Talk:Australia/Archive 5

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For crying out loud, instead of continual reverts, could we discuss these blasted templates? There does seem to be a real issue with "template creep", and given that editors of other articles such as Canada have given them a speedy farewell, we might want to talk about them. Slac speak up! 23:48, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I support keeping the templates referring to Commonwealth realms and nations. If not here, then perhaps at Queen of Australia (realms) and Foreign relations of Australia (Commonwealth nations), but I'd like to leave them here, as sort of cross references. They're more relevant to the main Australia article than half the external links. The Continents template doesn't really belong here as this is a country article, not a continent article. --ScottDavis 05:26, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)
But I don't think we can create a separate Australia (Continent) article. We just need to expand the continental content, as it were. Slac speak up! 06:33, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Currently the Commonwealth template is on Foreign relations of Australia, which seems like a fair compromise. - SimonP 22:44, May 10, 2005 (UTC)

IPA notice

Does not the IPA notice in the Origin and history of the name section fragment the pronounciation paragraph? It does so in my browser. User: moved it here, but when I moved it lower again, to prevent the fragmentation, I was accussed of making a bad edit. I do think that the notice should precede the IPA langauge, but I have been unable to position it there without the fragmentation occuring. Could somebody perhaps fix it?--Cyberjunkie 05:05, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)

What the hell?

What happened to the page?!? *angry*

This should be a featured Article

I'm going to try an get this article up to featured status, please leave any suggestins here, and if you wrote sections of the article could you tell me where you got the information so I can compile a reference list. Thanks --nixie 01:51, 4 May 2005 (UTC)

The government section is a bit lacking.--Cyberjunkie 16:08, 5 May 2005 (UTC)
I think its pretty good, it shouldn't really cover anything beyond the basic structure of the government, the recently featured South Africa article had the same breakdown. I have added more info on politics and governance to the politics and states sections. Two things that do need to go into the article are Foreign relations of Australia and the Australian Defence Force and I don't know where to add them, they don't really relate to the structure of the government and they aren't really political. Any ideas?--nixie 05:59, 9 May 2005 (UTC)
Transportation and communication also need a mention, look at the roasting Portugal got recently--nixie 06:08, 9 May 2005 (UTC)
The Government section is good; I just don't like the dot point method. And I'm a bit confused with the Politics section. In most country articles, Politics is used to talk about government in general, whereas we have a separate government section. So if our Politics section is used to talk exclusively about Parliament, why then must Government only be an outline? Shouldn't it be more detailed?
In the Australian topics table, at the bottom of the page, foreign relations is included under history, but I don't think that's the right place to put it. Do you mean to write about it, or simply include a link to it as a Main article? Either way, there isn't really a corresponding section - the closest are Government and Politics.
If discussion of military is required for featured articles, a military section could be created, like in the South Africa article.
I don't know how deep we will be able to delve into transport for Australia, given it's more state-based (and in fact, state concern). I suppose we could have minor discussion on major infrastructure, like inter-state/trans-continental railways, national highways and capital city airports. Perhaps even some unique features like road-trains? Still, I doubt its necessity.
As for communication, I've never seen it written about before in a country article - not even in South Africa. That's something that could go into Economy possibly, but I don't think it needs a separate section. Actually, transport could also be included in economy.
It seems that people expect country articles to have to same layout as the CIA World Factbook, and I decidedly disagree - the factbook is hardly something to aspire to.
Anyways, thank you for the great work you've been doing. I'm sure the article will become a feature with your efforts. --Cyberjunkie 07:04, 9 May 2005 (UTC)
What do you think about the military section in France's article? I think something as simple as that could possibly be included. Actually, what do you think of the layout of the France article as a whole? Also, I have added information on Australia's maritime territory to Exclusive Economic Zone that could be included under geography, as in the France article.--Cyberjunkie 11:13, 13 May 2005 (UTC)

I merged and pruned the government and politics sections, any opinions?--nixie 05:30, 16 May 2005 (UTC)

just make sure that any of the material you deleted from these sections is either already included in one of the "main articles" either Politics of Australia or Government of Australia as appropriate so that good material doesn't get lost. clarkk 02:20, 17 May 2005 (UTC)
Could whoever said that the Queen is generally considered to be the head of state please find a source for this statement? This may have been true once, but as many Australians feel that the Governor-General is the head of state, a belief that the Queen is the head of state can hardly be considered general. Pete 22:11, 17 May 2005 (UTC)
Not this, again :/--nixie 00:37, 18 May 2005 (UTC)
You don't mind if we have everything shipshape and sourced and accurate, surely? Pete 00:38, 18 May 2005 (UTC)

The Queen is unquestionably the head of state, as regrettable as that state of affairs is—see the Constitution. Tony 14:53, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

You're right, although referencing the (written) constitution won't do you any good - it actually doesn't mention a "head of state" explicitly. But let’s not get into this again. As a newbie, you’ll no doubt be surprised to learn that this was one of the most heated/lively issues on Wikipedia. It’s resolved now, but perhaps you might like to review the archives of the Government of Australia talk page (and associated links) to learn more about it. It’s quite voluminous, however.--Cyberjunkie | Talk 15:28, 27 July 2005 (UTC)


Are the statistics provided in the infobox in US dollars or Australian? Either way, they are incorrect. I'll fix it, but I just need to know what currency is used.--Cyberjunkie 16:15, 13 May 2005 (UTC)

Not sure. This is an Australian article, so should be in AUD (can put in USD for comparison if neccessary). --Daveb 07:53, 14 May 2005 (UTC)

They're US dollars (GDP) and per capita income. Much obliged if Cyberjunkie could insert 'US'. Not sure that Australian dollars need to be cited, since it's an international comparison that's almost always expressed in US dollars. Hardly anyone will know what 'PPP' means; probably best to spell it out ('purchasing power parity')—see the CIA Factbook at

Tony 16:54, 24 July 2005 (UTC)

Australia or its commonwealth

Wouldn't it be usefull to keep the continent/island and the political structure separate? The first is far more "eternal" than the last. Only plate tectonics can "destroy" the first and it has existed for how many millions of years? On the other hand the commonwealth exists apparently since 1 January 1901. Perhaps the best solution is to change the def in the intro and redistibute its contents under the correct heading, namely politics. -MarSch 14:26, 16 May 2005 (UTC)

I disagree entirely. Australia the country and Australia the continent are one in the same. The natural features of the continent are discussed within the diverging articles of ecology and geography. Most of the continent articles focus upon the polities situated within their bounds, and for Australia, the polity encompasses it in its entirety. The article as it presently exists, is most correct.--Cyberjunkie 15:02, 16 May 2005 (UTC)

Bold main articles

I think bolding the links to main articles is really ugly, and unnecessary since the Main article:Blah is on a separate line to the blocks of text, and its not done on featured artciles, anyone mind if I reformat them?--nixie 04:38, 17 May 2005 (UTC)

Whilst I don't think it makes them appear "ugly" (actually, I think the opposite), I don't mind if it's reverted. I changed it because that seemed the standard for a growing number of articles, including features.--Cyberjunkie 04:58, 17 May 2005 (UTC)
what about using {{main|Geography of Australia}}, that would keep them standardised? clarkk 06:16, 17 May 2005 (UTC)
Sounds good --nixie 07:00, 17 May 2005 (UTC)


Is it a duplication to say displacement and also ethnic cleansing? My understanding is that the policies of ethnic cleansing (a horrid euphemism) in Australia, with regards the the Indigenous peoples, were to do with displacement (with, some argue, the occassional incidence of genocide). How should that sentence be handled?--Cyberjunkie 05:35, 17 May 2005 (UTC)

A number of articles describe the Tasmanian situation as ethnic cleansing, ethnic cleansing covers forcable removal and genocide, and I think is appropriate. --nixie 05:40, 17 May 2005 (UTC)
I've changed it to this
mainly to infectious disease, forced migration, and government policies that by todays understanding constitute genocide--nixie 06:00, 17 May 2005 (UTC)

I'm not denying it, I just wanted it described objectively without duplication of terms. My point was whether "displacement" and "ethnic cleansing" were too similar. I think the rewording works nicely.--Cyberjunkie 07:12, 17 May 2005 (UTC)

"Most of the estimated 20.3 million Australians descend from 18th and 19th century immigrants....

