Commonwealth of Australia
Area: 7.7 million sq. km. (3 million sq. mi.); about the
size of the 48 contiguous United States.
Cities (2008): Capital--Canberra (pop. 345,000). Other
cities--Sydney (4.4 million), Melbourne (3.9 million),
Brisbane (1.95 million), Perth (1.6 million), Adelaide (1.2
million), Darwin (120,000), Hobart (209,000).
Terrain: Varied, but generally low-lying.
Climate: Relatively dry and subject to drought, ranging from
temperate in the south to tropical in the far north.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Australian(s).
Population (2009 est.): 21.8 million.
Annual population growth rate: 1.7%.
Ethnic groups: European 92%, Asian 6%, Aboriginal 2%.
Religions (2006): Catholic 26%, Anglican 19%, other
Christian 19%, other non-Christian 1%, Buddhist 2.1%, Islam
1.7%, no religion 19%, and not stated 12%.
Education: Years compulsory--to age 16 in all states and
territories except New South Wales and the Northern
Territory where it is 15, and Western Australia where it is
17. Literacy--over 99%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--4.7/1,000. Life
expectancy--males 78 yrs., females 83 yrs.
Work force (10.8 million): Agriculture--3.3%; mining--1.5%;
manufacturing--9.8%; retail trade--11.3%; public
administration, defense, and safety--6%; construction--9.2%
Type: Constitutional monarchy: democratic, federal-state
Constitution: Passed by the British Parliament on July 9,
Independence (federation): January 1, 1901.
Branches: Executive--Queen Elizabeth II (head of state,
represented by a governor general); the monarch appoints the
governor general on the advice of the prime minister.
Legislative--bicameral Parliament (76-member Senate,
150-member House of Representatives). The governor general
appoints the prime minister (generally the leader of the
party which holds the majority in the House of
Representatives) and appoints ministers on the advice of the
prime minister. Judicial--independent judiciary.
Administrative subdivisions: Six states and two territories.
Political parties: Australian Labor, Liberal, the Greens,
the Nationals, and Family First. The Australian Labor Party
currently forms the government.
Suffrage: Universal and compulsory 18 and over.
Central government budget (revenue): FY 2008-2009 A$295.9
billion (U.S. $236.7 billion); FY 2009-2010 A$290.6 billion
(U.S. $232.5 billion).
Defense: A$25 billion (U.S. $20 billion) or 2.20% of GDP for
GDP (2009-2010 estimate): A$1.17 trillion (U.S. $893.6
Inflation rate (year to March 2009): 2.5% per annum.
Reserve Bank official interest rate (May 2009): 3.00%.
Trade: Exports ($178.9 billion, 2008 estimate)--coal, iron
ore, gold, meat, wool, alumina, wheat, machinery and
transport equipment. Major markets--Japan, China, South
Korea, U.S. ($10.7 billion), and New Zealand. Imports
($187.2 billion, 2008 estimate)--machinery and transport
equipment, computers and office machines, telecommunication
equipment and parts; crude oil and petroleum products. Major
suppliers--China, United States ($23.96 billion), Japan,
Singapore, and Germany.
Exchange rate (2009): U.S. $1 = A$1.25.
Australia's indigenous inhabitants, a hunting-gathering
people collectively referred to today as Aboriginals and
Torres Straits Islanders, arrived more than 40,000 years
ago. Although their technical culture remained
static--depending on wood, bone, and stone tools and
weapons--their spiritual and social life was highly complex.
Most spoke several languages, and confederacies sometimes
linked widely scattered tribal groups. Indigenous population
density ranged from one person per square mile along the
coasts to one person per 35 square miles in the arid
interior. When Captain James Cook claimed Australia for
Great Britain in 1770, the native population may have
numbered 300,000 in as many as 500 tribes speaking many
different languages. In 2006 the indigenous population was
approximately 517,200, representing about 2.5% of the
population. Since the end of World War II, the government
and the public have made efforts to be more responsive to
aboriginal rights and needs, most recently with Prime
Minister Kevin Rudd's historic apology to the indigenous
people in February 2008.
