U.S. Department of State 
Background Notes: Australia, November 1997 

Released by the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.



Official Name:  Commonwealth of Australia

PROFILE

Geography

Area:  7.7 million sq. km. (3 million sq. mi.); about the size of the 48 
continental United States.

Cities:  Capital--Canberra (pop. 310,100).  Other cities--Sydney (3.7 
million), Melbourne (3.1 million), Brisbane (1.3 million), Perth (1.2 
million).

Terrain:  Varied, but generally low-lying.
Climate:  Relatively dry, ranging from temperate in the south to 
tropical in the north.

People


Nationality:  Noun and adjective--Australian(s).
Population  (1997):  18.3 million.

Annual growth rate: 1.3%.
Ethnic groups:  European 92%, Asian 7%, Aboriginal 1%.

Religions:  Anglican 26%, Roman Catholic 26%, other Christian 24%, non-
Christian 11%.

Languages:  English.

Education:  Years compulsory--to age 15 in all states except Tasmania, 
where it is 16.  Literacy--99%.

Health:  Infant mortality rate--6/1,000.  Life expectancy--males 75 yrs, 
females 81 yrs.

Work force 9.2 million:  Agriculture--5%.  Mining, manufacturing, and 
utilities--22%.  Services--69%.  Public administration and defense--4%.

Government

Type:  Democratic, federal-state system recognizing British monarch as 
sovereign.

Constitution:  July 9, 1900.

Independence (federation):  January 1, 1901.

Branches:  Executive--prime minister and cabinet responsible to 
Parliament.  Legislative--bicameral Parliament (76-member Senate, 148-
member House of Representatives).  Judicial--independent judiciary.

Administrative subdivisions:  Six states and two territories.

Political parties:  Liberal, National, Australian Labor, Australian 
Democrats.  Liberal and National parties form the governing coalition.

Suffrage:  Universal and compulsory over 18.

Central government budget (FY 1997-98):  $95 billion.

Defense (est.1997-98):  1.9% of GDP or 8.2% of government budget.

Flag:  On a blue field, U.K. Union Jack in the top left corner, a large 
white star directly beneath symbolizing federation, and five smaller 
white stars on the right half representing the Southern Cross 
constellation.

Economy

GDP  $343.5 billion.

Per capita income:  $20,000.

Inflation rate:  1.0% p.a.

Natural resources: Bauxite, coal, iron ore, copper, tin, silver, 
uranium, nickel, tungsten, mineral sands, lead, zinc, diamonds, natural 
gas, oil.

Agriculture (4% of GDP):  Products--livestock, wheat, wool, sugar.  
Arable land--9%.
Industry (31% of GDP):  Types--mining, manufacturing, transportation, 
and construction. 
Trade:  Exports--$61.7 billion (1997):  coal, gold, wool, meat, iron 
ore, wheat, alumina, aluminium, machinery and transport equipment.  
Major markets--Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, U.S. ($4.3 billion), 
Singapore, Taiwan.  Imports--$60.5 billion (1997): machinery and 
transport equipment, computers, crude oil and petroleum products, 
telecommunications equipment.  Major suppliers--U.S. ($13.7 billion), 
Japan, Germany, U.K., China, New Zealand, Taiwan, and Singapore.
PEOPLE
Australia's aboriginal inhabitants, a hunting-gathering people generally 
referred to as Australoids or Aborigines, arrived about 40,000 years 
ago.  Although their technical culture remained static--depending on 
wood, bone, and stone tools and weapons--their spiritual and social life 
was highly complex.  Most spoke several languages, and confederacies 
sometimes linked widely scattered tribal groups.  Aboriginal population 
density ranged from 1 person per square mile along the coasts to 1 
person per 35 square miles in the arid interior.  Food procurement was 
usually a matter for the nuclear family and was very demanding, since 
there was little large game and they had no agriculture.

Australia may have been sighted by Portuguese sailors in 1601, and Capt. 
James Cook claimed it for the United Kingdom in 1770.  At that time, the 
native population may have numbered 300,000 in as many as 500 tribes 
speaking many different languages.  The aboriginal population currently 
numbers more than 300,000, representing about 1.7% of the population. 
Since the end of World War II, efforts have been made both by the 
government and by the public to be more responsive to aboriginal rights 
and needs.

