The Australian Social and Political Framework
Australia has a bicameral parliamentary government, influenced by the modern British and American governments. It has been in existence since 1901, and it’s the sixth oldest uninterrupted democracy. It features an upper house in the form of a Senate and a lower house called the House of Representatives. The leader of the Australian government is the Australian Prime Minister.
There are two major political parties in place. The Liberal-National Coalition leans somewhat centre-right and is composed of the Liberal Party, who has a primarily urban voting body, and the National Party, whose voters come from primarily rural areas. Meanwhile, the Labour Party adopts a centre-left position. Other notable smaller parties include the Australian Greens and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.
Famous Australian People
9. Malcolm Turnbull - The Career Politician
Star sign: Scorpio
Born in Sydney on October 24, 1954, the 29th Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, is a career politician. He’s been a Member of Parliament, Chair of the Australian Republican Movement, and has been the leader of the Liberal Party twice.
Turnbull’s government was associated with a strong focus on the economy, the 2017 same-sex marriage plebiscite, and a reduction of climate change energy targets due to high prices. He’s one of the richest Australian politicians ever, with a combined net worth (along with his wife Lucy Turnbull) of around $AUD180-million.
8. John Howard - The Marathon Minister
Star sign: Leo
In the list of Australian Prime Ministers, John Howard standards as the second-longest-serving Prime Minister of Australia, having spent 1996 to 2007 in office. But he wasn’t always a politician. Born in Sydney on July 26, 1939, he started off as a lawyer but had dipped his toes in political leanings very early on, having been federal president of the NSW Young Liberals.
He first ran for Parliament in 1968, though his campaign was unsuccessful. He was finally elected in 1974 to the Division of Bennelong, where he served until 2007. He achieved leadership of the Liberal Party from 1985 to 1989, and was re-elected in 1995, going on to take leadership of the government in 1996.
Howard’s government was notable for stricter gun laws, including a ban on shotguns and semi-automatic rifles. He also added the GST (goods and services tax) and sent troops to the Iraq and Afghan Wars in support of the US military.
7. Kevin Rudd - The Man Who Said Sorry
Star sign: Virgo
Kevin Rudd began his tenure as one of the most popular Australian Prime Ministers, and ended it as one of its most controversial. Born on September 21, 1957, in Nambour, Queensland, Rudd became a Member of Parliament in 1998, became Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs in 2001, and in 2006 became the opposition leader as the Leader of the Labor Party.
In 2007, the Labor Party won the elections by a huge margin, and Rudd started off his tenure by committing Australia to the Kyoto Protocol, and formally apologising to the indigenous populations of Australia for the forcible removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families throughout the 20th century. He also pulled out remaining Australian troops from the Iraq War and promoted economic stimulus packages, which allowed the nation to avoid the worst effects of the recession of that decade.
A combination of concerns about his micromanagement of MPs, an unpopular proposed mining tax, and the Labor Party being overall unhappy with his leadership, led to the contestation of his position by his Deputy, Julia Gillard, and his resignation in 2010. He challenged Gillard for the seat in 2013, becoming Prime Minister again, but only for three months.
6. Julia Gillard - The Woman Of Many Political Firsts
Star sign: Libra
Julia Gillard represents many firsts for women in the field of Australian politics. She’s the first female leader of either of the two major parties, first female Deputy Prime Minister, and first female Prime Minister.
Born on September 29, 1961, in Barry, Wales, Gillard and her family emigrated to Australia in 1966, making a home in Adelaide. Gillard had dual British-Australian citizenship from 1975 to 1998, when she renounced her British citizenship in order to pursue government work.
Throughout her life, politics seemed to follow closely wherever she went. She joined the Labor Club while she was studying at the University of Adelaide, became secretary of the Socialist Forum, and held the office of President of the Labor Party at Carlton.
In 2006, Gillard rose to Deputy Leader of the Opposition, becoming the first woman to hold this office. She became Prime Minister in 2010 after challenging incumbent Kevin Rudd. Her tenure was notable for the prioritisation of education, revisions on health reform, and a hard stance on unauthorised asylum seekers.
