Australia was settled by prehistoric settlers from Southeast Asia at least 40,000 years before the first European explorers in the 17th century. Formal territorial claims were made by Capt. James Cook for the East Coast in the name of Great Britain. 6 colonies were created in the late 18th and 19th centuries eventually becoming the commonwealth of Australia in 1901. Australia's flag is made up of the flag of the UK in the upper left hand corner, a seven pointed star where each point represents the original 6 states and one for all of the territories, as well as the stars on the right side to represent the Southern Cross constellation.
Population and world ranking- 22,992,654 & 56
Economy/GDP world Ranking- $1.189 trillion & 20
Unemployment rate and world ranking- 5.8% & 62
Main Industries- Coal, iron ore, gold, meat, wool, alumina, wheat, machinery and transport equipment
Government Type- A parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy in which the monarch has strictly ceremonial duties depending on the constitution. They have an elected prime minister who is head of the government.
Administrative divisions- 6 states and 2 territories*; Australian Capital Territory*, New South Wales, Northern Territory*, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia
Independence- 1 January 1901 (from the federation of UK colonies)
Information about their constitution- 9 July 1900; effective 1 January 1901; amended several times, last in 1977; note - a referendum to amend the constitution to reflect the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Act 2013 is planned for early 2017 (2016)
Their legal system is a common law system based on the English model
Suffrage (Voting Age)- 18 years of age
Executive Branch a. Head of State/Chief of state- Queen Elizabeth II represented by Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove. b. Cabinet c, Elections.
How they work? How often? How is power transferred due to illness or death of leader- The monarchy is hereditary, the governor general is appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the prime minister, and after legislative elections, the leader of the majority party is sworn in as prime minister by the governor general.
Legislative Branch a. Unicameral or Bicameral?- Bicameral b. Explain how it is organized?- consists of the Senate (76 seats; 12 members from each of the 6 states and 2 each from the 2 mainland territories; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote; members serve 6-year terms with one-half of state membership renewed every 3 years and territory membership renewed every 3 years) and the House of Representatives (150 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by majority preferential vote; members serve terms of up to 3 years)
How often are elections?- Senate - last held on 2 July 2016; House of Representatives - last held on 2 July 2016; this election represents a rare double dissolution where all 226 seats in both the Senate and House of Representatives are up for reelection
Judicial Branch a. How is it organized?- High Court of Australia (consists of 7 justices, including the chief justice); note - each of the 6 states, 2 territories, and Norfolk Island has a Supreme Court; the High Court is the final appellate court beyond the state and territory supreme courts.
How are judges picked?- justices appointed by the governor-general in council for life with mandatory retirement at age 70