In 2015, the Australian political landscape was dominated by the Liberal/National Coalition which had been in power since 2013. Led by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the Coalition implemented a number of policies aimed at strengthening the economy and reducing unemployment. This included cutting corporate taxes and introducing a paid parental leave scheme. However, these policies proved unpopular with many voters and led to a decline in support for the Coalition in opinion polls. In September 2015, Abbott was replaced as Prime Minister by Malcolm Turnbull who promised to focus on economic growth and innovation. See ehealthfacts for Australia in the year of 2005.
The main opposition party in Australia is the Australian Labor Party (ALP) which is led by Bill Shorten. The ALP has traditionally been more left-leaning than the Coalition and has focused on increasing welfare spending, supporting renewable energy sources, and reducing inequality. In 2015, they continued to be vocal critics of government policies but were unable to make any major gains in parliament due to their fractured nature. Other minor political parties such as The Greens also competed in 2015’s elections but failed to gain any significant traction with voters.
Australia. Prime Minister Tony Abbott visited the Iraqi capital Baghdad in January, where he met with his Iraqi counterpart Haidar al-Abadi to pledge continued support in the fight against the Islamic State (IS). Australia decided in September to launch air strikes in Syria in the fight against IS following a request from the US. At the same time, the country received an additional 12,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq. According to COUNTRYAAH, Canberra is the capital of Australia which is located in Australasia.
In January, a criticism erupted against Prime Minister Abbott when Prince Philip, who is married to Australia’s Head of Queen Elizabeth II, was ousted. The media was filled with examples of how Philip did away in various contexts in Australia, and Abbott was called crazy. At the same time, measurements showed a decline in support – below 30% – for the incumbent prime minister. In the Queensland state election in January, the Social Democratic Labor won, which was seen as a humiliating loss to Abbott’s government coalition. In February, however, Prime Minister Abbott won a vote of no confidence in the Liberal government. 61 members supported him while 39 questioned him.
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In April, Australia recalled its ambassador from Indonesia after the country executed two Australian citizens convicted of drug offenses. They were arrested ten years ago when they tried to bring 8.3 kilos of heroin from Indonesia to Australia. The executions took place despite appeals for mercy from both the home countries’ governments and the UN Secretary-General as well as an intensive Twitter campaign.
In June, the government announced a 20-year plan to develop the infrastructure in Northern Australia. Among other things, transport and water supply will be improved. In the same month, demonstrations were held in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth against the government’s plans to review funding for the state of Western Australia’s 247 Aboriginal communities. Prime Minister Abbott supported a plan to shut down over a hundred of the Australian indigenous communities in the state of Western Australia unless basic social functions can be guaranteed there.
Tony Abbott lost a vote in September on who should be the Liberal Party leader and thus also lead the government. Malcolm Turnbull, who was previously Minister of Communications in the Government, received 54 votes against 44 and thus became new Prime Minister. The 60-year-old Turnbull became Australia’s fourth prime minister in two years. In conjunction with the government transformation, Australia got its first female Secretary of Defense, Marise Payne. In Turnbull’s government, the number of women increased from two to five. New Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Former Prime Minister Abbott was heavily criticized for age-old and sexist views. In November, Prime Minister Turnbull scrapped the titles knight and lady. This happened just a year after former Prime Minister Abbott reintroduced them.
The country’s refugee policy means that refugees coming to Australia by boat are sent to camps in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific nation of Nauru. They are not allowed to settle in Australia even if they are considered to have refugee grounds. In 2014, a severely criticized agreement was reached between Australia and Cambodia that Cambodia should receive refugees in exchange for increased aid. Hundreds of asylum seekers in an Australian camp on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea hunger strike in January in protest of Australia’s plan to move them to Papua New Guinea or Cambodia if they are granted refugee status. In June, four refugees, including three Iranians and one from the Burmese minority Rohingya, who were granted asylum by Australia were accepted by Cambodia.
An October report from the human rights organization Amnesty showed that Australia’s border control at sea is suspected of paying human smugglers to send back boat refugees from mainly Burma and Sri Lanka to Indonesia, although they wanted to seek asylum in New Zealand. The Border Patrol was first reported to have kept the passengers locked in cells on the Coast Guard boat for a week. The Australian government chose not to comment on the incident.
Thousands of Australians demonstrated in October against the country’s refugee policy.
The first of the 12,000 refugees that Australia promised to receive, in addition to previous commitments, arrived in the country in November. Australia had previously agreed to receive more than 13,000 refugees during the financial year 2015-16. The other places are reserved for people who have fled the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.
In March, a new law was passed that forces Internet and mobile operators to store user data for two years. The measure was part of the fight against terrorism.
A 15-year-old boy shot to death in October, aiming at several police officers at a police station in a suburb of Sydney. The boy, who was killed in connection with the gunfire, must have shouted religious slogans and the police classified the shooting as a terrorist act. Australia’s newly appointed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull advised his countrymen not to blame the violence on Muslims.
In November, Australia identified twelve people believed to be prepared to carry out terrorist attacks in the country. According to police, the twelve suspected jihadists were included in a group of 19 boys and men, seven of whom were already in prison. The other twelve were supervised by the police. Australia raised the level of terrorist threats to “high” just over a year earlier when new security laws were introduced.
In August, the government stated that it aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by between 26 and 28% by 2030 compared with the levels in 2005.
A fire raged in January in the Adelaide Hills, northeast of the big city of Adelaide. Around 500 firefighters from several states fought to put out the fire, which destroyed about 13,000 hectares of land and at least twelve residential buildings. The fire also hit the koalas. Many died and those who survived suffered severe burns on the paws. The game management organization IFAW issued a call to the public to sew special cotton mittens for the koalas.
A state investigation showed that a large number of children were subjected to sexual and psychological abuse in four of the Salvation Army’s orphanages in Australia. The abuse must have occurred between 1965 and 1977. Another investigation showed that Jehovah’s Witnesses in Australia over the past 60 years have avoided reporting over a thousand cases of child sexual abuse.
At least twelve long-legged gate whales died in March after being trapped at Bunbury, south of Perth. Whales are common in Australia, but the experts do not know why.
In July, the Australian government declared war on the country’s roughly two million wild cats. The wild cats are estimated to kill 75 million animals – per day. Therefore, two million cats should be shot or poisoned for five years, Defense Secretary Kevin Andrews announced. This caused the artist and animal lover Morrissey to collapse. In a statement, he called the Australian Government “a committee of sheep farmers”.
Australia was shaken in August by a series of serious shark attacks. In 2015, eleven shark attacks had occurred in the state of New South Wales. It can be compared with three each in 2013 and 2014.
Researchers found traces of a double meteorite in central Australia in March. The surface of the crater has been worn for many millions of years, but by drilling just over 1.5 kilometers into the ground, a 40 km wide impact area was discovered.