... most from Britain] and Ireland to begin with, but from other sources in later years" in the Demographics section seems both inaccurate and blantantly contradictory. The 19th century was over in 1899 (and 1788 was only 12 years before the end of the 18th!) At the end of the 19th century, the "later years" of non-Anglo-Irish immigration had not yet begun, and the population was still well over 90% Anglo-Irish. Moreover, is it really true to say that "most" Australians are descended from immigrants who came to Australia before 1899?? My understanding is that even many of the Anglo-surnamed Australians can trace their heritage to British immigrants who came in waves after 1900 (not to mention the non-Anglos). I'm not Australian so I'm reluctant to change in case I'm missing something, but please respond or correct. It just seems wrong. Moncrief 05:42, May 17, 2005 (UTC)

You're right, not many Australias are related to the convicts. I changed the offending sentence to Most of the estimated 20.3 million Australians descend from 19th and 20th century immigrants, and I'll see what else I can do to improve the section--nixie 05:52, 17 May 2005 (UTC)


I'm using the Innote hidden reference template, refs are inline, but commented out, and then listed in the refernce list. If you've got references to add, plase do so in that format. Thanks. ALso I put the page on peer review today --nixie 09:29, 19 May 2005 (UTC)


Is the "Origin and history of the name" section close enough to an etymology for it to be titled so? It does show from where Australia derived, but also gives a brief history. If no body is opposed, I like to retitle the section Etymology - with any necessary changes. Thoughts?--Cyberjunkie 12:00, 19 May 2005 (UTC)

The Etymology section was recently, and significantly expanded by Al-Andalus. In the revised section, it is claimed that Pedro Fernández de Quirós first discovered and named Australia. However, this claim is contradicted in the explorers own article. That article states that Quirós discovered the New Hebrides (Vanuatu), not Australia, but named an island he thought might be Terra Australis "La Austrialia del Espiritu Santo" (not La Australia as was written). The article also states that the claim that Quirós named and discovered Australia is essentially Catholic propaganda, pushed by some Australian Catholics in the 19th Century.
I have asked Al-Andalus to provide his sources so that his changes may be substantiated. Even so, I do not expect that they are factual. It may well be that Flinders was influenced by Quirós's "La Austrialia", but so far, all sources state he named Australia - and let's not forget the influence of "Terra Australis" itself.
The following is the etymology before Al-Andalus changes:
The name Australia derives from Latin australis meaning southern, and dates back to 2nd century legends of an "unknown southern land" (that is terra australis incognita). The explorer Matthew Flinders named the land Terra Australis, which was later abbreviated to the current form. Previously, when the Dutch explored the area they named it Nova Hollandicus or New Holland.
Flinders later renamed the land Australia in a chart compiled in 1804 whilst he was held prisoner by the French in Mauritius. When he returned to England and published his works in 1814 he was forced to change the name to Terra Australis by the British Admiralty. Governor Macquarie of New South Wales became aware of Flinders' preference for the name Australia and used it in his dispatches to England. In 1824 the British Admiralty finally accepted that the continent should be known officially as Australia.
Perhaps some of Al-Andalus's changes might be incorporated within the orginal etymology. I will not seek to change the section before Al-Andulus himself or others respond.--Cyberjunkie 07:26, 24 May 2005 (UTC)
  • The Pedro Fernández de Quirós article asserts that some writers (unnamed) say that he coined the word Australia, for the islands he thought would exist (Australia del Espiritu Santo). Flinders gave the name to Australia, whether or not he was influenced by Quirós is hard to say and probably doesn't need to be debated in this artilce, I think the text should be switched back.--nixie 08:03, 24 May 2005 (UTC)
Okay, will do. I would still like a response from Al-Andulus all the same.--Cyberjunkie 08:12, 24 May 2005 (UTC)


There are three images with unclear copyright information,

  • The Govenor General, it's an offical photo released by his office, and released officailly for reproduction, I see no reason why this can't be tagged as PD
  • The climate map, is listed as fair use, but I'd feel more comfortable if someone made a PD or GFDL version of this map
  • Dame Joan, is a cropped version from [1] her record company, since the company logo has been cut off the fair use claim is weak and I'm going to list it was a copyvio.

Does anyone have a suggestion for an image that can replace Dame Joan? --nixie 04:43, 25 May 2005 (UTC)

  • Port Arthur lacks copyright info too--nixie 01:06, 26 May 2005 (UTC)
The Port Arthur image is more visually appealing, but conveys much less information of a useful sort than the population graph it seems to have replaced. I'd rather see the graph go back in instead.
Secondly, if the PA image stays, is the caption correct? Most settlers were convicts? I don't know the actual numbers, but I suspect that even in the early years convicts were less than half of the total. Consider guards, administrators, early free settlers, traders, whalemen and sealers ... add them all up and the "most" might not be true. It shouldn't be too hard to look this one up and check.
Thirdly, shouldn't we have some representative landscape here on the main Australia page? That's what Australia is all about, after all. The Ularu image doesn't really count, as it just shows the Rock, and doesn't convey any real sense of the Australian landscape. I sugggest a scene from outback NSW, or something of that sort. (If desired, and if we don't have one already, I'm sure I would have something suitable I could release under the GFDL.) Tannin 01:36, 26 May 2005 (UTC)
I completely agree about the landscape, there's not much on the commons and I don't know what I'd choose as a representative scene. Mabye we shoudl also include a cityscape. I'll switch the graph back into the article now.--nixie 02:07, 26 May 2005 (UTC)
Good. I'd think that it ought to be representative of the broad geographical bulk of the continent - i.e., inland, semi-arid, fairly flat. Obviously, we can't hope to include all the landscape types in one shot, but I'll have a look to see if I have something that can convey the general picture: the mulga country out Cobar way, or something similar. Tannin 02:59, 26 May 2005 (UTC)

Infobox position

Would it be better for the infobox to start at the top of the article rather than down a page? MyNameIsNotBob 06:08, May 25, 2005 (UTC)

Recent changes

I've done a bit of cutting and removing flowery text to shorten the article, I won't take offence if you think something should go back. I also moved the topics list to a template Template:Australia topics (it was 2kb long). History, Politics and and Population and migration could still be shortened with a view to get to 40kb. --nixie 08:33, 25 May 2005 (UTC)

hi nixie, I think all of your trims/edits are fine, I would only ask that any text you trim be relocated to the relevant Main article (or other sub-article) so that good content isn't lost (or buried in the diff history). I have reclaimed a paragraph and moved into the History of Australia before 1901, for example. clarkk 11:43, 25 May 2005 (UTC)
Thanks, I had kind of assumed that the stuff from this article would already be in the longer articles. I'll be more careful--nixie 12:47, 25 May 2005 (UTC)
in a perfect world, editors would ensure that if they add to the summaries here that they would realise that those changes should be mirrored in the relevant Main article, unfortunately it is most often not so. clarkk 13:05, 25 May 2005 (UTC)

Main articles

in light of the above, I suspect all the main (or "sub")-articles, geography of..., economy of... could do with an overhaul and porting of any new text (especially any added or improved text) and any new references added that have been added in the Australia article. I started on economy of Australia. clarkk 15:35, 25 May 2005 (UTC)

Missing things

Some things that need a mention:

  • World Heritage sites, Ramsar, National Parks
  • Cuisine
  • Short explanation of the ESI to difficult to explain with brevity

--nixie 01:38, 28 May 2005 (UTC)

Constitutional Conventions

The Parliamentary Library has produced an excellent Research Note on the Governor-General's reserve powers. It is not convention that the Governor-General only acts on Ministerial advice, for example. It is the nature of the reserve powers that they are exercised without advice. The case of Prime Minister George Reid in the second Parliament is before us - nobody, least of all Reid, disputed the power of the Governor-General to refuse Reid's advice to call an election or to appoint a new Prime Minister (Deakin), both actions taken against or without advice.

