Our veteran cartoonist Julia Meek has moved from her home in Waiheke Island to live near one of her daughters in Melbourne, Australia.
So here are some of her first impressions from across ‘the Ditch’…
Life in election-time Federal AustraliaBy Julia Meek in Melbourne
Australia is counted as a country like any other in the family of nations, but it is a continent — the only one, of the five on the planet, with a Federal Government covering the whole.
That does not mean that every Aussie thinks the same way, of course.
Far from it – as is illustrated in the shenanigans surrounding the Federal election next month.
It’s being presented to the public as Presidential -style, a fight between two individuals, Tony Abbott, for the rightwing Coalition, and Kevin Rudd for the moderately leftish, Labor. (The Greens are not given a lot of publicity in the press.
Well, that is not sensible for a start. Either leader can be ousted by the party machine instantly, as happened recently when Labor replaced Julia Gillard by Kevin Rudd, with no input from the public vote.
The Head of State is the unelected Queen of England,( whose United Kingdom is currently becoming less united) .
Quentin Bryce and her powers
Her Deputy in Australia, the Governor-General, a lady called Quentin Bryce, has the power to dissolve Parliament and dismiss the Prime Minister! How’s that for democracy? It sounds very similar to New Zealand!
I am fortunate to have landed in a very friendly suburb of Melbourne called Seddon.
It has a great community spirit and I have family nearby..If you look around at a crowd of Australians, travellers on a train, audience at a show, fans in a stadium, who do you see?
Not the fair-haired, blue-eyed descendants of Britich settlers and convicts. Today’s Australians are more likely to have ancestors from around the Meditetrranean or Asia.
The indigenous Aboriginal people are under- privileged and under-represented politically , but there they are signs of improvements… Thankfully.
Their contribution to the economic and cultural life of Australia is beyond price.
Speaking as a happy newcomer to Australia, and loving it, I am hoping that there will be some changes that will make for a better, more democratic future.
Let’s hope Australia departs from aggressive invasions of other countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan, dissociates from the US expansionism, refuses to set up concentration camps for refugees from violence in small island nations ill-equipped to deal with them, and takes on sincerely the slogan we repeat at Christmas…’Peace on earth and goodwill to all men.’