Immigration has been vital to Australia's development since
the beginning of European settlement in 1788. For
generations, most settlers came from the British Isles, and
the people of Australia are still predominantly of British
or Irish origin, with a culture and outlook similar to those
of Americans. Non British/Irish immigration has increased
significantly since World War II through an extensive,
planned immigration program. Since 1945 around 6.6 million
migrants have settled in Australia, including 690,000
refugee and humanitarian entrants. About 80% have remained;
24%--almost one in four--of Australians are foreign-born.
Britain, Ireland, Italy, Greece, New Zealand, and the former
Yugoslavia were the largest sources of post-war immigration,
but New Zealand is closing on Britain as the largest source
country for permanent migrants to Australia, with India,
China, and the Philippines making up the rest of the top
five. Since the end of World War II, Australia's population
has more than doubled.
Australia's humanitarian and refugee program of about 13,000
per year is in addition to other immigration programs. In
recent years, refugees from Africa, the Middle East, and
Southwest Asia have comprised the largest element in
Australia's refugee program. Although Australia has scarcely
more than three people per square kilometer, it is one of
the world's most urbanized countries. Less than 2.5% of the
population lives in remote or very remote areas.
Much of Australia's culture is derived from European
roots, but distinctive Australian features have evolved from
the environment, aboriginal culture, and the influence of
Australia's neighbors. The vigor and originality of the arts
in Australia--film, opera, music, painting, theater, dance,
and crafts--have achieved international recognition.
Australian actors and comedians such as Nicole Kidman,
Rachel Griffiths, Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Paul Hogan,
Hugh Jackman, the late Heath Ledger, and Dame Edna Everage
(Barry Humphries) have achieved enormous popularity in the
United States. Directors such as Peter Weir, Philip Noyes,
and Russell Mulcahy, the conductor Sir Charles Mackerras,
and singers and musicians such as Olivia Newton-John, The
Wiggles, AC/DC, Dame Joan Sutherland, Dame Nellie Melba, and
Kylie Minogue are well known.
Australian artists with international reputations include
Sidney Nolan, Russell Drysdale, Pro Hart, and Arthur Boyd.
Writers who have achieved world recognition include Thomas
Keneally, Colleen McCullough, Nevil Shute, Morris West, Jill
Ker Conway, Peter Carey, Robert Hughes, Germaine Greer, and
Nobel Prize winner Patrick White.
In sports, too, Australian athletes are internationally
renowned, particularly in swimming, diving, cricket, tennis,
rugby, and golf. Australia's share of Olympic medals and
world titles is proportionately larger than its share of the
Australia was uninhabited until stone-culture peoples
arrived, perhaps by boat across the waters separating the
island from the Indonesia archipelago more than 40,000 years
ago. Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and English explorers
observed the island before 1770, when Captain Cook explored
the east coast and claimed it for Great Britain. (Three
American colonists were crew members aboard Cook's ship, the
On January 26, 1788 (now celebrated as Australia Day), the
First Fleet under Captain Arthur Phillip landed at Sydney,
and formal proclamation of the establishment of the Colony
of New South Wales followed on February 7. Many, but by no
means all, of the first settlers were convicts, some
condemned for offenses that today would often be thought
trivial. From the mid-19th century convict transportation to
Australia significantly declined; the last ship to arrive
was in 1868. The discovery of gold in 1851 led to increased
population, wealth, and trade.
The six colonies that now constitute the states of the
Australian Commonwealth were established in the following
order: New South Wales, 1788; Tasmania, 1825; Western
Australia, 1829; South Australia, 1836; Victoria, 1851; and
Queensland, 1859. Settlement preceded these dates in most
cases. Discussions between Australian and British
representatives led to adoption by the British Government of
an act to constitute the Commonwealth of Australia in 1900,
effective January 1, 1901. In 1911, control of the Northern
Territory was transferred from South Australia to the
Commonwealth. Also that year, the Australian Capital
Territory (where the national capital, Canberra, is
located), was established. The Northern Territory and
Australian Capital Territory were granted self-government in
1978 and 1988, respectively.