Bryan Palmer's Australian Politics site provides another view of the reserve powers and lists examples of their use - eight times in all since Federation. Constitutional conventions cover more than just the limited circumstance of the Governor-General acting on advice. For example, it is a convention that Australia has a Prime Minister, even though that office is nowhere mentioned in the Constitution. Australia has been without a Prime Minister for a short time on a number of occasions following the death of an incumbent, and this could be construed as a breach of the conventions. Pete 21:03, 29 May 2005 (UTC)

  • Please keep in mind that this article is just a summary, please don't add too much here that should be discussed in the government article. --nixie 23:36, 29 May 2005 (UTC)
No problem. My edit is more concise and more accurate than what was there previously. Did you want a cite for reserve powers/conventions placed in the article? Pete 00:01, 30 May 2005 (UTC)
That's probably a good idea, if you look at the article in edit mode you should be able to work out how the footnote system works. --nixie 00:13, 30 May 2005 (UTC)
Heh! I'll do my best with my limited faculties. Pete 00:59, 30 May 2005 (UTC)

Independence/Statute of Westminster

Should the date of the Statute of Westminster in the Independence section in the infobox be the date it was adopted by the Commonwealth Parliament, rather than the date the British Parliament made it available to us, seeing as it didn't apply to Australia till it was accepted? (according to the Wikipedia article on it). If so, should it be the date it was adopted, or the date it was backdated too? Felix the Cassowary 12:57, 5 Jun 2005 (UTC)

It should clearly be 1942.Tony 05:55, 16 July 2005 (UTC)

"nominally" in religion paragraph

I keep on changing this but I am not attached to any alternative wording. Basically, I truly believe that saying 75% or so Australians are "nominally" Christian seems like an unreasonably loaded way of describing demographics and seems to imply something about these Australians which is not supported by any facts elsewhere in this article.

There is a serious point to be made here; lots of Australians may describe themselve as Christian but a much smaller portion of those are active, or even occasional, attenders of church. To give some indication about 1.5 million Australians per week attend a Christian church, according a survey. I'll add a sentence to this effect. --Robert Merkel 08:57, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Additions to history section by Anon

This article has been edited as a summary for clarity, please make additions about the discovery of Australia to the History of Australia before 1901, as they are not necessary in this article. --nixie 04:10, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)

There's no history involved in possible Portugese voyages, lost caravels and so on. It may well have happened, but as no records remain, it cannot be history. Archaeology, perhaps, if anybody ever finds the ship. Worth a mention somewhere, because it's eminently plausible (and there's that tantalising mystery of the "Mahogany Ship"), but not in this article. Pete 05:12, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I agree with Pete. Tannin 08:04, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)


I recently made some changes to the article, re-adding a reference and information on the republic referendum. In re-adding the reference, I think I may have messed up the existing ones when amending the numbering. Could somebody check if this is so and let me know whether I need to revert my changes.--Flag of Australia.svg Cyberjunkie 12:19, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Yep, they're all messed up, one problem with this ref system is that numbering needs to be manually changed and some of the refs are used more than once. I'll revert and add the referendum ref to the history section and adjust the notes (I'm getting good at it)--nixie 12:35, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Thanks nixie. I really should have reviewed Footnote 4 before fiddling around and buggering it up. --Flag of Australia.svg Cyberjunkie 14:09, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Aboriginal population

The article shows an increase of about 300% in 24 years. Obviously this can't have come from immigration, and I haven't done the maths, but I think that the birthrate needed to sustain this sort of increase is pretty much beyond any human population. The large and anomalous increase is mostly because Aboriginal Australians now feel far more comfortable about declaring their Aboriginality on census forms - a very positive sign IMHO, which says a lot about changing community perceptions. Reductions in infant mortality and increases in longevity also account for a portion of the increase. I think that the article should mention this because otherwise someone's going to say "hey, they must breed like rabbits!" and that's not the case. I've added a hypenated word to help explain this, but it's really a subject that deserves more detail, which may be inappropriate in this "overview" article. Pete 07:25, 18 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Aboriginal hunter/gatherers...

WRT Skyring's last edit, there's archaeological evidence to suggest that in some places near rivers Aboriginal people farmed fish. --Robert Merkel 07:30, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)

From my understanding they also had pretty extensive trade routes--nixie 07:42, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Sure, but trade routes and fish traps don't make for agriculture. The only indigenous Australians to be farmers were the TSI folk, who had plots of land marked out by stones and passed down through family lines, which was the incontrovertible evidence of ownership needed for Mabo. Perhas we can say "Most indigenous Australians were hunter-gatherers..." Actually, I'd really like some specific mention of the way that TSI folk cultivated their land and grew crops, because it's important to understanding Mabo, and why it was such an injustice to say that these people didn't own the land they'd farmed for centuries. Pete 07:52, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I think we are talking about more than a simple fish trap here. We are talking extensive construction - i.e., fish farming. Certainly that was the case in South-west Victoria, and I believe that there was similar activity up along the Murray. Tannin 08:01, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Interesting article, and thanks for the link. However it's still fish traps rather than fish farming. Eels are oceanic creatures for most of their existence. You can't farm eels, you can only catch them as they migrate up or down the rivers. Digging out channels between ponds would make it easier to catch them as they moved along the channels.
The existence of circular foundations for huts is actually more interesting. You don't build substantial housing unless you plan to stay there for more than a few nights. I think that saying there was enough of an industry in catching and smoking eels to sustain a village of hundreds of houses, making for a permanent community of up to a thousand individuals, is a bit of a stretch, however. Presumably they also caught other wildlife from the wetlands and perhaps traded with more distant tribes. A thousand people eat a lot of tucker.
But even if you have an aquaculture industry, exporting smoked eels across Australia, which sounds reasonably plausible, just what percentage of the Aboriginal population would have been engaged in such pursuits? And if it was a viable lifestyle, why didn't it persist until historic times?
Anyway, I think the wording of "Most indigenous Australians were hunter-gatherers..." works better than the "primarily hunter-gatherers" phrase because the former includes TSI people as well as the eel-smokers and doesn't give the impression that all Aboriginal Australians were sometimes farmers, which is definitely not the case.
Comments? Or am I making a meal out of a word or two, as I tend to do? Pete 08:50, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I've added a sentence distinguishing the TSI from the mainland native people, since they are completely distinct. --nixie 09:08, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Yes. I've had a bit of a tweak, but maybe it can be improved still more. It's perhaps a bit of a quibble to note that the TSI folk also lived on the mainland - they were gradually expanding southwards at the time of European settlement. However, that's probably best left to a specific article - this one is getting a bit longish and I'm thinking it doesn't need more material so much as arranging what we have better, eliminating redundancies if any can be identified. Pete 09:25, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Eels are not usually oceanic, Pete. The eel species in question is the Short-finned Eel. Like most others, it spends by far the greater part of its lifecycle in a home range area, typically a lake or a stretch of river. It makes just two migrations: in the first it travels from its oceanic hatching ground far off in the tropical South Pacific and winds up in a river close to the one where its parents lived. (How? Nobody knows.) At this time it's about the size of a bootlace only shorter, and not practical as a food fish (although some people in Europe eat elvers - it's a shocking waste of natural resources, but there you go).
The second migration occurs only after 15-odd years of growth in a lake or river: the mature eel travels downstream to spawn. Eels of a size worth eating, in other words, migrate once and once only: a one-way trip to the sea, then north to the Solomon Islands where they spawn and die. Catching salmon on the way upsteam to spawn would make sense, but salmon work the opposite way around to eels; salmon are oceanic fish that just happen to breed in rivers, where eels are freshwater fish that just happen to breed at sea.
Back to the topic now: my view is subject to persuasion, but it seems obvious to me that we are never going to come up with a formulation simple enough to use in this context, and yet accurate enough to stand criticsm. It might be better to resolve this point on a page where there is room to deal with it properly. Australian Aborigine or History of Australia before 1901 both seem suitable. Tannin 09:42, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)


  • While were at it, someone has objected to the article being featured on the basis that it doesn't discuss racism in Australia. I was thinking of adding something after this sentence In the 2001 census the five largest groups of Australians born overseas were from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Italy, Vietnam and China from the demographic section. But I can't think of what to add, since the whole Hanson episode there has definately been a push for mulitcultural Australia but I'm lost for a way to describe it.--nixie 09:27, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)

My feeling is that there is very little racism remaining in normal life, compared to a decade ago. It's just not that much of a problem that I can see. Lebanese gangs in Sydney, but I suspect a lot of that is talkback beat up. Pete 10:40, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Why "Commonwealth" instead of "Dominion?"

