First Impression of Australian Politics

For those who are on my friends list on Facebook, I had mentioned that I was moving to Sydney for university study for quite some time now. I’ve since moved into the metropolitan area, and have been adjusting myself to the new realities of living here (mostly my sad search for grape jelly…few Australians know what I’m talking about…Americans need PB&J!), and the political scene is one that I’m still adjusting to.

So America is a federal republic, while Australia seems to be this half-parliament/half-republic mish mash of government. There’s a Constitution, with a legislature and Prime Minister. There’s even two houses (Senate and Representatives) which take some ideas from the American system. No Supreme Court, just High and Lower Courts (but no Middle Courts?), and the State governments have their powers that are a bit different from the Federal government.

On the language, the English is funny; many adults sound like little children when they add “-ie” to the end of words, like bikkie, bestie, chewie, and even kindie. In all honesty though, I’ve spent little time talking with native Australians; most of my time has been with foreigners and/or immigrants, most of whom speak little to excellent English. A lot of them to their credit are forgiving of my “American speak” and attempt to understand what I say. But it’s all good, I speak English so I don’t care about accents so much so long as I can understand you.

At this time, I feel like I’ve jumped into the middle of a debate without much preparation. I’ve heard about the carbon tax and have seen a couple of rallies that were against it back in July. I see many Internet comments on the Labour Government, but how and when elections occur is still a bit of a mystery to me. I don’t have television at the moment, so I can’t be sure if the sentiment on the Internet is representative of most of the population (probably isn’t is my guess).

The Labour and Liberals seem like the typical two-party “Democrats and Republicans” back in America. Labour being further left than Liberal, but both still quite right economically. The Greens seem quite looney, and it probably doesn’t help that there is a Green politician’s office literally two doors down from me. That Australians have to vote or face a fine is a typical violation of rights (for every right you have, you also have the right to not exercise it). That guns are strictly regulated is another violation of rights that I can readily see (though it hasn’t stopped criminals from shooting at each other). Oh, and there is a classification system that does ban works from entering Australia, a nice touch on freedom of speech violations.

The politicians seem to be even more “backlash” prone than American politicians. A young man was sadly killed by a lunatic a couple of months ago. Since then the regulations on alcohol (which had little to no part in this murder) have increased and restricted the rights of businessmen. The anti-tobacco brigade has expanded to the point that the Tasmanian government may ban the sale of all tobacco products to future adults once they turn 18; plus, the tobacco industry recently lost a case of free speech in that the government may force a business to adopt “plain packaging”.

And there’s a lot of hoopla on “boat people”, aka illegal immigrants. That many Australians on the internet are for sending them back to Indonesia or wherever they come from isn’t really surprising, but the level of emotion attached to it seems even greater than that of America’s towards Mexican immigrants. But I need more information before I can come to any sort of conclusion.

So it’s been an interesting two months. Sadly, there appear to be few Objectivists, and the university has a large and very prominent socialist/communist group. If anyone is a student in Sydney, e-mail me, and we can get in touch. I have lots of Ayn Rand books that I brought over. As they say in Australia, cheers! ;)

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