Background Notes: Australia, October 1998
Released by the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
U.S. Department of State

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: (1998) Capital--Canberra (pop. 310,100).  Other cities--
Sydney (4.0 million), Melbourne (3.5 million), Brisbane (1.5 
million), Perth (1.3 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  (1998):  18.7 million.
Annual growth rate: 1.3%.
Ethnic groups:  European 92%, Asian 7%, Aboriginal 1%.
Religions:  Anglican 22%, Roman Catholic 27%, other Christian 
22%, other non-Christian 3%, No religion 17%.
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:  Head of State is the Governor General, who is 
appointed by the Queen of Australia (the British Monarch). 
Legislative--bicameral Parliament (76-member Senate, 148-member 
House of Representatives).  The House of Representatives selects 
as head of government the Prime Minister, who then appoints his 
cabinet.  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 1998-99): U.S. $85 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: (1998)  $350.0 billion.
Per capita income:  $20,000.
Inflation rate:  0% p.a.
Natural resources: Bauxite, coal, iron ore, copper, tin, silver, 
uranium, nickel, tungsten, mineral sands, lead, zinc, diamonds, 
natural gas, oil.
Agriculture (3% of GDP):  Products--livestock, wheat, wool, 
sugar.  Arable land--9%.
Industry (31% of GDP):  Types--mining, manufacturing, 
transportation, and construction. 
Trade:  Exports--$56 billion (1997):  coal, gold, wool, meat, 
iron ore, wheat, alumina, aluminum, machinery and transport 
equipment.  Major markets--Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, U.S. 
($5.5 billion), Singapore, Taiwan.  Imports--$59 billion (1998): 
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 are also well known.

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 October 1998.

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 domestic welfare policies, mostly enacted in the 
1980's, 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.  Re-elected in October 1998, 
the coalition now holds 80 seats (64 Liberal/16 National) in the 
House of Representatives, against 68 for the ALP and 1 
independent.  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.  The new Senators take their seats on July 1, 1999.  
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

The ongoing region-wide Asian financial crisis, which began in 
1997,
has created uncertainty and instability in Australia's 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 1998 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 1998, 
cumulative U.S. investment in Australia--the single-most 
important source of direct foreign investment in that country--
totaled more than $72 billion and accounted for 24% 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 2.8% in 
1998.  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 8.0%, 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 surplus, which removes debt repayments and 
assets from the headline balance, of $1.6 billion for FY 1998-99, 
and a substantial headline budget surplus. Australia's trade 
deficit fell during 1995 and 1996, but is projected to reach $3 
billion in 1998.  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 1997.  Australia's external public debt was 
$38 billion at the end of 1997.  The public sector accounts for 
26% 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 12th 
AUSMIN meeting took place in Sydney in July 1998.

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 56,600 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, 
14,300 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--2 of the older Oberon-class and 2 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 1997.  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-Stephen Engelken
Administrative Counselor-Jo Ellen Powell
Public Affairs Officer-Don Q. Washington
Defense and Air Attache and Representative of the Chairman, Joint 
Chiefs of Staff and the Commander in Chief Pacific--Col. Charles 
Scaperotto, USAF
Agricultural Counselor--James A. Truran
Senior Commercial Officer--Barry Friedman (resident in Sydney)

The U.S. Embassy in Australia is located at Moonah Place, 
Yarralumla, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2600 (tel. 
(02) 6-270-5000; fax 6-270-5970).  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 an 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.

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