The first federal Parliament was opened at Melbourne in May
1901 by the Duke of York (later King George V). In May 1927,
the seat of government was transferred to Canberra, a
planned city designed by American Walter Burley Griffin. The
first session of Parliament in Canberra was opened by
another Duke of York (later King George VI). Australia
passed the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act on October 9,
1942 (with effect as of September 3, 1939), which officially
established Australia's complete autonomy in both internal
and external affairs and formalized a situation that had
existed for years. The Australia Act (effective March 3,
1986) eliminated almost all remaining vestiges of British
legal authority, including the ability to appeal to the
British Privy Council.
The Commonwealth government was created with a
Constitution patterned partly on the U.S. Constitution,
although it does not include a "bill of rights." Powers of
the Commonwealth are specifically defined in the
Constitution, and the residual powers remain with the
states. Proposed changes to the Constitution must be
approved by the Parliament and the people, via referendum.
Australia is an independent nation within the Commonwealth.
Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state and since 1973 has
been officially styled "Queen of Australia." The Queen is
represented federally by a governor general and in each
state by a governor. By convention, the governor general
generally acts on the advice of the prime minister and other
ministers. However the governor general has "reserve
powers," including the power to dismiss ministers, last
exercised in 1975.
The federal Parliament is bicameral, consisting of a
76-member Senate and a 150-member House of Representatives.
Twelve senators from each state are elected for 6-year
terms, with half elected every 3 years. Each territory has
two senators who are elected for 3-year terms, concurrent
with that of the House. Seats in the House of
Representatives are allocated among the states and
territories roughly in proportion to population. The two
chambers have equal powers, except all proposals for
appropriating revenue or imposing taxes must be introduced
in the House of Representatives. Under the prevailing
Westminster parliamentary system, the leader of the
political party or coalition of parties that wins a majority
of the seats in the House of Representatives is named prime
minister. The prime minister and the cabinet wield actual
power and are responsible to the Parliament, of which they
must be elected members. General elections are held at least
once every 3 years; the last general election was in
Each state is headed by a premier, who is the leader of the
party with a majority or a working minority in the lower
house of the state legislature. (Queensland is an exception,
with a unicameral parliament.) Australia's two
self-governing territories have political systems similar to
those of the states, but with unicameral assemblies. Each
territory is headed by a chief minister who is the leader of
the party with a majority or a working minority in the
territory's legislature. More than 670 local councils assist
in the delivery of services such as road maintenance, sewage
treatment, and the provision of recreational facilities.
At the apex of the court system is the High Court of
Australia. It has general appellate jurisdiction over all
other federal and state courts and possesses the power of
Principal Government Officials
Governor General--Quentin Bryce
Prime Minister--Kevin Rudd
Deputy Prime Minister--Julia Gillard
Foreign Minister--Stephen Smith
Defense Minister--John Faulkner
Trade Minister--Simon Crean
Ambassador to the United States--Dennis Richardson
Ambassador to the United Nations--Gary Quinlan
Australia maintains an embassy in the United States at 1601
Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel.
202-797-3000), and consulates general in New York
(212-351-6500), San Francisco (415-536-1970), Honolulu
(808-524-5050), Los Angeles (310-229-4800), Chicago
(312-419-1480) and Atlanta (404-760-3400).
Three political parties dominate the center of the
Australian political spectrum. The Liberal Party (LP),
nominally representing urban business interests, and its
smaller coalition partner, The Nationals, nominally
representing rural interests, are the more conservative
parties. The Australian Labor Party (ALP) nominally
represents workers, trade unions, and left-of-center groups.
While the ALP, founded by labor unions, traditionally had
been moderately socialist in its policies and approaches to
social issues, today it is best described as a social
democratic party. All political groups are tied by tradition
to welfare programs. Over the last decade, Australia has
increased welfare payments to families while imposing
obligations on those receiving unemployment benefits and
disability pensions. There is strong bipartisan sentiment on
many international issues, including Australia's commitment
to its alliance with the United States.