Today, tribal aborigines lead a settled traditional life in remote areas 
of northern, central, and western Australia.  In the south, where most 
aborigines are of mixed descent, movement to the cities is increasing.

Immigration has been essential to Australia's development since the 
beginning of European settlement in 1788.  For generations, most 
settlers came from the British Isles, and the people of Australia are 
still predominantly of British or Irish origin, with a culture and 
outlook similar to those of Americans.  However, since the end of World 
War II, the population has more than doubled; non-European immigration, 
mostly from the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America, has increased 
significantly since 1960 through an extensive, planned immigration 
program.  From 1945 through 1996, nearly 5.5 million immigrants settled 
in Australia, and about 80% have remained; nearly one of every four 
Australians is foreign-born.  Britain and Ireland have been the largest 
sources of post-war immigrants, followed by Italy, Greece, New Zealand, 
and the former Yugoslavia.

The 1970s saw progressive reductions in the size of the annual 
immigration program due to economic and employment conditions; in 1969-
70, 185,000 persons were permitted to settle, but by 1975-76 the number 
had dropped to 52,700.  Immigration has slowly risen since.  In 1995-96, 
Australia accepted more than 99,000 regular immigrants.  In addition, 
since 1990 about 7,500 New Zealanders have settled in Australia each 
year.

Australia's refugee admissions of about 12,000 per year are in addition 
to the normal immigration program.  In recent years, refugees from 
Indochina and the former Yugoslavia have comprised the largest single 
element in Australia's refugee program.

Although Australia has scarcely more than two persons per square 
kilometer, it is one of the world's most urbanized countries.  Less than 
15% of the population live in rural areas.

Cultural Achievements

Much of Australia's culture is derived from European roots, but 
distinctive Australian features have evolved from the environment, 
aboriginal culture, and the influence of Australia's neighbors.  The 
vigor and originality of the arts in Australia--films, opera, music, 
painting, theater, dance, and crafts--are achieving international 
recognition.

Australia has had a significant school of painting since the early days 
of European settlement, and Australians with international reputations 
include Sidney Nolan, Russell Drysdale, and Arthur Boyd.  Writers who 
have achieved world recognition include Thomas Keneally, Colleen 
McCullough, Nevil Shute, Morris West, Jill Ker Conway, and Nobel Prize 
winner Patrick White.  Australian movies have become well known in 
recent years as well.

HISTORY

Australia was uninhabited before stone-culture peoples arrived, perhaps 
by boat across the waters separating the island from the Indonesia 
archipelago about 40,000 years ago.  Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and 
English explorers observed the island before 1770, when Captain Cook 
explored the east coast and claimed it for Great Britain (three American 
colonists were crew members aboard Cook's ship, the Endeavor).

On January 26, 1788 (now celebrated as Australia Day), the First Fleet 
under Capt. Arthur Phillip landed at Sydney, and formal proclamation of 
the establishment of the Colony of New South Wales followed on February 
7.  Many but by no means all of the first settlers were convicts, 
condemned for offenses that today would often be thought trivial.  The 
mid-19th century saw the beginning of government policies to emancipate 
convicts and assist the immigration of free persons.  The discovery of 
gold in 1851 led to increased population, wealth, and trade.

The six colonies that now constitute the states of the Australian 
Commonwealth were established in the following order: New South Wales, 
1788; Tasmania, 1825;  Western Australia, 1830; South Australia, 1836; 
Victoria, 1851; and Queensland, 1859.

Settlement had preceded these dates in most cases.  Discussions between 
Australian and British representatives led to adoption by the British 
Government of an act to constitute the Commonwealth of Australia in 
1900.

The first federal Parliament was opened at Melbourne in May 1901 by the 
Duke of York (later King George V).  In May 1927, the seat of government 
was transferred to Canberra, a planned city designed by an American, 
Walter Burley Griffin. The first session of Parliament in that city was 
opened by another Duke of York (later King George VI).  Australia passed 
the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act on October 9, 1942, which 
officially established Australia's complete autonomy in both internal 
and external affairs.  Its passage formalized a situation that had 
existed for years.  The Australia Act (1986) eliminated the last 
vestiges of British legal authority.

