going to give their first preference to a major party because "they need it more" (in fact, the opposite is true since the votes will eventually make their way, with their full power, to the two-party prefered statistic anyway).
Since they're all interchangeable bastards, we don't bother remembering any politician's names, so the only ones the average Aussie will (apart from Harold Holt above) are the last dozen-or-so Prime Ministers: Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke, Keating, Howard, Howard, Howard, Howard, Rudd and Gillard.
- Edmund Barton if you're 20 years or older. That did cost a few million dollars for the TV ad campaign though.
- Most are also able to remember Peter Garrett, but that's only because he was part of the band Midnight Oil.
- No one in Queensland will ever forget the infamous premier (equivalent to an American state governor) Joh Bjelke-Petersen either, as much as they'd like to. He shamelessly dished out favors to developers, openly referred to an Aboriginal activist as "Mr. Witchetty Grub", openly supported South Africa's apartheid regime (and responded to protests by bringing in rural cops and stuffing jails until protesters had to be kept in paddy wagons), considered blasting shipping lanes through the Great Barrier Reef with nuclear weapons, involved in the allegedly corrupt pro-development 'white shoe brigade'...and somehow managed to remain in power for nearly 20 years. And even then he was only forced to step down due to a growing bribe scandal in the State Police. He certainly didn't help improve Queensland's redneck stereotype. Though hated by many living in the cities, Bjelke-Petersen is still adored by those living in rural areas, particular around the area of Kingaroy where he lived.
- He managed to stay in power by abusing the horribly unfair electorate divisions at the time (the rural areas of Queensland had far too many electorates for their size; Sir Joh was a member of the Country/National Party, which traditionally represents rural Australia). So, in effect, he was Queensland's one and only dictator. Jesus Christ.
- He was also born in New Zealand. You can have him, we certainly don't.
- I'll be the first to admit that Sir Joh (yes he got a knighthood) was a bad Premier. But the thing many people don't remember, either because of selective memory or because it was so long ago, is that he stayed in power so long because of huge gerrymandering of electorates, and the lack of any upper house to put breaks on his political bastardry. And that those two things were institutionalised by the previous government, which was the opposition all those long 20 years. Might there be an Aesop in that?
- Less than you might think: Queensland abolished its upper house in 1922. Joh was 11 then.
- Despite running what many may describe as a 'quasi--fascist' government, Sir Joh does need to take credit for the incredible development of Queensland, and particularly Brisbane and the Gold Coast, which, before his time, were little more than large country towns.
- As a side note, most Prime Ministers until John Gorton have a suburb in the Australian Capital Territory named after them.
A  Brief Summary of Each Australian Prime Minister:
Since the UK and Canada have separate pages for their lists of PMs, Australia gets one, too: Prime Ministers of Australia.
- New South Wales
- Western Australia
- Formerly the highest court of appeal, in fact
- Fun fact - some Australians suggested literally replicating the British system and having a House of Lords rather than a Senate. This was scornfully lambasted as the 'bunyip aristocracy', and would have consisted of randomly choosing families to have noble blood thereafter.
- Well, to include them in the census: they were already Australian citizens, and had gained the right to vote in all elections five years previously. The same constitutional change also took away the right of states to make discriminatory laws.
- The Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory
- there's been at least one other (John Gorton) plus three agnostics (John Curtin, Gough Whitlam and Bob Hawke)
- James Scullin
- although if the opposition were to form government now, the position of Deputy PM would not go to her but to Warren Truss, leader of the Nationals Party, which is part of the Coalition comprising the current opposition
- Incidentally, said Premier was outspoken about being opposed to Federation
- Who, incidentally, had spent two terms at Geelong Grammar School in Victoria
- also known pre-Federation as the Prime Minister, but obviously this had to be changed later
- hence the title "Governor-General" for their federal equivalent
- Many people believe they're for legalizing illegal drugs. They're not.
- Interestingly, on the major issue of Carbon Tax/Emission Trading Scheme, Labor stands firm on market-based mechanisms, whereas Liberal wants a direct government intervention
- The Irish vote the same way, with one key difference: Aussie divisions for the House of Representatives are single-member, while constituencies for the Dáil in Ireland are multi-member (3-5 TDs per constituency), technically making it a different system called Single Transferable Vote. For reasons of complicated electoral math, this has the effect that the Dáil has a lot more parties than the House of Representatives. Even more confusingly, the Australian Senate uses the same system as the Irish Dáil, but still call it preferential voting. This (the system, not the name) is why you see all kinds of minor parties in the Senate that never or barely ever manage to win a seat in the House.