Politics in Australia
Politics in Australia is a term used to describe domestic, or internal, Australian politics. The term Australian politics is used to cover both the international affairs of Australia and the domestic political affairs. We refer to the domestic political affairs as Politics in Australia. We refer to the international political affairs as Politics of Australia.
The two have several interlocking issues and numerous connections. The focus here is on introduction to politics and, as such, the focus will be on the domestic politics and we will refer to that as Politics of Australia.
Australian domestic politics has for decades been dominated by what is effectively a two party system. Government is formed either by the Australian Labor Party (ALP)
or the Liberal Party of Australia (Libs).
The Liberal Party has often been in coalition with a group focused on rural areas or "old money". That party was originally called the Country Party of Australia but it has used several names including the National Party.
There are few real difference between the parties and both favor a capitalist system with limited government involvement while maintaining government ownership and government marketing boards in areas of particular interest. The ALP is slightly more progressive (left wing) and is closely aligned with the trade unions. The Libs are more conservative and closely aligned with business. However, the distinctions between the two parties are far from clear. For example, leaders of the the Libs have supported republicanism and massive increases in social welfare. Leaders of the ALP have privatized industries and floated the exchange rate. While voting against their own party in Parliament is very rare, the elected members (as the Government of Opposition of the day) often ignore their own Party platforms in terms of policy. Both of the major parties have factions (formally in the ALP and less so in the Libs).
Elected officials in the two parties tend to conform strongly to established career paths. For those in the ALP, life is most likely to start as a Ministerial adviser, Party organizer or Union organizer - and Law or Industrial Relations would be the common qualifications. For those in the Libs, a start in small business (especially their parents') would not be uncommon - with qualifications in Law or Commerce. In both cases, involvement in the "young" part of their Party and some role within the Party structure are very common.
For those who seek to influence from the Public Service, the entry points are far more diverse. There seems to be little in common about those who reach the upper echelons - other than an ability to feed positive information upwards! The situation in relation to the media component is even more contentious.
The introduction here is intended to provide some assistance in providing a start point for the career development set out in
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