Based upon comparing the governments of the Dominion of Canada and the Commonwealth of Australia, I don't really understand the differences. The idea of a Commonwealth seems to compare directly with that of a Republic, so if the Queen of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Queen of Australia, how can one style Australia a Commonwealth? Would it not be a Dominion as is the case for Canada? And would not the States of Australia likewise be provinces? I honestly don't understand the differences between each of these and if someone could explain them to me, it would be greatly appreciated. Mdkarazim 2 July 2005 03:19 (UTC)

no. australia is not a dominion of the united kingdom. the queen of australia is a different person than the queen of the united kingdom in law. However, it realy doesnt make much difference what you call a place. But you should have complained 106 years ago when they made Australia. Xtra 2 July 2005 03:59 (UTC)
A different way of answering the question... The King of Great Britain and Ireland [sic] was the King of Australia at the time of its creation (the constitution refers to a Queen, Queen Victoria, but she died in between the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act (UK) receiving the royal assent and coming into force). In the leadup to federation, there had been some debates about being a republic, but those who had a say were generally in favor of remaining a British colony. I don't really know why 'Commonwealth' was chosen over any other term. Although it was originally a calque of Republic, it hasn't always been used with the same meaning as Republic has nowadays. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was an elective monarchy. Australia is a federation; the Commonwealth of Nations is an organisation of states (I spose Australia's definition as a federation opened the doors for it to be used for an organisation of what were originally all monarchies). Edit: in America 'Commonwealth' is used to mean, for whatever reason, something along the lines of colony/territory, but I understand that's a twentieth-century development and not part of the justification for Australia's name. I don't know the justification for Australia's title, though. (Australia was of course still a dominion during its early history; now the correct term is a commonwealth Realm.)
  • The States of Australia are so named because our federation was modelled on the United States; other similarities include the names of our federal parliament (the House of Representatives and the Senate) and that residual powers are granted to the States (whereas in Canada they go to the Federal government).
  • Canada, on the other hand, was formed in opposition to the US. There are also various (theoretical/legal) differences between the Australian States and the Canadian Provinces, such as their head of state (the Canadian Provinces' practical heads of state are the Lieutenant Governors, representatives of the Governor General, representative of the Queen, appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister; the Australian States' pracitcal heads of state are the Governors, representatives of the Queen, appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Premiers).
  • Finally, while the US States which were earlier British colonies as well as the Canadian Provinces were both styled 'province' before their federations (e.g. the Province of New York), the Australian States were called 'colony' (the Colony of Victoria). Evidently they needed to be renamed, and why choose the Canadian 'Province' when the American 'State' was the model?
  • It should also be noted that 'province' has had some currency in the Australasian colonies/Australian states + New Zealand. New Zealand had subdivisions called provinces, and Victoria's legislative council (upper house) electorates have been called provinces until the next redistribution.
I hope that gives you some insight into why they're called 'states' and not 'provinces'.
Felix the Cassowary 2 July 2005 10:23 (UTC)

Several territories?

There are only two territiories who elect representatives into Senate.

What are the other territories? Can we just say six states and two territiries?The preceding unsigned comment was added by Alex Bakharev (talk • contribs) 07:36, 12 July 2005. diff

Racial discrimination???

I think statement that modern Australia has Racial Discirimination is an extreme POV. Perceived racial discriminations are much better.The preceding unsigned comment was added by Alex Bakharev (talk • contribs) 15:53, 12 July 2005. diff

Fine, but I took the comment about refugees out, wihtout some serious comparative context the comment is of little consequence.--nixie 06:37, 12 July 2005 (UTC)

Agree abakharev 07:24, 12 July 2005 (UTC)

The opening two paragraphs

Although many people regard 'Commonwealth of Australia' as an obsolescent term—an undesirable hangover from colonial days—it looks as though we'll have to put up with it as is, emblazoned TWICE across the top of the article, and several times in the rest of the text. One or more contributors clearly feel strongly about highlighting this term. While it IS embedded in the constitution, if we restricted ourselves to constitutional terminology, we'd have to give up words such as 'cabinet' and 'prime minister'. In addition, 'Commonwealth Realm' is, frankly, an arcane term that won't mean much to most readers; I don't understand why some contributors are doggedly insistent on retaining it. These terms create the wrong impression right at the start, in my view.

Aside from that, I'm concerned that the second paragraph of a substantial article on Australia mentions Boigu Island and crossing of the waterway between PNG and Australia; these matters would be better located much further down in the text, to leave the opening as 'broad brush-strokes'. Why not tack the first sentence—'Australia's neighbouring countries include Indonesia, East Timor, and Papua New Guinea to the north, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east, and New Zealand to the south-east'—onto the end of the opening para, and relocate the rest?

Tony 06:27, 16 July 2005 (UTC)

"Commonwealth of Australia" is not an obsolescent term - it is the name of the legal entity of the government. For example copyright is held by the Commonwealth of Australia, not the Government of Australia or an individual department (which don't have a separate legal existance). Contracts are signed on behalf of the Commonwealth, not any other term.
Our status as a Commonwealth Realm is also an important part of the overall description of Australia as the country it is today.
Boigu Island does seem relevant in the sentence about our closest neighbours, which is appropriate at the top. I think the sentence should remain, even if the name (and link) to the particular island were to be dropped. The last sentence about border crossing could be moved to Foreign Relations, and expanded to cover other "traditional use" conditions, such as with Indonesia around Ashmore Reef. --ScottDavis 09:49, 16 July 2005 (UTC)

So, if no one objects, in a week or so I'll do just this: remove the reference to Boigu Island, and relocate the reference to border crossing. Tony 03:00, 17 July 2005 (UTC)

Someone has objected: ScottDavis has stated he believes the sentence on Boigu Island should remain. He is, however, un-opposed to moving the information on border crossing to a daughter article. For my part, I agree with Scott. Boigu is relevant in a sentence about neighbouring nations. I am ambivalent on the reference to border crossing - it is harmless where it is, but it would perhaps be better placed in a relevant article of section.
With regards to the use of Commonwealth, I have already responded to your objections. I am posting those comments here as they are relevant.
I removed this term because it is obsolete. I removed 'Commonwealth of' from the title of the country because, although embedded in the federal constitution, this term is a hangover from colonial days, and made the opening more difficult to read, particularly for foreigners. Tony 15:01, 14 July 2005 (UTC)
Well, that's odd. It's not obosolete in the slightest, and is in every day usage in reference to the Commonwealth (ie federal) Government and its instrumentalities. Also, I find your claim that it is "a hangover from the colonial days" particularly odd given it first found usage at Federation and has no connexions to any of the colonies (and province). The article has been made a feauture, meaning it has been identified by many Wikipedians as one of our best. Not once during the extensive FAC process was the article described "difficult to read" or incomprehensible. The full style is used only sparingly in the article, and generally only to differentiate the Commonwealth (as an legal enitity/polity) from Australia at large. This is an important distinction, and I ask you not to change it again...--Cyberjunkie | Talk 15:22, 14 July 2005 (UTC) (this isn't the complete comment, see my talk)
I'll make further comment on this below.--Cyberjunkie | Talk 09:57, 18 July 2005 (UTC)

All featured countirs have a description of neighbouring countries in the lead, I don't see any problem with the Boigu Island reference, since it indicates how close Australia is to PNG.--nixie 10:16, 18 July 2005 (UTC)

Yes, but not about individual border crossing points. Boigu Island just strikes me as out of place in the intro. Slac speak up! 07:08, 26 July 2005 (UTC)

It certainly is out of place in such a prominent position in the article. Who has ever heard of Boigu Island? Why is it so important? Can it not possibly go into the section on geography? Tony 15:15, 26 July 2005 (UTC)

Demography, economy

I think the explanation of the economy is weak, or at least incomplete. I've added something about the tax system, but more is required to characterise the Australian economy, particularly in relation to other OECD countries.

