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Presentation of the country
- Official name: Commonwealth of Australia
- Nature of the regime: constitutional monarchy
- Head of State: The Governor General represents Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia. Sir Peter Cosgrove has been Governor General since March 28, 2014.
Federation of 6 states (Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria) and two territories (Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory)
- Area: 7 692 300 km²
- Capital: Canberra (383,375 inhabitants in June 2014)
- Principal cities: Sydney (4.4 M hab.), Melbourne (4 M hab.), Brisbane (2 M hab.), Perth (1.7 M hab.)
- Official language (s): English
- Currency: Australian dollar (1 AUD = 0.667 euro, Chancery rate from 01/01/2016)
- National holiday: January 26
- Population (2015): 23.78 million (Australian Bureau of Statistics)
- Density: 3 inhabitants per km²
- Population growth: 2%
- Life expectancy: men (79.9 years); women (84.3 years)
- Literacy rate: 99%
- Religion (s): Catholics (25.3%), Anglicans (17.1%), Other Christians (17.6%), Buddhists (2.5%), Muslims (2.2%), No stated religion ( 22.3%)
- Aboriginal population: 500,000 people
- Human Development Index (UN 2014 Ranking): 0.935 (2nd in the world)
GDP (2015): US $ 1,240 billion (World Bank)
GDP per capita (2015): US $ 51,642 (World Bank) (2nd GDP / inhabitant of G20 countries)
Growth rate (2015) 3%
Unemployment rate (2015): 5.8%
Inflation rate (2015): 1.7%
Net public debt: 18.6% of GDP (2015) (Federal State – 16.9% – and Federated States)
Main customers (2014): China (28.3%), Japan (14.6%), United States (6.4%), South Korea (6.1%)
Main suppliers (2014): China (15%), United States (11.9%), Japan (6.5%), Singapore (5.4%)
Share of main sectors of activity in GDP (2015):
- agriculture: 3.6%
- industry: 28.2%
- services: 68.2%
The Commonwealth of Australia, established in 1901, is a constitutional monarchy, whose ruler is Queen Elizabeth II represented by a Governor General, Sir Peter COSGROVE, appointed on March 28, 2014. The Legislative Branch is composed of a federal Parliament with two chambers: the House of Representatives (150 representatives elected for 3 years) and the Senate (76 senators elected for 6 years).
The Governor General appoints as Prime Minister the leader of the majority party in the House of Representatives. The Prime Minister then chooses the ministers. Confirmed ministers are part of the “cabinet” that makes decisions about the government’s conduct, while other members of the government (ministers and parliamentary secretaries) are considered to be outside the cabinet. All ministers must belong to the Parliament to which they are collectively and individually responsible.
The opposition is a “shadow cabinet”, the shadow cabinet, modeled on the government in place. In the House of Representatives, the government and the “ghost cabinet” face each other, on both sides of the “Speaker” (President of the Chamber). The Australian “Speaker” is appointed by the majority party and remains identified with the party from which he or she comes.
The organization of political powers is identical at the federated level, with a Governor appointed by the Queen on the proposal of the federal authorities, a government accountable to a bicameral parliament (Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council). There are two types of federated entities: the states (South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria) and the Territories (Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory), whose administrative creation is after the institution of the Federation and which enjoy relatively less autonomy vis-à-vis the federal government. The state of Queensland and the two territories have no upper house.
The political landscape is dominated by two major political parties, the Labor Party (center-left) and the Liberal Party (center-right) which forms a conservative coalition with its traditional minority ally, the National Party (Agrarian Conservative). Small parties (Democrats, Greens, Independents) can play a supporting role in forming government majorities.
The last Australian general election held on July 2 was narrowly won by the coalition led by Malcolm TURNBULL’s Liberal Party, with 76 seats out of 150 in the House of Representatives (compared to 90 in the previous term) . The new government was sworn in on July 19, 2016.
The 12th largest economy in the world and therefore a member of the G20, ranked fifth in the world for its GDP (54,708 USD), Australia is in its 26th consecutive year of growth – with an average annual growth of 2.5-3% since 1991 and remained one of the most successful economies among developed countries during and since the global financial crisis, despite a slowdown due to the slowdown in the mining and energy sectors – the main economic drivers – following the fall in commodity prices. The unemployment rate (5.8%) is low and the federal government’s net debt (16.9% of GDP), one of the lowest in the industrialized countries.
Australia is one of the OECD countries most open to foreign direct investment (which accounts for an average of one third of Australia’s GDP). The stock of FDI in 2015 amounted to USD 537 billion, or around 2.2% of global stocks. The United States is the largest foreign investor, accounting for 23.6% of FDI, ahead of the EU (21.4%) and Japan (11.7%). The Australian financial system is described as “strong, resilient and well managed” by the IMF. Australia is now the 2nd largest project finance market in Asia, the 6th largest stock market in the world and the 5th largest IPO market.
In terms of international trade, a strong complementarity has been established between a growing Asia and an Australia rich in mineral reserves (coal, uranium, iron, gold, lignite, nickel, lead, copper), energy (gas) and agricultural products (meat, cereals, cotton, wool). Australian exports to the area are steadily increasing, especially to China (+ 25% per annum), Australia’s leading bilateral trading partner. The Asia-Pacific region thus absorbs 71% of Australian exports (11.5% to the EU, 9% of the United States) and supplies 52% of imports (against 24% from the EU and 14% the United States).
Australia pursues a foreign policy marked by both its attachment to its values (rule of law, peaceful and negotiated resolution of conflicts, freedom of movement and navigation, defense of human rights, multilateralism), a real opportunism in its way of apprehending its regional environment (dependence on the United States for its security but also China for its economic prosperity) and a priority given to free trade and the promotion of Australian economic interests.
The Liberal Coalition has chosen to refocus its priorities on the Pacific and the strategic and commercial interests of Australia in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific (Indo-Pacific) where the threats do not fade (unknown north -Korean, tensions in the seas of eastern and southern China, rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines …). Canberra has also resumed openly with the multilateral approach and the desire to participate in the joint management of global issues. Australia has announced its wish to regain a seat on the Security Council in 2029-2030 and its candidacy for the Human Rights Council for 2018-2020.