The ALP, under the leadership of Kevin Rudd, defeated the
Liberal/National coalition, led by then-Prime Minister John
Howard, in the November 24, 2007 election. The ALP now holds
83 seats in the House of Representatives, against 64 for the
Liberal/National coalition, and 3 independents. The
composition of the Senate is 37 seats for the coalition, 32
for the ALP, five seats for the Greens, one for Family
First, and one independent.
Rudd and the ALP won the election with a message promising
"new leadership" after 11 years of the Howard government.
Rudd portrayed himself as an "economic conservative," while
criticizing unpopular Howard government policies on
workplace relations reform, climate change, and the war on
Iraq. The Rudd government ratified the Kyoto Protocol and is
working with the international community on combating
climate change. It is undoing some labor market reforms
instituted by the Howard government, such as statutory
individual contracts. The Australian government's foreign
policy shows strong continuity with that of its
predecessors, stressing relations with four key countries:
the United States, Japan, China, and Indonesia. The Rudd
government strongly supports U.S. engagement in the
Asia-Pacific region and increased Australia’s troop
contribution in Afghanistan. It withdrew Australia's combat
troops from Iraq in 2008 and planned to end its military
mission in Iraq in July 2009.
Australia's economy is dominated by its services sector,
yet it is the agricultural and mining sectors that account
for the bulk of Australia's exports. Australia's comparative
advantage in the export of primary products is a reflection
of the natural wealth of the Australian continent and its
small domestic market; 21 million people occupy a continent
the size of the contiguous United States. The relative size
of the manufacturing sector has been declining for several
decades, but has now steadied at around 10% of GDP.
Australia currently enjoys a record high terms-of-trade well
above its long-run average, reflecting the rise in global
commodity prices created by booming demand in China and the
drop in prices for imports for manufactured goods, mainly
Since the 1980s, Australia has undertaken significant
structural reform of its economy and has transformed itself
from an inward-looking, highly protected, and regulated
marketplace to an open, internationally competitive,
export-oriented economy. Key economic reforms included
unilaterally reducing high tariffs and other protective
barriers to free trade, floating the Australian dollar,
deregulating the financial services sector, including
liberalizing access for foreign banks, increasing
flexibility in the labor market, reducing duplication and
increasing efficiency between the federal and state branches
of government, privatizing many government-owned monopolies,
and reforming the taxation system, including introducing a
broad-based Goods and Services Tax (GST) and large
reductions in income tax rates.
Australia enjoys a higher standard of living than any G7
country other than the United States. Australia's economic
standing in the world is a result of a commitment to
best-practice macroeconomic policy settings, including the
delegation of the conduct of monetary policy to the
independent Reserve Bank of Australia, and a broad
acceptance of prudent fiscal policy where the government
aims for fiscal balance over the economic cycle. Largely due
to the fall in revenue as a result of the global economic
downturn, net government debt is projected to reach about
A$188 billion (U.S. $150.4 billion) in four years. The
previous government, drawing from budget surpluses, created
the “Future Fund” to provide for future liabilities
resulting from the retirement of civil servants. The The
Government of Australia is predicting negative 0.5% growth
in the 2009-2010 fiscal year; the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) predicted growth to be negative 1.4% for 2009.
Over the last year, unemployment has risen to around 5.5%
from 4.2%, and the labor market participation has remained
at around 65%. Both the federal and state governments have
recognized the need to invest heavily in water, transport,
ports, telecommunications, and education infrastructure to
expand Australia's supply capacity. The largest river system
in Australia, the Murray-Darling, and related coastal lakes
and wetlands in South Australia are critically threatened
and the government has developed a plan to improve
irrigation infrastructure and efficiency and buy back unused
water allocations along the river.