Demography needs beefing up with respect to education.

I wonder whether we could remove the bit about AusLan (sign language), which is well and truly being superseded by other methods, including the Cochlear implant. Many hearing-impaired people claim that sign languages are retained only as a result of sentimentality.

Tony 07:29, 16 July 2005 (UTC)

Tony this article is a summary, I think any significant expansion should take place in the Economy of Australia and the Education in Australia articles which are sorely in need of attention. Ideally this article would stay under 41kb. Auslan is only mentioned since it is an offical language.
On your other points the Commonwealth of Australia is the offical name of the country and the country is a commonwealth realm, it is -important- to point these things out in the lead.--nixie 07:37, 16 July 2005 (UTC)

'Commonwealth of Australia' currently appears TWICE at the top. Surely once is enough. The Howard government has quietly dropped the C word over the last six months, and now uses 'the Australian government'. Many readers will be confused by the use of 'Commonwealth' in two quite different senses at the top (this, plus the 'realm' bit). Very confusing; why not simplify it? Why the redundancy?

Auslan is not worth mentioning, in my view, particularly since the article is close to its limit in size. If Auslan is an official language, that's ... well ... quaint. Is it mentioned in other articles on nations? Tony 11:45, 16 July 2005 (UTC)

How is it an issue that Commonwealth of Australia is used twice, when both references are correct. It is the official name and the states federated to form the Commonwealth, not Australia. Furthermore, the Howard Government did not disown the word "Commonwealth". They simply established a branding format. Previously, government departments were between US-style individual logos and, well, no style. It was decided that a simple "logo" should be applied universally across departments and (most) departmental logos phased out (like the ATO logo). The "logo", as can be seen on most government websites, consists of the Coat of Arms, the name of the department, and "Australian Government" immediately beneath it. Government departments have rarely ever been titled "Commonwealth Department of" (etc), so this is hardly a huge leap. The only government that ever tried to get rid of the official styling and usage of "Commonwealth" was the Whitlam Government, and most of the changes made by said government were reversed by the subsequent Fraser Government.--Cyberjunkie | Talk 10:09, 18 July 2005 (UTC)
The first paragraph is fine as it is. The largest "issue" I have is that "federation" and "federated" link to different articles, and federation does not have a link to Federation of Australia. If the government recognises Auslan as a language of Australia, that seems a significant point to me, so should stay, too. --ScottDavis 12:43, 16 July 2005 (UTC)
I thought Auslan was just recognised as a community language, rather than anything special. (I don't know what a community language is in context, but I presumed it was along the lines of Vietnamese or Chinese used by Vietnamese or Chinese immigrants.) OTOH, tmk there are still deaf people who can't hear at all—if they don't use Auslan, how do they communicate?
Auslan is notable in a section about languages in Australia as it is a language unique to the country (though it is related to NZSL and BSL) - similarly Aboriginal languages are notable, though the numbers of speakers are relatively small. For information about Auslan's recognition by the Austalian government see the Auslan page. I think one paragraph out of 30-odd is not excessive to describe language in Australia and the paragraph should not be shortened. -- ntennis 02:20, 17 July 2005 (UTC)

The hearing impaired now tend to use cochlear implants combined with lip-reading. Sign is not dead yet, but will be in 20 years' time.

On the C word, I note that the article on Canada doesn't announce all over the place that the nation is called 'Dominion of Canada'. No one has responded to my point about the double meaning of the C word: in the same para it's used in the Australian consitutional sense, and to refer to the British C of Nations. This will confuse many readers, particularly foreigners. Shouldn't the distinction in meaning be explicit here, if, as people appear to insist doggedly, the C word is retained? Tony 03:04, 17 July 2005 (UTC)

'locally' in the bit about the pronunciation of 'Australia'

JPD, if you want to retain the word, tell us what it means. Do you mean 'by Australians'? Tony 09:14, 18 July 2005 (UTC)

Well, that would be the obvious assumption.--Cyberjunkie | Talk 09:31, 18 July 2005 (UTC)
I took it to mean that the sentence was talking about normal Australian pronunciations. There are plenty of other ways it is pronounced, so some sort of clarification is necessary. If you have a more pedantic way of saying it, fine, but "pronounced locally as ..." is usually meant in that way. JPD 11:38, 18 July 2005 (UTC)

There are 'local' pronunciations within Australia. 'Local' pronunciation of the word in Los Angeles is no doubt different. 'by Australians' is clearer, so I'll change it accordingly. Cyberjunkie, I perceive a slight dissatsifaction on your part. I'm trying to achieve clarity, neutrality, and precision; I'm surprised that you don't think debate at this level of detail is necessary. Tony 15:59, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

No dissatisfaction at all. I just thought it rather obvious. In an article about Australia, one would rightly assume that "locally" meant within Australia. In any case, Slac amended the offending sentence so that it instead reads "The word Australia is pronounced in Australian English as..", which I agree sounds better and should be satisfactory. There is no ill-feeling on my part, so I do apologise if you got that impression. As for debate on detail, I don't see how I am opposed to that. I welcome it.-- Cyberjunkie | Talk 16:23, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

I agree—Slac's amendment is better. Tony 02:21, 23 July 2005 (UTC)

Brisbane - fastest growing?

Last I heard, it was overtaken by Sydney. Can anyone give us an up-to-date reference on the claim that it is the fastest-growing capital city? Otherwise, the photo caption is potentially inaccurate. Slac speak up! 02:25, 19 July 2005 (UTC)

Of the capital city SDs (statistical divisions), Brisbane was the fastest growing capital city in Australia between 1998 and 2003, increasing by an average 2% per year, followed by Perth (1.4%) and Darwin and Melbourne (each 1.3%). ABS 2005 yearbook. Since the ABS has the best data and people to analyse it, I'll go with their analysis of the numbers.--nixie 02:34, 19 July 2005 (UTC)

References to the 2001 census

There are numerous references to this census in the article, and in places it becomes a little repetitive. I wonder whether editors agree that one reference, where the issue first occurs, might be enough—something like '..., on which most of the demographic and economic statistics in this article are based', would be neater. I note that many statements in the article are not referenced to a source (which is quite reasonable). Tony 03:03, 23 July 2005 (UTC)

There is a general rule to aviod self-referential descriptions in Wikipedia articles. The 2001 census it is mentioned several times, and there is a footnote for the 2001 census which could just replace the offending phrases where they get annoying.--nixie 01:38, 24 July 2005 (UTC)

Unique Australian Foods

I have a problem with this line in the current article:

Uniquely Australian foods include the Tim Tam biscuit and the salty yeast spread Vegemite.

Vegemite is a trademark or specific brand of salty yeast spread, of which there are several brands worldwide including Marmite, which is most common brand of yeast spread in the UK.

The concept of a salty yeast spread is rare or largely unheard of in the USA, but that fact does not make the food stuff unique to Australia.