GOVERNMENT

The Commonwealth government was created with a constitution patterned 
partly on the U.S. Constitution.  The powers of the Commonwealth are 
specifically defined in the constitution, and the residual powers remain 
with the states.

Australia is an independent nation within the Commonwealth.  Queen 
Elizabeth II is the sovereign and since 1973 has been officially styled 
"Queen of Australia."  The Queen is represented throughout Australia by 
a governor general and in each state by a governor.

The federal Parliament is bicameral, consisting of a 76-member Senate 
and a 148-member House of Representatives.  Twelve senators from each 
state and two from each territory are elected for 6-year terms, with 
half elected every 3 years.  The members of the House of Representatives 
are allocated among the states and territories roughly in proportion to 
population.  In ordinary legislation, the two chambers have coordinate 
powers, but all proposals for appropriating revenue or imposing taxes 
must be introduced in the House of Representatives.  Under the 
prevailing Westminster parliamentary system, the leader of the political 
party or coalition of parties that wins a majority of the seats in the 
House of Representatives is named prime minister.  The prime minister 
and the cabinet wield actual power and are responsible to the 
Parliament, of which they must be elected members.  General elections 
are held at least once every 3 years; the last general election was in 
March 1996.

Each state is headed by a premier, who is the leader of the party with a 
majority or a working minority in the lower house of the state 
legislature.  Australia also has two self-governing territories, the 
Australian Capital Territory (where Canberra is located) and the 
Northern Territory, with political systems similar to those of the 
states.

At the apex of the court system is the High Court of Australia.  It has 
general appellate jurisdiction over all other federal and state courts 
and possesses the power of constitutional review.

Principal Government Officials

Governor General--Sir William Deane
Prime Minister--John W. Howard
Foreign Minister--Alexander Downer
Ambassador to the United States--Andrew Peacock
Ambassador to the United Nations--Penelope Wensley

Australia maintains an embassy in the United States at 1601 
Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. 202-797-3000), and 
consulates general in New York (212-408-8400), San Francisco (415-362-
6160), Honolulu (808-524-5050), Los Angeles (310-229-4800) and Atlanta 
(404-880-1700).

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Three political parties dominate the center of the Australian political 
spectrum:  the Liberal Party (LP), nominally representing urban 
business-related groups; the National Party (NP), nominally representing 
rural interests; and the Australian Labor Party (ALP), nominally 
representing the trade unions and liberal groups.  Although embracing 
some leftists, the ALP traditionally has been moderately socialist in 
its policies and approaches to social issues.  All political groups are 
tied by tradition to turn-of-the-century domestic welfare policies, 
which have kept Australia in the forefront of societies offering 
extensive social welfare programs.  Australia's social welfare safety 
net has been reduced in recent years, however, in response to budgetary 
pressures and a changing political outlook.  There is strong bipartisan 
sentiment on many international issues, including Australia's commitment 
to its alliance with the United States.

The Liberal Party/National Party coalition came to power in the March 
1996 election, ending 13 years of ALP government and electing John 
Howard Prime Minister.  The coalition holds 94 seats (76 Liberal/18 
National) in the House of Representatives, against 49 for the ALP and 5 
for independents.  In the Senate, the Liberal/National coalition holds 
37 seats (31 Liberal/6 national), against 28 for the ALP, 7 for the 
Australian Democrats, 2 for the Greens, and 2 for independents.  Lacking 
a majority in the Senate, the Liberal/National coalition has relied on 
the smaller parties and independents to enact legislation.  Howard's 
conservative coalition has moved quickly to reduce Australia's 
government deficit and the influence of organized labor, placing more 
emphasis on workplace-based collective bargaining for wages.  The Howard 
government also has accelerated the pace of privatization, beginning 
with the government-owned telecommunications corporation.  The Howard 
government has continued the foreign policy of its predecessors, based 
on relations with four key countries:  the United States, Japan, China, 
and Indonesia.  The Howard government strongly supports U.S. engagement 
in the Asia-Pacific region.

