The first people to live in Australia were called Aborigines. They migrated there about 40,000 years ago. The continent remained relatively unknown by outsiders until the 17th century. The first Europeans to settle were British convicts in 1788. They arrived at Botany Bay in southeastern Australia. Australia grew as a group of British colonies during the 19th century, and in 1901 the colonies federated to form a unified independent nation.

National Government

The federal parliament consists of a bicameral legislature. The House of Representatives has 146members elected for three years by a popular vote. The Senate has 76 members also elected by popular vote, but for a six year term. One half of the Senate is elected every three years. Voting is compulsory at 18. Supreme federal judicial power is vested in the High Court of Australia in the federal courts, and in the state courts invested by Parliament with federal jurisdiction. The High Court consists of seven justices, appointed by the Governor-General in Council. Each of the state has its own judicial system.

The Constitution
This document was drawn up in constitutional conventions in the 1890s and ratified at referenda in all six colonies. It reserves for the Federal Government the power over defense, foreign affairs, trade and commerce, taxation, customs and excise duties, pensions, immigration and postal services. Other powers are left with the States, but federal law prevails if there is a conflict over concurrent powers. The Federal Government also has the power to ensure observance at the state level of Australia\'s international treaty obligations.

Australia\'s currency is called the decimal with the dollar as the basic unit. (100 cents equals $1). These notes come in denominations of $100, $50, $20, $10, and $5. The coins come in 5c, 10c, 20c and $1, and $2 denominations.


The principal elements of the main federal taxes of Australia are namely income tax, capital gains tax, and fringe benefits tax.

Income Tax
Tax payable = (assessable income - allowable deductions) x applicable tax rate
Payable by = person who derives income
Trigger = derivation of income/incurrence of a loss or outgoing
Income = common law income + statutory income
Deductions = losses or outgoings incurred in predicting assessable income or incurred in carrying on a business for that purpose + outgoings specifically made deductible

Capital gains Tax
Tax payable = (disposal proceeds - cost base x applicable tax rate
Payable by = person disposing of asset
Trigger = disposal of an asset where the asset was acquired after 19 September (1985).
Disposal proceeds = consideration received in respect of the disposal of the asset
Cost base = consideration paid for the asset, incidental costs of acquiring/disposing of the asset, certain non-capital costs, certain costs incurred in enhancing the value of the asset and costs incurred in establishing, preserving or defending the taxpayer\'s title to the asset

Fringe Benefits Tax
Tax payable = taxable value of fringe benefit x applicable tax rate
Payable by = employers
Trigger = benefit provided to an employee by an employer in respect of the employment of the employment

Taxable value = value of the benefit calculated according to specific rules - any contribution made by the employee - any amount that would otherwise have been deductible to the employee under the income tax provisions if the amount had actually been incurred by the employee

State and Territorial Government

Australia is divided into six states - New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania - and two territories: the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.
The states and territories each have a capital city, flag, and even their own flora and fauna emblems. Australia is also responsible for administering seven external territories: Norfolk Island, Cocos (Keeling) Island, Christmas Island, Ashmore and Cartier Islands Territory, the Territory of Heard Island, Coral Sea Islands Territory, the sub Antarctic McDonald Islands and the Australian Antarctic Territory. State governments are modeled on the British Westminster system. Each state has a premier who is the leader of the political party on power. All states have an executive council consisting of the governor, state premier, and selected ministers. State parliaments deal with domestic affairs such as education, transport, law enforcement, health services and agriculture as well as sharing mutual responsibilities with the federal parliament. The powers and responsibilities of local governments vary from state to state, however they encompass community