A second significant issue is climate change. A report
commissioned by then-Prime Minister John Howard recommended
a domestic carbon emissions trading scheme and that
Australia take an active role in developing a future global
carbon emissions trading system. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
plans to introduce a domestic carbon trading system by 2011.
It aims to reduce emissions by 5% from 2000 levels by 2020;
the paper includes the possibility of increasing cuts to 15%
should an international commitment to cut emissions be
The Australia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) entered
into force on January 1, 2005. The AUSFTA was the first FTA
the United States concluded with a developed economy since
the U.S.-Canada FTA in 1988. Australia also has FTAs with
New Zealand-ASEAN, Singapore, Thailand, and Chile, and is
pursuing other FTAs, including with China, Japan, Malaysia,
and South Korea. A burgeoning trade relationship marked by
ongoing, multi-billion dollar resource export contracts and
rising manufactured imports has driven FTA negotiations with
Australia has been an active participant in
international affairs since federation in 1901, and
Australian forces have fought beside the United States and
other Allies in every significant conflict since World War
I. On January 8, 1940, the governments of the United States
and Australia announced the establishment of bilateral
diplomatic relations. In 1944, Australia concluded an
agreement with New Zealand dealing with the security,
welfare, and advancement of the people of the independent
territories of the Pacific (the ANZAC pact). After World War
II, Australia played a role in the Far Eastern Commission in
Japan and supported Indonesian independence during that
country's revolt against the Dutch. Australia was one of the
founding members of the United Nations, the South Pacific
Commission, and the Colombo Plan. In addition to
contributing to UN forces in Korea--it was the first country
to announce it would do so after the United
States--Australia sent troops to assist in putting down the
1948-1960 communist revolt in Malaya and later to combat the
1963-1965 Indonesian-supported invasion of Sarawak. The
United States, Australia, and New Zealand signed the ANZUS
Treaty in 1951, which remains Australia's pre-eminent formal
security treaty alliance. Australia sent troops to assist
South Vietnamese and U.S. forces in Vietnam, and joined
coalition forces in the Persian Gulf conflict in 1991, in
Afghanistan in 2001, and in Iraq in 2003.
Australia has been active in the Australia-New Zealand-U.K.
agreement and the Five-Power Defense
Arrangements--successive arrangements with Britain and New
Zealand to ensure the security of Singapore and Malaysia.
One of the drafters of the UN Charter, Australia has given
firm support to the United Nations and its specialized
agencies. It was last a member of the Security Council in
1985-86, a member of the Economic and Social Council for
1986-89, and a member of the UN Human Rights Commission for
1994-96 and 2003-2005. Australia recently declared its
intention to seek a non-permanent seat on the UN Security
Council for 2013-2014. Australia takes a prominent part in
many other UN activities, including peacekeeping,
nonproliferation and disarmament negotiations, and narcotics
control. Australia also is active in meetings of the
Commonwealth Regional Heads of Government and the Pacific
Islands Forum, and has been a leader in the Cairns
Group--countries pressing for agricultural trade reform in
World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations--and in founding
the APEC forum. In 2002, Australia joined the International
Australia has devoted particular attention to relations
between developed and developing nations, with emphasis on
the ten countries of the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations (ASEAN) and the island states of the South Pacific.
Australia is an active participant in the ASEAN Regional
Forum (ARF), which promotes regional cooperation on security
issues, and has been a member of the East Asia Summit since
its inauguration in 2005. In September 1999, acting under a
UN Security Council mandate, Australia led an international
coalition to restore order in East Timor upon Indonesia's
withdrawal from that territory. In 2006, Australia
participated in an international peacekeeping operation in
Timor-Leste (formerly East Timor). Australia led a regional
mission to restore law and order in Solomon Islands in 2003
and again in 2006. Australia is part of the Asia Pacific
Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, which also
includes the United States.
