Talk:Australia/Archive 1

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Misc

((diff) Australia/Geography 12:58 am [deleting US-centricism] . . . . . Simon J Kissane

"US-centricism"? You are deleting information that may be useful to a lot of readers of this article. Why? If you don't like making comparisons to the US, add a comparison to another country. But why delete?

That's an absurd idea - which other country do you intend to use? We would have to include comparisons for almost every country in the world. I completely support SJK on this one.

(Thanks to whoever wrote the above reply while I was writing this.) Well, why not then add a comparison to every country in the world? There are only around 189 of them. That should clog up the article with a few pages of comparisons. We can't compare to everyone, so to be fair compare to none. The CIA world factbook can do that because the primary intended market for their product is Americans; Wikipedia aims to be more global than that.

Besides, the only readers that sort of information is likely to be useful to is Americans. While the comparison in this particular article isn't that bad, comparing it to the size of the U.S., other CIA world factbook entries compare states to the size of Connecticut or Delaware; frankly I wouldn't have the slightest clue how big those U.S. states are, and most of the people in the world wouldn't either. -- SJK]


Why is there so much history on this page? Why don't we just put in an ultra-brief summary and a link to history of Australia, like what is done on United States? -- Tim

The WikiProject Countries will eventually also changeover the Australia article - you can do it if you want to, or wait. Jeronimo

I made this change to the template, but much of the removed text is not present in the currenty history article - I'll paste it here:

Australia has been populated for over 40,000 years. Its earliest human inhabitants, the Australian Aborigines, the indigenous people of Australia crossed the Torres Strait from the lands that currently make up Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. At that time the Torres and Bass Straits were land bridges.

The first European to sight Australia was probably a Portuguese, Manuel Godhino de Eredia, in 1601. It may also have been sighted by a Spaniard, Luis Vaez de Torres, around 1605-6. Australia was later visited by the Dutch (based in Java, who named it New Holland, and Abel Tasman landed on the island of Tasmania in 1642. In 1688 the Englishman William Dampier landed at King Sound on the northwest coast.

In 1770 Captain James Cook discovered the northern two-thirds of the east coast. He named it New South Wales (the reasons for this particular name are unknown) and claimed it for Great Britain. In his report he recommended Botany Bay as an ideal site for a future colony. Cook's report was ignored at first, but in the 1780's the interest of the British government increased. The most important factor was Britain's need to provide strategic raw materials to its naval and commercial fleet and to relieve its overcrowded prisons. Several violent incidents at overcrowded prisons convinced the British government of the need to separate unruly elements from the rest of the prison populace. The loss of the North American territories during the War of Independence deprived Britain of a source of hemp (canvas & rope). A decision was made to found an apiary at Botany Bay.

As a result, Captain Arthur Phillip, commanding eleven ships full of convicts, left Britain for Australia on May 13, 1787. He successfully landed a full fleet at Botany Bay on January 18, 1788. However, they left the bay eight days later because of its openness, short supply of fresh water and poor soil, and settled instead at Port Jackson, a few kilometres north. The ships landed 1,373 people, including 732 convicts, and the settlement became Sydney Town (later Sydney). The early years of the colony were somewhat disastrous; Phillip ordered the crops to be planted in March (failing to factor in the reversal of seasons) and they promptly withered during the winter, leading to a number of famines.

In 1803, another prison colony was established in Van Diemen's Land, later renamed Tasmania to remove the convict connotation. Other colonies were not established to take convicts (although some did), and eventually support for shipping convicts from England declined, and Australia ceased to take them.

Australia became a commonwealth of the British Empire in 1901. She was able to take advantage of her natural resources to rapidly develop her agricultural and manufacturing industries and to make a major contribution to the British effort in World Wars I and II. Australia's war dead are remembered on ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day.

Original policies of Australia were designed to encourage the British nature of the country, and policies such as the White Australia policy were set up to specifically exclude those not from Britain from coming into the country. This policy was eventually undone after World War II when mass immigration was encouraged, and racist views began to decline.

A referendum to change Australia's nation status, from a commonwealth headed by the British monarch to an independent republic, was defeated in 1999. Some people attribute this partly to the terms of the referendum, suggesting that it created the perception that the change would have granted parliament a 'blank cheque' to change the constitution without any further public consultation (or some similar undesirable side-effect), and partly to many Australians' sentimental fondness for Britain, the Queen and/or the Commonwealth. It is speculated that the referendum may have failed because Republicans do not agree on what system could or should replace the monarchy, and the electorate merely rejected the particular model proposed for sound reasons rather than from any mistaken perceptions; however many other factors may well have played a part, and this begs the question of whether some such workable system can be designed and implemented. As well as all this, most referenda in Australia to change the Constitution have failed, so it could also be argued that this was just another example of Australians rejecting change with the argument of 'if it's not broken, don't fix it'. Australia remains a member of The Commonwealth, an organisation containing Britain and most of its former colonies, but this increasingly irrelevant organisation is mainly concerned with promoting human rights, democracy, and open government in some of its less developed members rather than discussing shared economic interests as existed in the past.

