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Australia drifts even closer to America
Being a kiwi, who has lived a long time in the UK, with lots of close ties with (continental) Europeans, Americans, and Australians, I believe I can say something about the "closeness" of the relative cultures.
Most folk make the assumption that Kiwi's and Australians are close to each other, and closer to poms than they are Americans. Not so. Sportingly Australia and NZ are close (and that's a big part of culture, but it's not all). In my mind, if we plotted points on a plane for each "culture", we'd probably have a line from the UK to the US, with Australia closer to the US end, and NZ closer to the UK end (and with Germany and the rest of Europe off the line, but a similar sort of distance away from NZ to the UK ... much closer to NZ than the US)!
Anyway, more evidence for my hypothesis about the Australians being closer to the US is their behaviour of climate issues. I discovered over the weekend that the Austalian www.csiro.au had binned most if not all of it's world famous climate group. Unbelievable. Howard appoints a bunch of coal and oil blokes to the csiro board, and the climate group is canned. Not hard to make that connection. What amazes me is that either I've been even more myopic than usual, or the Australian environmental community has failed to make nearly enough noise about this (or both).
So it's all evidence that Australian federal political culture is moving down that line closer to the American federal political culture (and thus the cultures themselves are converging ...). However, one has to make a strong distinction ... at least the American climate community is strong and fighting back!