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. According to CountryAAH, major public holidays in Australia include Independence Day (January 26) and New Year (January 1).
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.