Democracy and rights
The human rights situation is generally good.
Australia is known for being a democracy and a rule of
law. Political and civil rights are respected and the
media has an independent position and can operate
freely. At the same time, the government has received
sharp criticism both within the country and from the
outside world for the treatment of asylum seekers.
Australians can express their views without
hindrance, confess to any religion and vote for the
party they want. It is compulsory to vote in elections
that are judged to be correct and fair by independent
experts. Both freedom of assembly and association exist,
although these rights are not statutory.
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Australia, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
But there are nonetheless groups that are
disadvantaged in political life and society at large.
Aborigines are still the most disadvantaged group in the
country from all points of view (see Labor Market and
Social Conditions). There are few Aborigines in
politics. According to a 2017 report by the UN
Commission on Human Rights, the government has failed,
despite a number of different measures and new
guidelines, to respect the right of indigenous peoples
to self-determination and to participate in society
under different conditions as other residents.
More recently, there has been extensive debate about
women's position in politics; many female members of
Parliament have reported harassment, threats and
Although Australian society is free and open, the
government has in recent years passed laws aimed at
preventing terrorism and other crime that increase
police surveillance and security services.
Human rights organizations have argued that a law
from 2017 that requires telecommunications companies to
store so-called metadata for two years can undermine
civil liberties. Another law from 2018 makes it
mandatory for IT companies to provide access to coded
communications. Among other things, the law has been
criticized for not being sufficiently specific and for
the high penalties for companies that do not comply with
Australia has also received strong criticism from
domestic and international human rights organizations
for its refugee policy. The government has refused to
allow boat refugees who want to seek asylum to stay in
the country. Instead, they have been sent to camps in
Nauru and Papua New Guinea, where abuses have occurred
and conditions are difficult (see also Population and
Languages). UN Refugee Agency UNHCR has also criticized
Australia for brutally sending refugees back to
countries where they are at risk of torture or other
cruel treatment in brutal forms contrary to the Refugee
Corruption is not a big problem in Australia. There
is extensive anti-corruption legislation that works
well. Australia is among the countries that have the
least corruption problems under Transparency
International (see ranking list here).
Freedom of expression and media
The media is independent and conducts an active audit
of the authorities and authorities while there is a
diversity of reporting. An independent federal agency
reviews the content of radio, television and the
Internet. Australia has strict rules against violence in
television and a certain number of Australian programs
must also be included in the offer.
However, some analysts believe that the strong
ownership concentration in the media world may in the
long run be a threat to investigative, free journalism.
A few large groups have collected a large part of the
newspaper and magazine publishing, the book publishers
and the ether media.
There is no specific legislation that guarantees
freedom of expression, but according to the Supreme
Court there is an implied protection for this
nonetheless in the constitution.
Press freedom organizations such as Reporters Without
Borders have criticized the country's harsh laws on
slander. Terrorism and security laws have also been
highlighted as an obstacle in the journalistic work.
Australia has deteriorated its ranking by two places
in Reporters Without Borders annual list of press
freedom in the countries of the world (see ranking list
There is a law from 1982 that gives all citizens the
right to access official documents and a special
independent institution oversees this.
There are no restrictions on freedom of the internet
and no censorship exists.
Judicial system and legal security
Australia's legal system is independent and there is
strong protection for legal security. The courts are
independent, impartial and work well.
The conditions in the country's prisons generally
conform to international rules, although overcrowding
has created some problems.
Aborigines are heavily over-represented in prisons.
New marine nature reserve
Marine areas around the coast corresponding to about
2.3 million square kilometers are declared protected
from overfishing and oil recovery in a new law on marine
Peace operation in East Timor ends
Australia ends peace operation in East Timor after
six years; the last soldiers will be returned by April
2013. However, the Australian Government has promised
continued defense cooperation with East Timor as well as
support for the country's police.
Victims of abuse must be compensated
The government apologizes for not doing more to stop
abuses that have occurred within the country's military
forces. More than 1000 reports of sexual, physical and
psychological abuse have been received in connection
with a survey of the past six decades. An investigative
group led by a judge shall investigate each report and
compensation shall be paid to the victims.
Gillard in the game against opposition leaders
In a parliamentary debate, Prime Minister Gillard
calls opposition leader Tony Abbott sexist and
woman-hating because of his hostile comments, and her
emotionally charged speech is attracted international
attention (see her post here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeGeooZOUdE).
Refugee camps are approved
Parliament's two chambers approve the opening of a
refugee camp on the Papuan island of Manus (see also
Papua New Guinea, Current Policy).
Negotiations on cooperation with Indonesia
Formal negotiations between Australia and Indonesia
begin an economic partnership, CEPA (Comprehensive
Economic Partnership Agreement), which includes trade,
economic cooperation and investment.
Five dead Australians in Afghanistan
Five Australian soldiers are reported to have been
killed in Afghanistan on August 29.
Coordination with the EU
Australia agrees with the EU on the coordination of
markets for greenhouse gas emissions trading (see
Natural Resources and Energy).
Report on boat refugees
An independent expert group appointed by Prime
Minister Gillard to propose solutions to the boat
refugee problem presents a report. Among other things,
it is proposed to set up camps in Nauru and Papua New
Guinea where people can seek asylum in Australia. These
were introduced by the conservative Howard government in
2001. The group also wants a new refugee reception
agreement to be established with Malaysia. The proposal
to start refugee centers in Nauru and Papua New Guinea
is supported by Parliament. A few days later, the
government announces that the number of refugees
received will increase to 20,000 per year. This is 45
per cent more refugees than before and the largest
increase in 30 years.
Carbon tax law comes into force
The controversial carbon tax, which penalizes those
who are responsible for large emissions, comes into
force. While Prime Minister Gillard defends it as
necessary for the climate, the opposition claims it will
mean lost jobs and higher prices.
Boat accident starts refugee debate
When a boat with refugees drops off Christmas Island
and some 70 people die, the debate on Australian refugee
policy gains new momentum (see Current Policy).
Survivors after the accident are shipped to a facility
on Christmas Island. Hundreds of boat refugees have
drowned in recent years as they tried to get to
Sexual abuse within the army
A report on widespread sexual abuse and harassment
within the army is causing great stir. The study
documents 850 cases of abuse against young soldiers,
sometimes no more than 13 years old, from the 1950s to
Aborigines are attributed to Lake Eyre
The federal court grants Aboriginal rights to an area
of about 70,000 square miles in South Australia,
including the country's largest lake, Lake Eyre.
Australian troops leave Afghanistan
Prime Minister Gillard announces in mid-month that
the Australian force in Afghanistan will be withdrawn in
2013, that is, the same year the parliamentary elections
are to be held in Australia.
Gillard wins Labor vote
On February 23, Prime Minister Gillard announces a
vote until February 27 among Labor MPs on who will lead
the party. Rudd announces shortly thereafter that he
will stand as a candidate in the vote. Gillard emerges
victorious from the fight as she gets 71 votes against
Leadership battle within Labor
On February 22, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd resigns,
citing that he no longer has the Prime Minister's
confidence. The media talks about a leadership battle
within Labor. Rudd has previously made statements that
he does not believe Gillard can win the 2013 election.