The government is committed to increasing official
development assistance to 0.5% of gross national income by
2015-2016. Australia budgeted A$3.79 billion (U.S. $3.03
billion) for FY 2008-2009 and has budgeted A$3.82 billion
(U.S. $3.05 billion) for FY 2009-2010. The Australian aid
program is currently concentrated in Southeast Asia (Papua
New Guinea and Indonesia are the largest recipients) and the
Pacific Islands. Selected aid flows are allocated to Africa,
South Asia, and reconstruction in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Contributions to multilateral organizations and other
expenses account for about one-third of the foreign
ANZUS AND DEFENSE
The Australia, New Zealand, United States (ANZUS)
security treaty was concluded at San Francisco on September
1, 1951, and entered into force on April 29, 1952. The
treaty bound the signatories to recognize that an armed
attack in the Pacific area on any of them would endanger the
peace and safety of the others. It committed them to consult
in the event of a threat and, in the event of attack, to
meet the common danger in accordance with their respective
constitutional processes. The three nations also pledged to
maintain and develop individual and collective capabilities
to resist attack.
In 1984, the nature of the ANZUS alliance changed after the
Government of New Zealand refused access to its ports by
nuclear-weapons-capable and nuclear-powered ships of the
U.S. Navy. The United States suspended defense obligations
to New Zealand, and annual bilateral meetings between the
U.S. Secretary of State and the Australian Foreign Minister
replaced annual meetings of the ANZUS Council of Foreign
Ministers. The first bilateral meeting was held in Canberra
in 1985. At the second, in San Francisco in 1986, the United
States and Australia announced that the United States was
suspending its treaty security obligations to New Zealand
pending the restoration of port access. Since 1985, U.S.
Secretaries of State and Defense and the Australian Foreign
and Defense Ministers have held 20 Australia-U.S.
Ministerial consultations (AUSMIN), alternating between
Australia and the United States. The next AUSMIN is
scheduled to take place in Australia in 2010.
The U.S.-Australia alliance under the ANZUS Treaty remains
in full force. AUSMIN meetings are supplemented by
consultations between the U.S. Combatant Commander, Pacific
and the Australian Chief of Defense Force. There also are
regular civilian and military consultations between the two
governments at lower levels.
ANZUS has no integrated defense structure or dedicated
forces. However, in fulfillment of ANZUS obligations,
Australia and the United States conduct a variety of joint
activities. These include military exercises ranging from
naval and landing exercises at the task-group level to
battalion-level special forces training to numerous
smaller-scale exercises, assigning officers to each other's
armed services, and standardizing, where possible, equipment
and operational doctrine. The two countries also operate
joint defense facilities in Australia.
Following the terrorist attacks on the United States on
September 11, 2001, then-Prime Minister Howard and U.S.
President George W. Bush jointly invoked the ANZUS Treaty
for the first time on September 14, 2001. Australia was one
of the earliest participants in Operation Enduring Freedom.
Australian Defense Forces participated in coalition military
action against Iraq in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Australian
combat forces began their withdrawal from Iraq in mid-2008
and forces were to be fully removed by July 2009. Australia
has approximately 1,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan and
also provides significant development and capacity building
assistance to the country. Based on growing defense
commitments, Australia decided to increase the Australian
Army from 26,000 to 30,000 over the next several years. This
will enable the reestablishment of two infantry battalions,
as well as enabling troops, such as a new unmanned aerial
vehicle (UAV) unit.