When the constitution for the Commonwealth of Australia was being negotiated between the colonies, Melbourne and Sydney each demanded that they become the capital. As a compromise, it was agreed that the capital would initially be Melbourne, until a new capital city could be built. This new capital city would be located in territory taken from New South Wales, and be 200 statute miles or more from Sydney. The present site was chosen and named Canberra in 1906; the federal government moved there from Melbourne in the 1920s, Parliament making the shift in 1927. Canberra's name comes from the Aboriginal word Kamberra, meaning 'meeting place'


I took out the links to two patriotic songs that had been on this page for three months, because I had never heard of them. I used the history to find out who put them on there in the first place - it was an anonymous iPrimus user. The author of the songs is a marketing executive from SA with the email address peterbarnes@iprimus.com.au. Hmmmm... A classic example of the need for weeding. -- Tim

The present para on famous Australians sticks out like dogs unmentionables. There is nothing actually wrong with it, but I think it needs to (a) expanded, and (b) moved to a subsiduary page. I moved it to here for now. Perhaps someone who is good at this stuff could add it to the List of famous Australians and make an article out of it. (Not me. I have trouble remembering which one is Kylie and which one is Rolf.)

Also, in a minute or two, I'll try addressing something that bugs me a little: the way that the links to the really interesting info on Australia (which in my entirely biased view is the flora and flora) are relegated to a couple of minor dot points. This may or may not be something that meets with general approval: I'll just do it and promise not to throw my toys out of the pram if someone reverses it. Tannin 04:55 Dec 21, 2002 (UTC)

Looking much better with the public holidays split off. Well done, Tim. Tannin 06:50 Jan 9, 2003 (UTC)


Who wrote this dribble about 53,000 years and ancestors of the current Australian Aborigines? As far as I know the first inhabiants came over one hundred thousand years ago, a second wave came around thirty plus thousand years ago displacing the first. And todays Australian Aborigines are decendant from these people - who I imagine are the same ancestors of the various Papuan peoples.

Can an anthropologist please review update the article? ... Daeron

Time you updated your sources, then, Daeron. This is the common & accepted view - 53,000 years, but with a very wide margin for error. Most authorities that I have consulted put it at between 60,000 and 45,000. Actual human remains (as opposed to indirect evidence of human presence) are sadly lacking in the archeological record. The 100,000 year figure, if my memory is to be trusted, comes from one single site in the far north for which the dating is not generally accepted. (Further, more conclusive, evidence may yet turn up of very ancient human presence in Australia, of course.) DNA and linguistic studies indicate that there has been little mixing between Australians and the people to the immediate north, so if Australians and New Guineans do indeed share a common ancestory (as seems reasonable on first sight), it is not a recent one. Tannin 06:30 Feb 11, 2003 (UTC)

There seems to be some confusion in one person's mind ( Daeron) regarding whether Australia is a republic or a monarchy, hence his constant doctoring of the Australia page to call it a republic. (He seems to be the only one on the planet with such confusion).

No, and you are refusing to accept both the dictionary and common definitions of "republic" and "Commonwealth".

So a little lesson in political science:

  • A state with a monarch is a monarchy; either absolute or constitutional.
What does that have to do with the definition of a Republic or a Commonwealth?
  • A state with a president is normally a republic - though there have been exceptions (eg, Ireland from 1937 to 1949 had a president but only began calling itself a republic in 1949).
Dictatorships also normally have a self-declared "president" - but you mis-use the English & Australian languages by trying to re-define Republic.

I can only suppose that his confusion is due to mis-understanding the word 'Commonwealth'. In the seventeeth century the word was applied to the English Republic that existed under Cromwell. That was the one and only occasion that it was taken to imply that. It has regularly been used in other contexts since then, but never interpreted to automatically mean republic. It doesn't, as any political scientist, historian or lawyer can confirm.

No, as you live in Ireland perhaps you use a different language? But the Australian dictionaries all define:
-commonwealth
n. republic;
federation of self-governing states;
official designation of Australia.
Now I know that members of the Republican movement have to pretend Australia isn't a republic, but it is.
republic
n. state in which supremacy of people or their representives
is formally acknowledged.

Finally, I was highly amused to be accused to pushing an agenda in calling the Commonwealth of Australia a constitutional monarchy. The last time I wrote about Australia in the page on the Republic Advisory Committee (which incidentially was concerned with creating a republic, ie, there was not one!!!) I was accused to being a republican. Now apparently I am a monarchist. Actually I'm neither. I'm a historian and political scientist who followed the debate on whether or not Australia should become a republic. It decided in that instance not to, a fact the Rip Van Winkle who keeps vandalising the page here seems not to have noticed. JTD 06:42 Feb 11, 2003 (UTC)