ECONOMY

Historically, the Australian economy has consisted of export-oriented 
agricultural and mining sectors coupled with a diversified 
manufacturing-service sector dedicated to domestic requirements.  That 
pattern is changing slowly.  Australia's developed economy is dominated 
by its services sector (65% of GDP), but it is the agriculture and 
mining sectors (8% of GDP) that account for the bulk of goods and 
services exports (57% in 1997).  The Australian economy and balance of 
payments are strongly influenced by world prices for primary products.

Australia has immense mineral and energy resources.  It is the world's 
leading exporter of coal and one of the world's leading producers and 
exporters of aluminum, alumina, bauxite, cobalt, copper, industrial 
diamonds, gold, iron ore, lead, nickel, silver, and uranium.  In 
addition, abundant supplies of natural gas, liquid petroleum gas, and 
uranium make Australia a net exporter of energy products.

The manufacturing sector has been limited by Australia's small domestic 
market and labor force and relatively high labor costs fostered by 
strong unions.  A broad-based manufacturing sector was developed, 
nonetheless, partly due to an extensive range of tariffs and other 
protective measures.  The trade barriers that insulated domestic 
industry from foreign competition are, today, seen as having restrained 
the growth of industrial modernization and productivity.  Since 1984, 
successive Australian governments have reduced or eliminated tariffs and 
sectoral-assistance measures.  More recent macroeconomic reforms have 
boosted economic diversification, export orientation, and the 
manufacturing industries.  Exports of elaborately transformed products 
are growing, and manufactures' share of total exports has increased.  
However, the relative size of the manufacturing sector has declined for 
several decades and in 1997 accounted for just under 14% of GDP.

Since the Australian dollar was floated and allowed to fall dramatically 
from 1984 to 1987, successive Australian governments have begun to make 
the manufacturing sector more competitive with imports and more capable 
of exporting overseas.  Corporate taxes have been significantly reduced.  
Unions have agreed to gradual reductions in real wages.  The financial 
sector has been liberalized and exposed to international competition.  
The national air carrier, QANTAS, and the Commonwealth Bank have been 
fully privatized.  The national telecommunications carrier, Telstra, was 
one-third privatized in November 1997.  By 1996, a program begun in 1988 
had reduced most tariffs to 5%.

Foreign investment has been vital in the development of Australian 
ranching, transport, and manufacturing.  The Australian government 
welcomes foreign investment congenial to the Australian community, 
particularly if it is for export-oriented industries and creates 
employment opportunities.  Some restrictions on foreign ownership exist 
for the media, civil aviation, mining, and certain kinds of real estate.  
In 1996, cumulative U.S. investment in Australia--the single-most 
important source of direct foreign investment in that country--totaled 
more than $65 billion and accounted for 40% of total foreign investment.

Australia suffered a significant recession in 1990-91, followed by rapid 
growth in 1992-94.  Growth has slowed somewhat since, with the 
Australian economy experiencing a cyclical downturn during 1996-97.   
Real GDP growth is expected to reach 3.5% in 1997.  Inflation, which 
reached 5.1% during the recovery, has now fallen significantly; in 1997 
Australia recorded the first annual price deflation in 35 years.  
Unemployment continues to hover stubbornly above 8.5%, however, despite 
some job creation in the second half of 1997.  The Howard government 
inherited a substantial budget deficit in 1996, but has since embarked 
on an ambitious fiscal consolidation program, which relies primarily on 
cutting government spending.  The government announced an underlying 
budget deficit, which removes debt repayments and assets from the 
headline balance, of $2.9 billion for FY 1997-98, and a substantial 
headline budget surplus.  The government intends to balance the federal 
budget by the 1999-2000 fiscal year.  Australia's trade deficit fell 
during 1995 and 1996, but it has not been erased and is projected to 
exceed $1 billion in 1997.  Australia's net foreign debt has averaged 
30%-40% of GDP for several decades and totaled $150 billion (39.7% of 
GDP) at the end of 1996.  Australia's gross external public debt was $78 
billion at the end of 1996.  The public sector accounts for 40% of 
Australia's gross external debt; the remainder is the responsibility of 
the private sector.