'Australasia' in the first sentence

'... Australia is a country in the southern hemisphere comprising the major land area of Australasia. It includes the entire continent of Australia and a number of islands, the largest of which is Tasmania.'

The all-important first sentence introduces what will be an unfamiliar term to most foreign, and some Australian readers: 'Australasia'. The term is unfortunately similar to the name of the country, and involves a level of detail that I think is undesirable at the opening of the article. If it's necessary to educate readers about the term, why not relocate it further down, in the section on Geography, where a link will be less disruptive to the flow. Doing that would allow the opening to be something like:

'... Australia is a country in the southern hemisphere comprising the entire continent of Australia and a number of islands, the largest of which is Tasmania.'

Shorter, simpler, more direct, it states the most important points about the location of the country without this interesting, but tangential point.

Does anyone object?

Tony 16:42, 24 July 2005 (UTC)

Since I objected to removing "Commonwealth" and Boigu Island, I guess I better say I support this change. --ScottDavis 00:11, 26 July 2005 (UTC)
Generally, country articles include in the introduction a reference to the region in which they are located. That said, I think your suggestion is suitable, although not on the grounds that it is "confusing" (this is Wikipedia: people follow links to learn). Australasia is more a political (and ecological) term than geographical, so in that respect, it is not necessary.--Cyberjunkie | Talk 05:10, 26 July 2005 (UTC)
If people can't find "the continent of Australia" in the southern hemisphere on a world globe, telling them it's the major landmass of either Australasia or Oceania is unlikely to help! --ScottDavis 09:27, 26 July 2005 (UTC)


I've had another go at this section. I think it should be renamed 'Government'. Only the last bit refers to politics; the section is largely to do with the structure of the nation's governmental institutions.

Tony 15:38, 25 July 2005 (UTC)

Most of the neighbouring country articles have a "Politics" section which talks about government as well, but the subsidiary article is just Politics of country. We have two subsidiary articles, so the section could be "Government and politics" (PNG has "Politics and Government" with no subsidiary article). Perhaps "Politics" has a subtly different meaning in Australian English that makes us wish to explicitly separate government from politics. --ScottDavis 00:20, 26 July 2005 (UTC)
The section has been called both government and politics. And at one point there was both a government and politics section. I called the section politics in line with the WikiProject:Countries guidelines, which suggests
Politics - Short overview of the current governmental system, possibly previous forms, some short notes on the parliament. Link to article "Politics of X", and also to "Foreign relations of X".
So it's called politics but basically refers to political institutions etc, rather that the stuff politicians do. Government could also be a misleading term since one might expect a section called that to be a disussion of the current governemt, which the section isn't. --nixie 00:47, 26 July 2005 (UTC)

I agree with your points, nixie; however, the current title appears to be inappropriate, as does 'Government'. Does the article have to follow the guidlelines you cite? Could the section be renamed, for example, 'Political institutions'?

Tony 03:20, 26 July 2005 (UTC)

The guidelines are just guidelines, but the majority of the featured countires call this section politics. Political institutions isn't bad. What do other people think?--nixie 03:27, 26 July 2005 (UTC)

And I note that this section deals exclusively with federal institutions, rather than those of the other two levels of government. I wonder whether this should be flagged in the title for foreign readers. I also note that local government is mentioned nowhere. Perhaps one sentence in the States and Territories sentence, since local government is created and maintained by state and territory legislation?

Tony 15:21, 26 July 2005 (UTC)

OED: politics:

 • plural noun usu. treated as sing. 1 the activities associated with governing a country or area, and with the political relations between states. 

Most other dictionaries have similar definitions, all of which would include the structures of government. I think you must be using a narrower meaning of the word. I definitely support mention of local government, and moving the states and territories section to follow on from the politics section. JPD 15:46, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

The bit about the GG—reserve powers, prime minister, etc.

I'm not entirely sure that the current wording is appropriate:

'although the Constitution gives extensive executive powers to the Governor-General, they are used only on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Governor-General's "reserve powers" are seldom exercised, the most notable example being to end the Australian constitutional crisis of 19755.'

The prime minister is not mentioned in the Constitution, which holds that the GG is advised by the Executive Council. I wonder whether it's safer to be less specific here, i.e., by referring to 'the government' rather than the prime minister?

In addition, Kerr's use of his reserve powers 'to end the constitutional crisis' might not be neutral enough: some people would assert that rather than "ending" the constitutional crisis of 1975, his actions created one out of what had been merely a political crisis that was, in any case, about to be resolved in the Senate. I personally don't take sides on this historical issue, but I think the text could steer through this more safely.

Proposed new text:

although the Constitution gives extensive executive powers to the Governor-General, in practice, these are referred to as "reserve powers" and are used only on the advice of the government. The most notable example of the use of these powers was with respect to the Australian constitutional crisis of 19755.

What do people think?

Tony 03:34, 26 July 2005 (UTC)

Your suggestion simlifies the matter nicely :) --nixie 03:37, 26 July 2005 (UTC)
Simple, but wrong. As far as I know, the Prime Minister was not sacked on advice of the government. --ScottDavis 09:34, 26 July 2005 (UTC)

How about:

Although the Constitution gives extensive executive powers to the Governor-General, in practice these are normally exercised only on the "advice" of the Prime Minister. The most notable exercise of the Governor-General's "reserve powers" outside the Prime Minister's direction was in to order the Prime Minister's dismissal in the constitutional crisis of 1975.

Don't know if that's any better. Slac speak up! 11:07, 26 July 2005 (UTC)

With the minor correction above. This version looks OK to me. --ScottDavis 11:26, 26 July 2005 (UTC)
Drop the quotes round 'advice' and 'reserve powers', and alter the last bit to be '... was to dismiss the Prime Minister...'. Felix the Cassowary 13:40, 26 July 2005 (UTC)

So, I'll write in the following, hoping that it's consensual (I'm pretty happy with it):

Although the Constitution gives extensive executive powers to the Governor-General, these are normally exercised only on the advice of the Prime Minister. The most notable exercise of the Governor-General's reserve powers outside the Prime Minister's direction was the dismissal of the Prime Minister in the constitutional crisis of 1975.

Tony 15:30, 26 July 2005 (UTC)


I don't mind removing the bit about cuisine, but in terms of their unique contribution to Australian culture, the ABC and SBS are worthy of mentioning by name. Apart from the BBC, the ABC is the only public broadcaster of its type, plays an important role in the life and politics of the nation, and has been a significant force in local TV production. The commercial networks, by contrast, do not seem to me to be uniquely Australian in their contribution, and currently occupy considerably more space in the paragraph (including the citing of particular programs).

I wonder whether we can go back to (shorter) references to these two institutions?

And can the reference to Harvey Krumpet be removed? Sure, it's important and received an award, but why single it out over the multitude of good stuff that Australia has produced?

I'm also not sure why 'one' of the two national newspapers is mentioned by name. Surely this link can be found in one of the daughter articles on Australia.

Tony 05:30, 26 July 2005 (UTC)

Reference 14

I can't find any reference to life expectancies in Reference 14; why are both genders mentioned as 17 years lower? I'm sure these figures are not exactly the same for both genders. Can someone enlighten me?

'Indigenous Australians have higher rates of imprisonment and unemployment, lower levels of education and life expectancies for males and females that are 17 years lower than those of other Australians14. Perceived racial inequality is an ongoing political and human rights issue for Australians.'

Tony 15:10, 26 July 2005 (UTC)

It should be ref 12, from the ABS:

Indigenous population is reflected in life expectancy at birth, which for Indigenous males and females born in the 1996-2001 period was 59.4 years and 64.8 years respectively; approximately 17 years less for both males and females than the life expectancy of all Australian males and all females born in the 1997-1999 period. [2]
--nixie 23:07, 26 July 2005 (UTC)


Can we please remove the paragraph on cuisine, which seems all too superificial: 'oh, we have Indian cuisine here, and we even cook it in our own kitchens'; bit parochial, given that there's been an internationalisation of cuisine in many industrial countries over the last few decades. Tim Tams and Vegemite—well, if we have to cite these brands to bolster our sense of national identity, something's wrong, but I guess they could be tacked on somewhere else if someone insists. I've not acted on this, pending other people's opinions.

