Australia is a country located in Oceania; see map on Digopaul. The former state-owned, now privately owned
Australian Wheat Agency, AWB, paid bribes to the Saddam
Hussein regime in Iraq to secure wheat exports to the
country under the UN Oil for Food Program 1996-2003.
Evidence of this was presented by a commission appointed by
the government to investigate whether Australian companies
violated the law during their participation in the UN
program. The reason was that a UN report in 2005 identified
AWB as one of many international companies suspected of
bribing the previous Iraqi regime. AWB, which was the single
largest exporter of supplies to Iraq during this time, would
have paid just over $ 200 million in bribes to have
contracts worth $ 2.3 million. In addition to the directors
of the company, Prime Minister John Howard heard about the
deal, as did the Minister of Trade and Foreign Affairs. All
three denied that they had known or suspected that the
Australian company had paid bribes, despite the fact that
diplomats in telegrams had several times informed that there
were strong suspicions about it. The Commission exonerated
the government from all involvement in the scandal, but
considered that corruption charges should be brought against
eleven people in the former AWB leadership. By a swift
decision in Parliament in December, AWB removed its special
veto right for the country's wheat exports for six months.
The veto was temporarily transferred to the Minister of
Agriculture. This meant that AWB's competitors would have greater
opportunities than before to export their wheat. Later, the
US government decided to exclude the Australian wheat
company from all its contracts.
In February, the first sentence fell under the new
anti-terrorism laws introduced in 2005. A Melbourne court
sentenced an Australian man to five years in prison for
receiving money from the al-Qaeda terrorist group in
2002–03. However, the man was later released by a higher
court who considered the evidence unsustainable. An
Australian man of Pakistani origin was sentenced in August
to twenty years in prison for planning a terrorist attack
against the electrical system in the state of New South
Wales, which police averted in November 2005.
Due to internal resistance, in August the government
withdrew a criticized proposal for new tougher asylum laws.
The proposal meant that asylum seekers arriving by boat
would be taken to detention camps in another country, such
as those in Nauru in the Pacific to which Australia had
previously sent refugees. Those who were granted asylum
would then be placed in a third country. The bill came
shortly after Indonesia criticized Australia's decision to
grant 43 boat refugees from the Indonesian province of Irian
Jaya (Papua) temporary asylum. The refugees, many of whom
were said to belong to a separatist group, claimed to have
been imprisoned and tortured by the Indonesian authorities.
Indonesia called home its ambassador in protest and also
called on Australia's Foreign Minister not to acknowledge
the Papuan Liberation Movement. Opposition leader Kim
Beazley of the Labor Party felt that the government's bill
was just a way to appease Indonesia. In November, Australia
and Indonesia signed a new cooperation agreement on
migration and defense against terrorism.
Prime Minister Howard announced in July that he will
continue as leader of the Liberal Party and will run in the
2007 elections, which has not been obvious before. His main
opponent will be Labour's new party leader Kevin Rudd, who
was elected in December after his representative Beazley
himself called party leader election.
In September, a unique verdict from a federal court gave
Nyoongarabrigigines, as indigenous people, the right to a
land area. It is about 6,000 km2 in Perth, the
capital of the state of Western Australia, to which the
Aborigines were granted the right to own land before the
British colonizers arrived. Both the state and central
governments criticized the decision and were afraid that
similar land requirements would be imposed in other areas.
The severe drought continued in 2006 for the sixth
consecutive year. The drought, which according to
meteorologists was the worst in at least a century, lowered
agricultural production by 20% in 2006. A flood expert
warned that the most important rivers, Murray and Darling,
risked drying out in May 2007. The extreme weather led to a
political debate on climate change. Prime Minister Howard,
who was previously skeptical that greenhouse gases lead to
climate change and who refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol,
changed his mind. He took the initiative to reduce
greenhouse gases, but was still not prepared to enter into
the international agreement. The drought also exacerbated
the forest fires that are common in Australia during the
summers. At least one person and hundreds of thousands of
animals perished in the extensive fires in the southern
parts of the country.
Canberra, capital of Australia. The city is located in the Australian Capital
Territory in the Australian Alps between Sydney and Melbourne; 367,800 residents
(2012). At the formation of the nation in 1901, it was decided to build a
capital midway between Sydney and Melbourne, both of which were looking for
possible capitals. Melbourne served as a temporary capital, and by a compromise,
the new capital in 1908 was placed on the outskirts of the state of New South
Wales, and an international architectural competition for the city plan was
printed. The American architect Walter B. Griffin (1876-1937) won, and the name
Canberra was chosen after the native word for "meeting place".
The relocation of the state administration began in 1924; the greatest growth
occurred in 1958-76, when the sector was considerably expanded. By contrast, the
city is almost completely devoid of industry. In 1981, 60% of the employed were
employed by the state administration, which, along with the many national
research institutions, has attracted the country's well-educated elite.
Central Canberra is laid out with an axis from Mt. Ainslie across the
artificial lake of Lake Burley Griffin to Capital Hill, which houses the
impressive Parliament building. The city is also home to, among other things,
National Gallery, National Library, War Memorial, Australian Institute of Sport.