Australia. In Queensland, five of the dissatisfaction
party left One Nation's state parliamentarians party in
February, and even more threatened to step down. In
connection with this, party leader Pauline Hanson was forced
to step down, but she was re-elected to her post later that
Countryaah official website, the state election in New South Wales on March 27 was a
success for the Social Democratic Australian Labor Party
(ALP), which increased its majority by 17 seats. One of the
most important election concerns was the possible
privatization of the state's electricity system, something
that the ALP opposed.
At the federal level, a 10 percent tax on goods and
services was approved in June. The new VAT is part of the
Conservative government's policy of reducing income taxes.
In August, Prime Minister John Howard and Parliament made
an apology to the Aboriginal people for the abuses it has
suffered in previous generations. He was criticized by some
Aboriginal leaders for avoiding saying the word "sorry".
The state election in Victoria on September 18 became a
setback for the Liberal Party/National Party, which,
however, received a mandate more than the ALP.
In a referendum on November 7, Australians had to decide
whether they wanted to maintain the monarchy or establish a
republic, with a president to be appointed by Parliament.
The opinion polls that preceded the election had hinted that
there was a clear majority for the republic, but 55% voted
to keep the ties to the British krona. The election result
was interpreted as many Australians opposed the system of
indirect presidential elections. Prime Minister Howard
advocated monarchy, but the government was strongly divided
on the issue. The largest opposition party, the ALP,
promised a new referendum if they won the parliamentary
elections in 2001.
Australia led the UN force sent to East Timor in
September, and by the end of the year, Prime Minister Howard
promised that the country would continue to play a pivotal
role when the UN took over command in early 2000.
Continued oppression of indigenous people
Although the situation of the indigenous people is
difficult throughout Australia, living conditions vary
widely from state to state. In the Northern Territory there
exist, for example. a relatively advanced legislation which
respects the rights of indigenous peoples. In Tasmania, the
authorities are also embarking on initiatives to protect
indigenous peoples' rights and to combat discrimination more
resolutely. But indigenous people continue to be
second-class citizens in their own country. According to
national and international human rights organizations, an
average of 2 prisoners of indigenous people per month died
in 1987. The population composition corresponded to the fact
that during the same period 100 prisoners of European
background died monthly. In 1981, there were 775 prisoners
for every 100,000 residents of the indigenous population,
while the figure for Australians with a European background
was 67. In Queensland, the indigenous people make up 2% of
the residents, but 35% of the inmates in the prisons. In
Western Australia, they also make up 2% of the population
but 44% of inmates.
Under these circumstances, the federal government set up
a commission to investigate the deaths of Aboriginal
inmates. After several years of work and investigations, the
Commission presented a preliminary report that was not
clearly able to identify the real causes of deaths or
identify those responsible. The report was criticized by
advocates from various indigenous groups, who characterized
it as a "joke" to the entire population.
Also in the health field, the indigenous people are
disadvantaged than the rest of the population. It is plagued
by diseases that are largely eradicated among Australians of
European descent and against which there are complete
opportunities for protection.
Australia is fully in line with New Zealand in its
criticism of England and France's nuclear tests in the
Pacific, but as New Zealand largely withdrew from ANZUS, it
led to a comprehensive internal reassessment by the
Australian government about the country's position in
alliances and regional policy . Against this backdrop, the
United States entered into negotiations with Australia to
maintain its military presence in the country and its
communications centers of great strategic importance.
At the economic level, the closure of the agricultural
markets in Europe and the United States has been a major
challenge for the country. In 1989, Australia proposed the
creation of APEC (Asian and Pacific Economic Cooperation).
At the same time, the country wanted to advocate for the
food exporting countries, and was the initiator of the
creation of the so-called "Cairns group" during the Uruguay
Round of the GATT.
In 1989, figures from the National University of
Australia showed that 1% of the population had over 20% of
the country's wealth and of 13% of the population lived
below the poverty line. The economic and social crisis grew
ever deeper, and in 1991 the number of unemployed was 1
million. They formed a permanent repression against Bob
Hawke's Labor Party government, which was faced with strong
opposition from the other political parties and from
significant parts of the labor movement. Hawke came to power
in 1983, after presiding over the country's LO, ACTU, for 11
years. He began his term with a great deal of popular
In the late 1980's, Hawke supported the most conservative
forces within the Labor Party and initiated a series of
reforms aimed at liberalizing the economy through, among
other things, a forced privatization of public companies.
The dissatisfaction of the population increased and the
opposition within the party increased. It evolved into a
real power struggle over control of the party between Prime
Minister Hawke and his former finance minister Paul Keating.
In December 1991, the party conducted an internal vote to
clarify the power struggle and to polish the government's
face. Keating won the internal election and became new prime
minister. Shortly after his election, Keating announced
further liberalization of the economy. That led to fierce
criticism from the trade union movement and the party's left