Tony 15:34, 26 July 2005 (UTC)

The paragraph is a bit lacking, although there is doubtless something to be said about Australian cusine. Perhaps someone amongst us knows a thing or two about cuisine and could expand/rewrite it? From what little I know on the subject, I understand that Australia has pioneered in blended/modern cuisine, known here as "fusion cuisine". Some discussion on unique foodstuffs wouldn't go astray either, though you're right, if we're only invoking Vegemite we have things to worry about. How about native foods and/or produce and their place domestically and internationally. For instance, Australia is one of the largest wine producers in the world (fifth, I think), so why not mention that? What about native Macadamia nuts, one of the most expensive in the world? And so on. However, this is a summary article, so any such talk would need to be brief. --Cyberjunkie | Talk 15:57, 26 July 2005 (UTC)

I agree with Cyberjunkie's points. But let's get rid of it unless someone comes up with something good to replace Tim Tams and talk of Indian food. I'm also mindful of the transitional opinion during the 70s, at the start of mulitculturalism, that stressed how Australia was benefiting from non-anglophone immigration through the proliferation of foreign restaurants. It ended up being just a little racist, and was much sent-up by Edna Everage, among others. I really don't think Australia can boast of much innovation in cuisine, at least not major, home-grown innovation. The wine industry is large and successful, but so are many other fine-product industries in this coutry, and fine wine is produced by many other countries. It's a 'so what' thing.

There are more important matters in other areas that cuisine is pushing out, because of the 40mb limit. For example, virtually nothing is said about Australian English, despite ample secondary (and primary) sources. Any claim the uniquely Australian should probably START there, perhaps as a brief paragraph under 'Culture', incorporating the current stuff about literature. It's a rich and interesting variety of English.

Tony 02:35, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

Actually, just on the article size, we could cut it down by moving the Infobox to a separate template. Doing so would remove the imposing syntax at the begining of the article (in edit mode), which I've read off-puts newbies. The only drawback is that many don't know how to access templates to edit. Thoughts? --Cyberjunkie | Talk 03:28, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

I never liked the cuisine section (I wrote it so I'm allowed to say that), like a transport section, there really anything that makes Australian food exceptional. On moving the infobox onto a template, I'm not sure if there is an offical poilcy on sticking single use templates in the templates namespace, but if we did do that - it is possible to include an edit link in the template like this <div style="float:right;"> ''[URL to edit template space edit]''</div>. It'll probably free up 1-2kb. See it in action here {{WikiProjectCSBTasks}}

I think that if the article was to get significantly longer it would kind of cease to be a summary article, an article like this needs to be digestable. As I've said before its the daughter article that are in serious need of attention.--nixie 03:38, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

Were you endorsing the template thing then? I don't know of any guidelines on infobox templates either, but I have seen it done in many articles (although only a couple country articles do it). I'll add an edit link to the end of the infobox if I transfer it.--Cyberjunkie | Talk 05:52, 27 July 2005 (UTC)
I don't mind one way or the other. Having it on a template may make it a bit easier to update.--nixie 07:13, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

Re-order sections?

Does anyone object to the relocation of 'Foreign relations and military' from before to after 'States and territories'? Currently the reader has to veer from federal political institutions to foreign relations then back to state and territory political institutions. Foreign relations was probably placed after the federal stuff because they are a federal matter, but that's probably not a good enough reason for juxtaposing these two sections. Federal responsibility for foreign relations is not mentioned anywhere, and there's mention of other federal responbilities much further down in the article. Tony 15:47, 26 July 2005 (UTC)

Word-initial upper or lower case for positions?

Currently, the article is inconsistent in this respect. Under 'States and territories', the words 'governor-general', 'governor', 'administrator', 'premiers', and 'chief ministers' all start with a lower-case letter; under 'Politics', all positions have been changed back to word-initial upper case letters.

In the major anglophone countries—and possibly more widely still—there is a significant and increasing tendency to use lower-case initials where possible when referring to job positions, even very senior ones, such as 'senator' and 'prime minister' (but apparently excepting 'the Queen'). I fought this for a while, but have given in: most style guides recommend maximising the use of lower case in this respect; and it was pointed out to me by a subeditor at the Sydney Morning Herald that consistent application of upper case leads to awkward usage, such as 'He's a Cleaner/Garbage Collector for Geelong City Council'. Similarly, lower case would apply to 'the Tasmanian parliament', and possibly even to 'the senate', although I feel the need to research those two.

I now think that maximising lower case is easier on the eyes and in the spirit of plain English; thus, I'd opt to apply it to the article. However, whatever people think, there should be consistent usage.

Sorry to badger about small aspects of usage, but perhaps it's a healthy sign that most of the larger issues have been resolved. What do other people think?

Tony 15:28, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

They were originally consistent until you changed began changing them to lower-case. Changing an article’s existing style is generally frowned upon (a point which I have made to you on another talk page). Australian English, as derived from British English, tends towards capitalisation. This article should correspond with that notion. The stylistic preferences of other countries in the Anglosphere need not have any bearing.
The trend of using lower-case initials is really only established in the newspaper medium (especially in those owned by News Corp). This is most probably because of the pervasive influence of American English and a general tendency to dumb down (diacritics, anyone?). Personally, I regard the newspaper method (and the “style” manuals they use) as horrendous. Wikipedia caters for those desiring “plain” English through the Simple English Wikipedia.
For the most part, (other media and) academia will favour capitalisation. This (obviously) is also my preference. I am particularly against specific references to ‘the Parliament’ being de-capitalised. I would like to see the original consistency restored.--Cyberjunkie | Talk 16:34, 27 July 2005 (UTC)
General usage is lower-case in the general and upper-case initial in the specific. The Queen is a queen. The Prime Minister is a prime minister. SoxFan 20:30, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

Cyberjunkie: (1) Can you provide references to support your claim that AusEng, BrEng, academia, and 'other [non-press] media' tend towards capitalisation? (2) Can you apprise us of the logical connection between minimising the use of upper-case letters in these contexts, and 'dumbing down'. (3) Will you consider avoiding the appearance of being bossy on this page, which I've noticed on three occasions—e.g., 'a point which I have made to you on another talk page' might be viewed as aggressive and unnecessarily personal.

Tony 07:48, 28 July 2005 (UTC)

I don’t think I’m being “bossy”. While my response was mostly mere posturing, it was also my opinion. I fail to see how mentioning a related comment is “aggressive and unnecessarily personal”. I wasn’t sure if you had read it. Seemingly, however, you dislike my approach (or me) and in this respect, I will be especially careful in future conversations with you. Still, I have only ever offered suggestions.
I would think it common knowledge that AusE and BE (as opposed to AmE) tend towards capitalisation; indeed, Wikipedia states so in its Manual of Style. And I can also refer you to many a text that capitalise the words in question. But why question this? You didn’t think it necessary to source your claim that “in the major anglophone countries—and possibly more widely still—there is a significant and increasing tendency to use lower-case initials”. Also, I think you’ve read my reference to the “dumbing down” phenomenon out of context. I was simply making an observation that the overall tendency to “dumb down” is one that seeks to make language plainer.
I can agree (and I think my preference corresponds) with SoxFan’s statement “that General usage is lower-case in the general and upper-case initial in the specific. The Queen is a queen. The Prime Minister is a prime minister.” insofar as that would mean senators and members would be de-capitalised and the Parliament, the Prime Minister and the G-G (when specifically referred to) would be capitalised. I am still inclined to capitalise the States, but will let others’ decide. Commonwealth and the Senate should be capitalised in all instances (if there they were in doubt).--Cyberjunkie | Talk 09:02, 28 July 2005 (UTC)

