The political system down under can be a confusing thing to get a handle on for Americans. Having studied the issue extensively for a couple of minutes during my lunch break today, I believe I have figured out the basics.
Australia has what is known as a “parliamentary system” of government, which it inherited from England, which is a country inhabited by “poms” – or, as they are sometimes affectionately called, “pommy bastards”. Parliamentary government in Australia, however, has undergone significant changes from the original template. The government is headed by a “Prime Minister”, who is selected from among the members of the majority party of the House of Representatives. This is accomplished in the following fashion:
All of the majority party representatives climb into the beds of a convoy of Holden Utes, which are driven at high speed down a bumpy dry-wash. The convoy proceeds back and forth until all of the representatives, save one, have fallen off of the vehicles. The person who has succeeded in clinging on to the end becomes Prime Minister.
The last Prime Minister was Kevin Rudd, whose experience living in a car during his youth is thought to have given him an advantage in the selection process. He was best known as an avid consumer of his own earwax. One day, he had finally eaten so much earwax that he regained his hearing. But his happiness was short-lived, because, by the time he could hear again, practically the first thing he heard was the clamoring of his fellow party members for his removal. This was accomplished by means of a “deal” (not, as one would expect, as the result of the Ute selection process) under which Julia Gillard – chosen by her colleagues because of her ability to distract voters from noticing her Party’s mistakes by virtue of her mesmerizing red hair and peculiar accent – replaced Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister. She has, I believe, called for an “election” (which involves two Ute convoys – one filled fill with Labor Party candidates, one filled with Liberal Party candidates – playing a mass game of chicken).
Cricket and bandicoots figure into the business somewhere, but I haven’t quite worked that out yet.