The Australian Government has stated its intention to
maintain its investment in future capability of the
Australian Defense Force (ADF). To do so, the government has
committed to a 3% annual growth in real defense funding
through 2018--and 2.2% annual real growth beyond--to ensure
the ADF can continue to meet capability and interoperability
goals. The Australian Defense Force numbers about 54,000
active duty personnel, with planned increases to 57,000
within the next decade. The Royal Australian Navy's (RAN)
front-line fleet currently includes 12 frigates, including 4
of the Adelaide class and 8 Australian-built ANZAC class. In
August 2004, Australia selected the Aegis Combat Control
System for its three air warfare destroyers (AWD), which
will start coming into service in 2014. The F/A-18 fighter,
built in Australia under license from the U.S. manufacturer,
is the principal combat aircraft of the Royal Australian Air
Force, backed by the U.S.-built F-111 strike aircraft. In
October 2002, Australia became a Level III partner in the
U.S.-led Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. Additionally,
the Australian Government signed the JSF Production,
Sustainment and Follow-on Development MOU in 2006. Australia
is projected to buy up to 100 JSF aircraft with deliveries
starting in 2013 and running through 2020. The F-111 strike
aircraft are scheduled to exit service by 2010 and will be
replaced by 24 Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet fighters as an
interim strike capability with deliveries commencing in
2010. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) took delivery of
the last aircraft in its buy of 4 Lockheed C-17 strategic
airlift aircraft in 2008. In addition, Boeing will provide
the Commonwealth of Australia's RAAF with an Airborne Early
Warning and Control (AEW&C) system based on the
Next-Generation 737-700 aircraft as the airborne platform.
Recent U.S. sales to the Australian Army include the M1A1
AIM tank, as well as Hellfire and JAVELIN munitions. Future
opportunities include CH-47 helicopter replacements, navy
helicopter replacements, light and medium cargo aircraft
replacements and artillery systems.
In May 2009, the Australian Government released its Defense
White Paper, outlining Australia’s long-term strategic
outlook. In addition to buying the JSF aircraft, the White
Paper proposes to double Australia’s submarine fleet to 12,
replace the ANZAC class frigates, and replace the army’s
armored personnel carriers.
The U.S. and Australia signed a Defense Cooperation Treaty
in Sydney in September 2007. This treaty, when implemented,
will facilitate the trade of defense equipment and
technology between the countries. The treaty is currently
awaiting ratification by the U.S. Senate.
The World War II experience, similarities in culture and
historical background, and shared democratic values have
made U.S. relations with Australia exceptionally strong and
close. Ties linking the two nations cover the entire
spectrum of international relations--from commercial,
cultural, and environmental contacts to political and
defense cooperation. Two-way trade reached almost $26
billion in 2006. More than 459,700 Americans visited
Australia in 2007. In September 2007, the United States and
Australia signed an agreement launching a 12-month exchange
student work and travel pilot program. While Australia
enjoys a similar program with approximately twenty other
countries, this was the first program of its kind for the
United States. The pilot program will facilitate the
hands-on experience of Australian and Americans working in
each others' country and will deepen and enhance our
bilateral relationship even further.
Traditional friendship is reinforced by the wide range of
common interests and similar views on most major
international questions. For example, both attach high
priority to controlling and eventually eliminating chemical
weapons, other weapons of mass destruction, and
anti-personnel landmines; and both work closely on global
environmental issues such as slowing climate change and
preserving coral reefs. The Australian Government and
opposition share the view that Australia's security depends
on firm ties with the United States, and the ANZUS Treaty
enjoys broad bipartisan support. Recent Presidential visits
to Australia (in 1991, 1996, 2003, and 2007), a Vice
Presidential visit in February 2007, and Australian Prime
Ministerial visits to the United States (in 1995, 1997,
1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, and 2009)
have underscored the strength and closeness of the alliance.
The bilateral Australia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA)
entered into force on January 1, 2005. This comprehensive
agreement, only the second FTA the U.S. had negotiated with
a developed nation, substantially liberalized an already
vibrant trade and investment relationship. The AUSFTA also
creates a range of ongoing working groups and committees
designed to explore further trade reform in the bilateral
context. Both countries share a commitment to liberalizing
global trade. They work together very closely in the World
Trade Organization (WTO), and both are active members of the
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.
A number of U.S. institutions conduct scientific activities
in Australia because of its geographical position, large
land mass, advanced technology, and, above all, the ready
cooperation of its government and scientists. In 2005, a
bilateral science and technology agreement was renewed.
