Australia. The government announced in April that the introduction of emissions trading would be delayed in the future. According to the government’s original plans, emissions trading would start in 2011, but now it was postponed until the earliest in 2013. The reason was the opposition’s liberal opposition to emissions regulation. In the fall of 2009, the government’s proposal on emissions trading had been voted down twice in the Senate. For Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who has made himself known as an environmental friend since he was elected in 2007, the new decision meant a setback. Support for Rudd and for Labor fell sharply in opinion polls. The distrust increased further after a government proposal for a so-called super profit tax on the country’s mines. The proposal, which was intended to be implemented in 2012, would impose high taxes on profits above a certain level in the thriving mining industry. The increased state revenue would go to social initiatives. But the owners of the mining companies protested and a large part of the population also opposed the new tax.
According to COUNTRYAAH, Australia has a population of 24.99 million (2018). Kevin Rudd also lost support within his own Labor Party. In June he was challenged by Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who took the initiative to vote on the post of head of government. Her motive was that “a good government is losing its grip”. Gillard promised she would get the party back on its feet before the pending October election. An opinion poll conducted before the party leader vote showed that Gillard would be supported by a majority of Labour’s 100 MPs. At that point, Rudd chose not to stand in the vote and everyone then voted for Gillard.
On June 24, Gillard was sworn in and became Australia’s first female prime minister. She retained several of Rudd’s ministers, but Rudd himself was not allowed to attend. Gillard announced new elections until August 21 because, as she said, she had not been elected by the people to the post of prime minister.
Gillard was born in Wales, UK, but emigrated to Australia with her parents when she was four years old. She first worked as a lawyer, but then switched to politics and became a Member of Parliament in 1998. Gillard is described as a good negotiator and a consensus politician, unlike Rudd who is criticized by some for top management.
Gillard is the Republican. When she took office as Prime Minister, she declared that Australia should become a republic “when Queen Elizabeth goes out of time”, ie at the next reign of Britain. The issue of republic is debated now and then in the former British colony, which is a member of the Commonwealth and has the Queen of Britain as Head of State. Opinions are falling apart and in a 1999 vote, Australian voters said no to turning the country into a republic.
One week after taking office, Gillard agreed with the mining companies on the disputed tax issue. Instead of the previously proposed and severely criticized profit tax of 40 percent, the new government agreed to introduce a 30 percent tax. The tax will be introduced on July 1, 2012 and applies to companies that make commodity profits of more than $ 50 million a year.
The OECD later pointed out that the tax was good, but that it should be extended to all mining companies, regardless of size.
In early July, the new prime minister called for a debate on the disputed immigration issue. Gillard, like opposition leader Tony Abbott, wants to reduce immigration. She suggested that Australia, in collaboration with the United Nations Refugee Commission (UNHCR), should build a new center for asylum seekers in East Timor or New Zealand. Many thought it would be a repetition of the criticized camps in, for example, Nauru, to which Australia sent asylum seekers during Liberal John Howard’s reign of 1996-2007. Gillard denied the similarities.
The most important issues before the August 21 elections were immigration, climate change and the economy. Shortly before the election, confidence in Labor fell as negative information emerged about Gillard’s actions as minister in Rudd’s government.
In principle, the election ended a draw between Labor, which took home 38 percent of the vote and 72 seats in the House of Representatives, and the opposition coalition between the Liberals and the National Party, which received 43 percent of the vote and 73 seats. The Greens were given a mandate, and four independent candidates entered the lower house. It was uncertain who would govern, and both Gillard and opposition leader Abbott began discussing cooperation with the five MPs outside the bloc. Thanks to promises of rural initiatives, Gillard and Labor managed to get support from the Greens and three independent members. Labor thus obtained a small majority with 76 seats against 74. This was the first time since World War II that Labor was forced to form a minority government. Kevin Rudd was appointed Foreign Minister in Gillard’s new government.
The election also resulted in the first Aboriginal ever, Ken Wyatt of the Liberals, being elected to the House of Representatives. There have been two liberal senators from Aboriginal people since before.
Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd expressed his support for the WikiLeaks founder, Australian citizen Julian Assange, in December. Assange had received very harsh criticism from the US government following WikiLeak’s publication of 250,000 US diplomatic reports. Rudd said that the Americans themselves, not Assange, were guilty of the leak. Shortly before, however, Prime Minister Gillard had called WikiLeak’s publication “gravely irresponsible”. According to softwareleverage, Australian police investigated whether Assange had committed any crime in Australia through the publication, but concluded that was not the case.
At least 27 boat refugees, including children, drowned outside the Australian Christmas Island when on their way to Australia in mid-December. The refugees traveled in a small, barely seaworthy boat, which was smashed against the rocks in the harsh weather that prevailed. More than 40 people could be rescued.
After more than a decade of severe drought, the so-called sunny state of Queensland, in northeastern Australia, suffered extensive flooding in late December. Heavy rains caused at least six river systems in the state to flood their banks. About 20 cities were flooded and hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee their homes or were rescued by helicopters, which were also used to bring supplies to isolated areas. One of the worst hit cities was Rockhampton, with 77,000 residents, forced to close its airport because of the elevated water level. The floods were expected to continue at least throughout January 2011. These were the most extensive floods in Australia in 50 years. The flooded area was as large as Germany and France together.
As of 1 January 2011, new Australian parents are entitled to a total of 18 weeks parental leave. The law was approved by the lower house in June 2010. The new income-tested parental insurance applies to everyone who has an employment. Previously, there were only paid parental leave for government employees.