Australia. In February, a special Constitutional Assembly proposed that Australia, which is part of the Commonwealth, should free itself from the United Kingdom and, in 2001, establish a republic with an elected president as head of state instead of Queen Elizabeth. At the end of 1999, residents are expected to vote on the changes.
The battle over Australia’s treatment of its aboriginal people, the Aborigines, continued. Mining companies and farmers welcomed a contentious parliamentary decision in July to limit aboriginal land rights in large parts of the country. Amnesty International branded the government’s refusal to compensate “the stolen generation”, the hundreds of thousands of Aboriginal children who were taken from their parents before 1970 and coerced into white families. In May, however, for the first time, National Excuse Day was celebrated, dedicated to the adopted children.
In the state of Queensland, the One Nation Party dissatisfaction party, led by Pauline Hanson and by many labeled as racist, took almost the fourth vote in the June 13 election. Its unexpected success also marked the fight for the federal re-election on October 3. It was a long time in voter support between Prime Minister John Howard’s conservative government coalition and the opposition with the Social Democrats (Australian Labor Party) under Kim Beazley, but when the votes were counted, the government could remain – albeit by a slight margin. One Nation was given only one mandate and party leader Hanson stepped out of parliament.
According to Countryaah, the capital of Australia is Canberra. A major conflict broke out in April between the Port Workers’ Union (MUA) and the stowage company Patrick Stevedores, which received government support. The company laid off its 1,400 unionized workers and deployed unorganized labor. MUA responded with a port block which crippled Australia’s exports. Only since the Supreme Court ordered the company to reinstate the dismissed did a negotiation solution reach in June.
A series of explosions and fires in the state of Victoria’s largest gas plant on September 27 took two lives and cost society and business billions in energy losses.
The postwar period
By the time the war ended, 30,000 Australian soldiers had been killed and, 65,000 wounded. Industrialization had taken another major step forward. Social legislation continued to be the goal of the welfare state. But the Labor Party government fell on its attempt to gain control over the private banks. That happened at the 1949 election. Before that, the government had isolated itself from the labor movement shortly before, by applying the exception laws and using soldiers and strikers during a two-month coal mine strike. The Cold War had made its entrance. The communists were accused of being behind the turmoil in the working life and undermining society. One year after a Conservative government came to power in 1949, it proposed banning the Communist Party, related organizations and their newspapers. The proposal was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and rejected by a referendum. The Labor Party leadership had fought against the proposal. But communist poison poisoned the atmosphere and led to a new split in the Labor Party, which did not regain government power until 1972. In 1955, a group erupted and formed an anti-communist labor party.
World War II had weakened ties between Britain and Australia. The war had shown that the old colonial power was no longer able to guarantee the security of the colonies to the Japanese advance. Instead, the United States established itself as the “guarantor” of security in the Pacific region. The Korean War of 1950-53 led to significant increases in the price of wool, thus benefiting Australia’s economy. At the same time, it prevented the disparity between urban and rural incomes from widening.
Foreign policy supported Australia to the United States and Western European powers. The British-French assault on Egypt in 1956 was accepted and Australian forces were sent to Korea, Malaya and Vietnam. At the same time, the country entered into military alliances with the United States and other anti-communist countries. Initially with the signing of the ANZUS Pact in 1951 between Australia, New Zealand and the United States. The pact was to guarantee military assistance between the three countries, to guarantee the North American interests in the region. At the same time, it was this alliance that dragged Australia into the wars of Korea and Vietnam in particular, which led to the country’s international image suffering a significant loss and to the development of an important peace movement.
The Labor Party is regaining government power
In 1972, a unified Labor Party regained power. The Vietnam criticism against the Conservative government contributed to the victory. Australia’s forces were withdrawn from Vietnam and diplomatic relations were established with the People’s Republic of China. The Labor Party government embarked on a comprehensive social program that entailed high spending. This program was launched at the same time as the countries of the world were hit by a new economic setback. Price increases, unemployment and counter-capitalism led the Labor Party to defeat in the 1975 elections. A conservative government took over, but unemployment continued to rise. A series of strikes were organized – partly on pay and working conditions, but also as a protest against the Conservatives’ decision to extract and export uranium.
Japan became the largest buyer of minerals from the Australian subsoil in the 1960’s, and in the same period financed the search for coal deposits. The extraction of Australia’s major deposits today supplies both the national industry and the huge Japanese industry. In 1983, with interest in the extraction of gold, uranium, bauxite, iron and diamonds, the groups launched a campaign to convince the people that the indigenous people’s territorial rights were compromising the country’s economy. As a result, the federal government forgot about its promise of a federal law to safeguard their rights. In most cases, as a result of the pressure from the groups, indigenous people were forced to sign agreements that were harmful to their sacred places, the environment and their traditional way of life.