The three levels of Australia's Government

'The Bush Capital'

Students arriving in Sydney would be forgiven for making the common mistake that they are in the nation’s capital.  The city is the nation’s economic engine, the largest city by population and both the Prime Minister and Governor General enjoy residences on our beautiful harbour. 

This accolade, however, belongs to Canberra, affectionately known as ‘The Bush Capital”. A city of public servants, hosting major institutions and departments such as the High Court of Australia, Parliament, The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of Defence.  For some, Canberra might resemble the workings of Washington D.C.

Each semester, NYU Sydney students get the opportunity to travel to Canberra in order to learn about our policies, processes, checks and balances, and systems of governance.  

More Jakarta, Less Geneva

Once seen as a political outpost of Westminster, Australian Federation and a gradual jettisoning of historical baggage in the Pacific has led to the adoption of not only a robust domestic system of governance, but an increasingly independent foreign policy, described as ‘More Jakarta, Less Geneva’. 

Australia is a constructive middle power learning to embrace our geography, history and new opportunities within the world’s most dynamic region, now officially recognised as ‘The Indo-Pacific’. Our unique relationships with neighbouring states and commitment to multilateral institutions has led to Australia playing either a constructive or lead role in the region. Australia is a strategic partner to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a member of the East Asian Summit (EAS) and was instrumental in the creation of the Asia Pacific Economic Community (APEC). 

Our relationship with the Pacific Islands remains robust with Australia by far the largest aid donor for the region. The Pacific Islands Community or PIC (formerly the South Pacific Commission) was also formed under the guidance of Australia and remains the premier organisation of the Islands.

A renewed focus on economies within the Indo-Pacific region has played a major role in Australia enjoying almost 28 years without economic recession, a record for any developed economy.

Within 15 years, four of the world’s five largest economies, measured by purchasing power parity will exist in Asia. Changes in the region’s development, an emerging middle class and challenges of aging populations are opening a new era of opportunity for Australian investment and expertise.