Over the long term, Australia's economic prospects generally are bright.  
The successful conclusion of the GATT Uruguay Round of trade 
liberalization negotiations should boost overall economic activity, 
exports, and employment.  In addition, the integration of the Australian 
economy into the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific region and increasing 
emphasis on using the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum to 
advance regional economic liberalization should boost future growth.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Australia has been active in international affairs since World War II.  
Its first major independent foreign policy action was to conclude an 
agreement in 1944 with New Zealand dealing with the security, welfare, 
and advancement of the people of the independent territories of the 
Pacific (the ANZAC pact).  After the war, Australia played a role in the 
Far Eastern Commission in Japan and supported Indonesian independence 
during that country's revolt against the Dutch (1945-49).  Australia was 
one of the founders of both the United Nations and the South Pacific 
Commission (1947), and in 1950, it proposed the Colombo Plan to assist 
developing countries in Asia.  In addition to contributing to UN forces 
in Korea (it was the first country to announce it would do so after the 
United States), Australia sent troops to assist in putting down the 
communist revolt in Malaya in 1948-60 and later to combat the 
Indonesian-supported invasion of Sarawak in 1963-65.  Australia  also 
sent troops to assist South Vietnamese and U.S. forces in Vietnam and 
joined coalition forces in the Persian Gulf conflict in 1991.  Australia 
has been active in the Australia-New Zealand-U.K. agreement and the 
Five-Power Defense Arrangement--successive arrangements with Britain and 
New Zealand to ensure the security of Singapore and Malaysia.

One of the drafters of the UN Charter, Australia has given firm support 
to the United Nations and its specialized agencies.  It was a member of 
the Security Council in 1986-87, a member of the Economic and Social 
Council for 1986-89, and a member of the UN Human Rights Commission for 
1994-96.  Australia takes a prominent part in many other UN activities, 
including peacekeeping, disarmament negotiations, and narcotics control.  
Australia also is active in meetings of the Commonwealth Regional Heads 
of Government and the South Pacific Forum, and has been a leader in the 
Cairns Group (countries pressing for agricultural trade reform in the 
Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 
negotiations) and in the APEC forum.

Australia has devoted particular attention to relations between 
developed and developing nations, with emphasis on the countries of the 
Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)--Indonesia, Singapore, 
Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Brunei--and the island states 
of the South Pacific.  Australia is an active participant in the ASEAN 
Regional Forum (ARF), which promotes regional cooperation on security 
issues.  Australia has a large bilateral aid program (about $1.3 billion 
for 1997-98, mostly in the form of grants) under which some 60 countries 
receive assistance.  Papua New Guinea (PNG), a former Australian trust 
territory, is the largest recipient of Australian assistance.  In 1997, 
Australia contributed to the IMF program for Thailand, and assisted 
Indonesia and PNG with regional environmental crises.

ANZUS AND DEFENSE

The Australia, New Zealand, United States (ANZUS) security treaty was 
concluded at San Francisco on September 1, 1951, and entered into force 
on April 29, 1952.  The treaty bound the signatories to recognize that 
an armed attack in the Pacific area on any of them would endanger the 
peace and safety of the others.  It committed them to consult in the 
event of a threat and, in the event of attack, to meet the common danger 
in accordance with their respective constitutional processes.  The three 
nations also pledged to maintain and develop individual and collective 
capabilities to resist attack.

In 1985, the nature of the ANZUS alliance changed after the Government 
of New Zealand refused access to its ports by nuclear-weapons-capable 
and nuclear-powered ships of the U.S. Navy.  The United States suspended 
defense obligations to New Zealand, and annual bilateral meetings 
between the U.S. Secretary of State and the Australian Foreign Minister 
replaced annual meetings of the ANZUS Council of Foreign Ministers.  The 
first bilateral meeting was held in Canberra in 1985.  At the second, in 
San Francisco in 1986, the United States and Australia announced that 
the United States was suspending its treaty security obligations to New 
Zealand pending the restoration of port access.  Subsequent bilateral 
Australia-U.S. Ministerial (AUSMIN) meetings have alternated between 
Australia and the United States.  The 11th AUSMIN meeting took place in 
Washington in October 1997.