Under another agreement dating back to 1960 and since
renewed, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA) maintains in Australia one of its
largest and most important programs outside the United
States, including a number of tracking facilities vital to
the U.S. space program. Indicative of the broad-ranging
U.S.-Australian cooperation on other global issues, a Mutual
Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) was concluded in 1997,
enhancing already close bilateral cooperation on legal and
counter-narcotics issues. In 2001, the U.S. and Australia
signed a new tax treaty and a bilateral social security
agreement. The U.S. Studies Centre was launched in 2006 at
the University of Sydney with Commonwealth funding of A$25
million (U.S. $20 million).
Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador--Jeffrey L. Bleich
Deputy Chief of Mission--Daniel A. Clune
Consular Affairs Coordinator--Thurmond Borden (resident in
Economic Counselor--Edgard Kagan
Political Counselor--Edgard Kagan
Management Counselor--Chris R. Riche
Public Affairs Counselor--Judy A. Moon
Defense and Air Attache--Col Andrew Britschgi, USAF
Agricultural Counselor--Grant A. Pettrie
Senior Commercial Officer--David Murphy (resident in Sydney)
Melbourne Consul-General--Michael Thurston
Sydney Consul-General--Judith Fergin
Perth Consul-General--Kenneth Chern
The U.S. Embassy in Australia is located at Moonah Place,
Yarralumla, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2600
(tel. 61-2-6214-5600; fax 61-2-6214-5970). Consulates
General are in Sydney, (address: MLC Centre, Level 59, 19-29
Martin Place, Sydney, NSW 2000; tel. 61-2-9373-9200; fax
61-2-9373-9125); Melbourne (address: 553 St. Kilda Road,
Melbourne, VIC 3004; tel. 61-3-9526-5900; fax
61-3-9510-4646); and Perth (address: 13th Floor, 16 St.
George's Terrace, Perth, WA 6000; tel. 61-8-9202-1224; fax.
AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information
Program advises Americans traveling and residing abroad
through Country Specific Information, Travel Alerts, and
Travel Warnings. Country Specific Information exists for all
countries and includes information on entry and exit
requirements, currency regulations, health conditions,
safety and security, crime, political disturbances, and the
addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.
Travel Alerts are issued to disseminate information quickly
about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term
conditions overseas that pose significant risks to the
security of American travelers. Travel Warnings are issued
when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid
travel to a certain country because the situation is
dangerous or unstable.
For the latest security information, Americans living and
traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's
Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at
http://www.travel.state.gov , where the current
Worldwide Caution, Travel Alerts, and Travel Warnings can be
found. Consular Affairs Publications, which contain
information on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip
abroad, are also available at
http://www.travel.state.gov . For additional information
on international travel, see
The Department of State encourages all U.S. citizens
traveling or residing abroad to register via the State
Department's travel registration website or at the nearest
U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make
your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary
to contact you in an emergency and will enable you to
receive up-to-date information on security conditions.
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad
may be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the
U.S. and Canada or the regular toll line 1-202-501-4444 for
callers outside the U.S. and Canada.
The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S.
Department of State's single, centralized public contact
center for U.S. passport information. Telephone:
1-877-4-USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778); TDD/TTY: 1-888-874-7793.
Passport information is available 24 hours, 7 days a week.
You may speak with a representative Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to
10 p.m., Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.
Travelers can check the latest health information with the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta,
Georgia. A hotline at 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) and a web
http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/default.aspx give the most
recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or
requirements, and advice on food and drinking water safety
for regions and countries. The CDC publication "Health
Information for International Travel" can be found at
Further Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at
http://www.state.gov , the Department of State web site
provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign
policy information, including Background Notes and daily
press briefings along with the directory of key officers of
Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security
Advisory Council (OSAC) provides security information and
regional news that impact U.S. companies working abroad
through its website
Export.gov provides a portal to all export-related
assistance and market information offered by the federal
government and provides trade leads, free export counseling,
help with the export process, and more.
STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of
Commerce, provides authoritative economic, business, and
international trade information from the Federal government.
The site includes current and historical trade-related
releases, international market research, trade
opportunities, and country analysis and provides access to
the National Trade Data Bank.