While I don't agree with your line on capitalisation (or your comment on Plain English), in the spirit of compromise, I'll go through and ensure consistency. Yes, I do think you come over as bossy and defensive in places; why posture, as you put it? We shouldn't be game-playing, just making the text better. I'd appreciate a greater emphasis on teamwork and mutual support. There's no reason for posturing by (here I AM being personal) a writer/editor as talented as you clearly are. Tony 11:16, 28 July 2005 (UTC)

NPOV on demographics

Since Andrew Bartlett has stuck a NPOV flag on demographics perhaps he should back up his claims about a housing shortage and source the evidence that overpopulation is an issue in Australia. Previously the section was simply factual. He seems to be inserting POV without sources.--nixie 23:16, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

I have removed the additions until they are sourced. I don't think the article presents for or against immigration, it just says there is immigration? Is that POV?--nixie 23:24, 27 July 2005 (UTC)
The current article is fine. You're exactly right - there is no place for biased editing here. Ambi 23:58, 27 July 2005 (UTC)
I agree. I've reverted similar edits twice now. Rather than following NPOV, this user is asserting POV. The NPOV tag should be accordingly removed. I do note, however, that there is a view that the continent, being as ancient and dry as it is, can only support around 40 million people. This could be discussed (if referenced to credible sources) in the Demographics of Australia article; such discussion is not necessary here. One would have to be careful though, given anti-immigration and radical ZPG groups will use any argument to support their beliefs. I very much doubt the thing about a housing shortage as well.--Cyberjunkie | Talk 04:13, 28 July 2005 (UTC)

I agree with nixie and Cyberjunkie. Tony 07:39, 28 July 2005 (UTC)

Opening sentence, again

Sorry, there's a problem:

'... comprising the entire continent of Australia and a number of islands, the largest of which is Tasmania. Australia has been inhabited for about 50,000 years ...'

Using the term 'Australia' to refer to the continent, as opposed to the country, raises the question of which meaning is intended at the start of the second sentence. I think the intended meaning was the country in the second sentence, but at the moment, it looks as though it excludes Tasmania with respect to habitation for about 50,000 years.

One way around this might be to avoid the other meaning of 'Australia':

'... comprising the world's smallest continent and a number of islands, the largest of which is Tasmania. Australia has been inhabited for about 50,000 years ...'

As nixie (I think it was) pointed out, if you can't find it on a map, there's something wrong. The location is quite clear from the world map that is supplied.

Is my suggested change OK?

Tony 08:04, 28 July 2005 (UTC)

Sounds much better to me JPD 14:49, 28 July 2005 (UTC)

Boigu Island, again

In my view, there are two problems in referring to Boigu Island at the top. The first is that it’s a tiny, unfamiliar dot of land that draws the reader away from forming an overall impression of Australia’s location and size. To refer to it right that the top of an article on Australia seems out of line with the (low) level of detail that is required here.

The second, more serious problem is that the existing text clearly implies that Boigu Island is the sole or main reason for ‘a complicated border arrangement allowing access …’. This is not the case; the indigenous peoples of New Guinea, the Torres Strait Islands, and the Australian continent have a long history of crossing this waterway, with or without the existence of Boigu Island; the numerous islands in the Torres Strait are the contributing factor, not just one island.

Here is the end of the existing second paragraph of the article:

‘The shortest border distance is between the mainlands of New Guinea and Australia, at about 150 kilometres; however, the northernmost inhabited island, Boigu Island, is only about five kilometres from Papua New Guinea. This has led to a complicated border arrangement allowing access for traditional uses of the waterway across the border by Papua New Guinean people and Torres Strait Islanders.’

I propose something simpler and shorter:

‘The shortest border distance is about 150 kilometres, across the Torres Strait between the mainlands of New Guinea and Australia. This waterway, with its numerous inhabited islands, has been and continues to be used as a traditional crossing by the indigenous peoples of the area.'

Boigu Island might be best referred to in one of the daughter articles.

May I make this change?

  • This sounds better to me. Slac speak up! 21:39, 28 July 2005 (UTC)

PS I'm not even sure that the second sentence ('This waterway ...') is too detailed a reference at the outset, although I've retained it in the proposed change because it appears proper to have an early reference to indigeous people.

Tony 08:49, 28 July 2005 (UTC)

I agree that there is something wrong with this paragraph. As I understand it, the point is to talk about neighbouring countries and borders. To my mind, the "shortest border distance" is an issue of political entities, not landmasses. The distance from Boigu Island to New Guinea should definitely be mentioned, even if Boigu isn't named. Is the "access for traditional uses" only about crossing, or is there more to it than that? It doesn't need to be referred to here, but does say soemthing about the nature of the border, so it is appropriate enough. What do you think of:
'The shortest distance from Australian mainland to a neighbouring country is about 150 kilometres across the Torres Strait to Papua New Guinea. However, Australian territory includes inhabited islands as far north as five kilometres from the New Guinea mainland, leading to a complicated border arrangement allowing access for traditional uses of the waterway across the border by Papua New Guinean people and Torres Strait Islanders.'
JPD 15:51, 28 July 2005 (UTC)
I would disagree - my view is that the "complicated border arrangements" are still too specific a thing to end the introductory paragraph on. Eg. the introduction of United States could easily mention the illegal Mexican border crossings and the problems associated with them, but that would detract from more central information, like the number & position of the states, the US' status as pre-eminent world power, etc. Very few Australians would actually be aware of these arrangements but they still would have a good knowledge of what Australia's borders are.
I support Tony's version, since it is proper to talk about indigenous use of the Torres Straight waterway without characterising it as some sort of administrative/customs headache. Slac speak up! 21:39, 28 July 2005 (UTC)
I've Been Bold and reformulated the introduction. I hope it's not too contentious. Slac speak up! 22:07, 28 July 2005 (UTC)
I thought it was useful in the old opening to describe that most of Torres Strait Islands are in Australia, so the Country of Australia extends almost to the island of New Guinea, and therefore I was OK with the idea that Boigu Island was mentioned by name. The current phrase "The shortest border distance is about 150 kilometres" is inaccurate, as the previous version said the shortest border distance is only 5 km. I think the "complicated border arrangements" belong somewhere else. There are traditional use border arrangements with Indonesia as well, so either both or neither should be in the top of this article (I'd lean towards neither). How about something like "The shortest distance between the mainlands of Australia and New Guinea is about 150 km. Most of the islands in the intervening Torres Strait are part of Australia, extending to Boigu Island being only 5 km from New Guinea."? I'd accept leaving out the part after the last comma if people think it's to fine-grained.
--ScottDavis 01:14, 29 July 2005 (UTC)

It's much better now, but the bit about border crossings, however interesting, doesn't belong at the opening. Indigenous people are already referred to at the top. Why not move that clause into 'Geography and climate' (or a daughter article, and tack the new sentence on population and coastal cities onto the end of the previous paragraph instead; it's big-picture stuff, and is therefore appropriate to the opening. Tony 02:46, 30 July 2005 (UTC)

I still don't like "mainland border distance". The mainland coastline doesn't define a border, it's as simple as that. ScottDavis' version is good, although it doesn't mention that NG is the closest "foreign mainland" to the Australian mainland. I don't think the border arrangement bit needs to be there, but it is quite a different thing to illegal crossings. JPD 15:21, 30 July 2005 (UTC)

What about removing the bit about 'convict transportation' at the top; it's a bolt out of the blue to refer to this unusual phenomenon without first introducing it. The issue belongs in 'History', where it should be covered in a little more detail.

Tony 02:51, 30 July 2005 (UTC)

This article is linked to in the lists of continents but it doesn't appear to be about the continent which anyway I always thought has a long name... does the continent article need fixing or this one? --BozMo|talk 21:07, 30 July 2005 (UTC)