The U.S.-Australia alliance under the ANZUS treaty remains in full 
force.  Defense ministers of one or both nations often have joined the 
annual ministerial meetings, which are supplemented by consultations 
between the U.S. Commander in Chief Pacific and the Australian Chief of 
Defense Force.  There also are regular civilian and military 
consultations between the two governments at lower levels.

Unlike NATO, ANZUS has no integrated defense structure or dedicated 
forces.  However, in fulfillment of ANZUS obligations, Australia and the 
United States conduct a variety of joint activities.  These include 
military exercises ranging from naval and landing exercises at the task-
group level to battalion-level special forces training, assigning 
officers to each other's armed services, and standardizing, where 
possible, equipment and operational doctrine.  The two countries also 
operate several joint defense facilities in Australia.

The Australian Defense Force numbers about 57,000 personnel on active 
duty, but projected cuts will reduce that force to 50,000 by 2000.  
Personnel strength is currently 25,600 in the Army, 14,000 in the Navy, 
and 16,700 in the Air Force.  The Royal Australian Navy's front-line 
fleet currently comprises 3 guided-missile destroyers, 6 guided-missile 
frigates (including the first of the new Australian-built ANZAC class), 
1 destroyer escort and 4 submarines -- 3 of the older Oberon-class and 1 
of the new, indigenous Collins class.  Up to 6 Collins-class vessels are 
to be built.  The F/A-18 fighter, built in Australia under license from 
the U.S. manufacturer, is the principal combat aircraft of the Royal 
Australian Air Force, backed by U.S.-built F-111 strike aircraft.

U.S.-AUSTRALIAN RELATIONS

The World War II experience, similarities in culture and historical 
background, and shared democratic values have made U.S. relations with 
Australia exceptionally strong and close.  Ties linking the two nations 
cover the entire spectrum of international relations--from commercial, 
cultural, and environmental contacts to political and defense 
cooperation.  Two-way trade totaled more than $18 billion in 1996.  That 
same year, over 200,000 Americans visited Australia and nearly 53,000 
resided there.

Traditional friendship is reinforced by the wide range of common 
interests and similar views on most major international questions.  For 
example, both countries sent military forces to the Persian Gulf in 
support of UN Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq's occupation 
of Kuwait; both attach high priority to controlling and eventually 
eliminating chemical weapons, other weapons of mass destruction, and 
anti-personnel landmines; and both work closely on global environmental 
issues such as slowing climate change and preserving coral reefs.  The 
Australian Government and opposition share the view that Australia's 
security depends on firm ties with the United States, and the ANZUS 
treaty enjoys broad bipartisan support.  Recent Presidential visits to 
Australia (in 1991 and 1996) and Australian Prime Ministerial visits to 
the United States (in 1995 and 1997) have underscored the strength and 
closeness of the alliance.

Trade issues sometimes generate bilateral friction.  In recent years, 
especially because of Australia's large trade deficit with the U.S., 
Australians have protested what they consider U.S. protectionist 
barriers against their exports of wool, meat, dairy products, lead, 
zinc, uranium, and fast ferries.  Australia also opposes as 
"extraterritorial" U.S. sanctions legislation against Cuba, Iran, and 
Libya.  Australia remains concerned that U.S. agricultural subsidies--
although targeted against European subsidies--may undercut Australian 
markets for grain and dairy products in the Asia-Pacific region.  For 
its part, the U.S. has concerns about Australian barriers to imports of 
cooked chicken, fresh salmon, and some fruits; subsidized Australian 
exports of leather for automobile upholstery; changes in Australian law 
governing intellectual property protection; and Australian Government 
procurement practices.  Both countries share a commitment to 
liberalizing global trade, however.  They  work together very closely in 
the World Trade Organization (WTO), and both are active members of the 
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

A number of U.S. institutions conduct scientific activities in Australia 
because of its geographical position, large land mass, advanced 
technology, and, above all, the ready cooperation of its government and 
scientists.  Under an agreement concluded in 1968 and since renewed, the 
U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) maintains in 
Australia its largest and most important program outside the United 
States, including a number of tracking facilities vital to the U.S. 
space program.  Indicative of the broad-ranging U.S.-Australian 
cooperation on other global issues, a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty 
(MLAT) was concluded in 1997, enhancing already close bilateral 
cooperation on legal and counternarcotics issues.

Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador--Genta Hawkins Holmes
Deputy Chief of Mission--W. Mark Bellamy
Economic Counselor--Curtis Stewart
Political Counselor--George White, acting
Administrative Counselor--Marshall F. Atkins
Public Affairs Officer--Sheila W. Austrian
Defense and Air Attache and Representative of the Commander in Chief 
Pacific--Col. Charles Scaperotto, USAF
Agricultural Counselor--James A. Truran
Senior Commercial Officer--Barry Friedman (resident in Sydney)

The US Embassy in Australia is located at Moonah Place, Yarralumla, 
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2600 (tel. 6-270-5000; fax6-270-
5970).  Consulates General are in Sydney (tel. 2-9373-9200; fax 2-9373-
9107), Melbourne (tel. 3-9526-5900; fax 3-9510-4646), and Perth (tel. 9-
231-9400; fax. 9-231-9444).

For information on foreign economic trends, commercial development, 
production, trade regulations, and tariff rates, contact the 
International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 
Washington, DC 20230.  This information also is available from any 
Commerce Department district office.

TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides
Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel
Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends
that Americans avoid travel to a certain country. Consular
Information Sheets exist for all countries and
include information on immigration practices, currency regulations,
health conditions, areas of instability, crime and security, political
disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in the country.
Public Announcements are issued as a means to
disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats and other
relatively short-term conditions overseas which pose significant
risks to the security of American travelers. Free copies of this
information are available by calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs
at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-on-demand system: 202-647-3000.
Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets also are available
on the Consular Affairs Internet home page: http://travel.state.gov
and the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB).
To access CABB, dial the modem number: (301-946-4400 (it will
accommodate up to 33,600 bps), set terminal communications program
to N-8-1 (no parity, 8 bits, 1 stop bit); and terminal emulation
to VT100. The login is travel and the
password is info (Note: Lower case is required).
The CABB also carries international security information from
the Overseas Security Advisory Council and Department's Bureau
of Diplomatic Security. Consular Affairs Trips for Travelers publication
series, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning
a safe trip abroad, can be purchased from the Superintendent of
Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh,
PA 15250-7954; telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250. 

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling
abroad may be obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services
at (202) 647-5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays,
call 202-647-4000. 

Passport Services information can be obtained
by calling the 24-hour, 7-day a week automated system ($.35 per
minute) or live operators 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday
($1.05 per minute). The number is 1-900-225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778).
Major credit card users (for a flat rate of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-
8668
(TDD: 1-888-498-3648) 

Travelers can check the latest health information with
the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta,
Georgia. A hotline at (404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health
advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and
advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries.
A booklet entitled Health Information for International Travel
(HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S.
Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency
and customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest
to travelers also may be obtained before your departure
from a country's embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this
country, see "Principal Government Officials" listing
in this publication). 

U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling
in dangerous areas are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy
upon arrival in a country (see "Principal U.S. Embassy
Officials" listing in this publication). This may help family
members contact you in case of an emergency. 

Further Electronic Information: 

Department of State Foreign Affairs Network.
Available on the Internet, DOSFAN provides timely, global access
to official U.S. foreign policy information. Updated daily, DOSFAN
includes Background Notes; Dispatch, the official
magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press briefings; Country
Commercial Guides; directories of key officers of foreign
service posts; etc. DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at 
http://www.state.gov.

U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published
on a semi-annual basis by the U.S. Department of State, USFAC
archives information on the Department of State Foreign Affairs
Network, and includes an array of official foreign policy information
from 1990 to the present. Contact the Superintendent of Documents,
U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh,
PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or fax (202) 512-2250.

National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by
the U.S. Department of Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of
trade-related information. It is available on the Internet (www.stat-
usa.gov)
and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-1986 for more
information.

[end of document]


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