The finals for the Australian Open will be played this weekend. The winner of both the men’s and the women’s competition will not only win the Australian Open; they will also rate as the one tennis player (man or women) in the world. Victoria Azarenka will face off with Maria Sharapova in the women’s finals. No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic will play Rafael Nadal in the men’s final round.
Something else happened this week in Australia. The Australians celebrated Independence Day also known as Australia Day. The 26th of January commemorates the day when the first fleet of 11 ships, sent by the Admiralty in England, sailed into Sydney Harbor. Captain Arthur Phillip sought to establish a penal colony at Botany Bay on the coast of New South Wales in 1788. However, the location did not prove to be suitable for an immediate settlement so the fleet moved on. Survival gave the British regulars something in common with the convicts and soon British citizens and convicts alike celebrated Australia Day for the sake of “love and the land they lived in”.
Gold rushes and agricultural settlement booms brought colonists to Australia from all over the world. By the 1890’s 2 constitutional conventions had been formed. In January of 1901 the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act had been entered into force as an Act of the British Parliament. By the way, some Australians celebrate Australian Independence Day on January 1rst because that was the day Australians achieved the independence to govern their own people.
Australia Day is celebrated with family meetings, picnics, barbecues, parades, citizenship ceremonies, the Order of Australia honors, and the Australian of the Year presentation award. This year Geoffrey Rush was awarded the Australian of the Year award. As an actor he has won an Oscar, a Tony, an Emmy, and Australia’s Helpmann Award. He is the foundation President of the newly established Australia Academy of Cinema and T.V. Arts.
Who is the head of the government of Australia? That would be Queen Elizabeth II also known as the Queen of England. Australia has a constitutional monarchy. The constitution adapted around the turn of the 20th Century took the monarchy and parliament parts of government from government in Great Britain. It took federalism from the United States. And it took the use of referendum from the Swiss style governmental decisions. Power in Australia is divided between the Australian government and 6 states.
Announcers on the Australian Open said that there were a lot of hangovers and fireworks around town this Thursday. The beaches were crowded. The tennis players were tanned and swinging hard. What a great week to be in Australia.