5. Ricky Ponting - The Greatest Cricket Captain Of All Time
Star sign: Sagittarius
Ask any Aussie cricket fan about the ‘greatest cricket captain of all time’ and the answer you’re likely to get is Ricky Ponting. Born on December 19, 1974, in Launceston, Tasmania, Ponting led the Australian team in Test cricket from 2004 to 2011, and ODI from 2002 to 2011, winning 220 total matches across both competitions.
He’s also considered one of the greatest cricket batsmen of all time and has been credited with giving Australia another golden age of cricket success, just like national team captains Steve Waugh and Allan Border before him.
4. Tony Abbott - The Man Who Couldn’t Be Prime Minister
Star sign: Scorpio
Born in London on November 4, 1957, the famously right-wing Tony Abbott is one of the most conservative-leaning Prime Ministers in recent memory. He’s been all over the political landscape, having served as Minister for Employment Services, Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business, and Minister for Health and Ageing, before rising up to Leader of the Coalition in 2009, closely defeating Malcolm Turnbull.
His government is associated with killing the mining tax, cracking down on corruption, and having a traditionalist stance on same-sex marriage, in a time when opinions around the world were rapidly changing.
3. Bob Hawke - Loved In The Nation
Star sign: Sagittarius
One of the most beloved leaders in Australian history, Bob Hawke was the third-longest-serving Prime Minister of Australia, having spent eight years in office between 1983 and 1991.
Born on December 9, 1929, in Bordertown, South Australia, he’s the only Australian Prime Minister to have been born in that state. He spent ten years as the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions between 1969 and 1979, after which he very publicly revealed his struggle with alcoholism which he eventually overcame.
He became an MP in 1980, becoming part of the Shadow Cabinet, ultimately ascending to Leader of the Opposition upon incumbent Bill Hayden’s resignation. Hawke secured a 24-seat swing for the Labor Party, winning the Prime Ministership by a landslide.
Throughout his tenure, Bob Hawke created the popular Medicare programme, created the highly successful inter-nation forum known as APEC, and made significant changes to pension plans between government and trade unions. He still holds the record for the highest approval rating of any Australian Prime Minister, and having led his party to victory in three consecutive elections, is the most successful Labor Leader to date.
Hawke died just last month on May 15, with a memorial service attended by thousands.
2. Neville Bonner - The Aboriginal Political Trailblazer
Star sign: Aries
The Aboriginal peoples of Australia have long been disenfranchised, but throughout the decades, a variety of leaders have risen up to change that. Neville Bonner, the first Aboriginal Australian to be elected to Parliament, is among them.
Born on March 28, 1922, in Ukerebagh Island, NSW, Bonner didn’t go to school and held odd jobs until he moved to the Palm Island settlement, where he eventually took the office of Assistant Settlement Overseer.
In 1967, he joined the Liberal Party, and became the Senator for Queensland in 1971, an office that he held from 1971 to 1983. His tenure was characterised by a strong focus on indigenous rights, for which he’d regularly cross party lines to vote. His achievements earned him the Australian of the Year award in 1979.
1. Catherine Livingstone - The Maverick Businesswoman
Star sign: Virgo
It’s more than a little ironic that the head of several old boys’ clubs in finance was a woman, but Catherine Livingstone doesn’t really care – she has a job to do.
Born on September 17, 1955, Livingstone has a variety of leadership positions across business and finance in her lifetime. She was the first woman to lead a top 100 Australian company, Cochlear, in 1994. She was the chair of CSIRO from 2001-2006, and chair of the massive Telstra from 2009 to 2016. She was president of the prestigious Business Council of Australia from 2014 to 2016, also the first woman to hold that position. Now, she’s the chair of CommBank.
All throughout these positions, she’s been notable for driving innovation and changing stagnant business processes wherever she’s led.
These famous people have shaped the Australian business, social, and political landscapes, and their influence is felt across all sectors of Australian society. Like them or not, considering their achievements, each and every one of these individuals are considered among the greatest Australian leaders of all time.