About Australia

The host country of ICEGOV2019 is Australia. Its name derivatives from the Latin expression Terra Australis (meaning southern land), and is officially known as the Commonwealth of Australia. It is a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy with Elizabeth II as its Queen. The territory is divided in six states, together with ten federal territories, and it comprises the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world’s sixth-largest country by total area. The capital is Canberra and the largest city is Sydney.

For about 60,000 years before the first British settlement in the late 18th century, Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians. After the European discovery of the continent by Dutch explorers in 1606, Australia’s eastern half was claimed by Great Britain in 1770 and initially settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales from 26 January 1788. The population grew steadily in subsequent decades, and by the 1850s most of the continent had been explored by the European settlers and an additional five self-governing crown colonies established. On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated, forming the Commonwealth of Australia. Australia has since maintained a stable liberal democratic political system that functions as a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy comprising six states and several territories.

Australia has the world’s 13th-largest economy and tenth-highest per capita income (IMF). With the second-highest human development index globally, the country ranks highly in quality of life, health, education, economic freedom, and civil liberties and political rights. Australia is a member of the ASEAN Plus mechanism, United Nations, G20, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, and the Pacific Islands Forum. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard.

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LANGUAGE: There is no official language in Australia. However, English is considered the de facto national language. Australian English is a major variety of the language with a distinctive accent and lexicon, and differs slightly from other varieties of English in grammar and spelling.

TIMEZONE: Australia has 3 different timezones. For the city of Melbourne, the timezone is AEST – Australian Eastern Standard Time – which is 10 hours ahead of UTC and, with daylight saving, 11 hours ahead of UTC. This happens between October and April each year. For the current time in Melbourne, please consult this website. During the conference (3-5 April), the timezone of Melbourne will be Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT).

WEATHER: Australia’s climate varies greatly throughout its territory. There are four seasons across most of the country and a wet and dry season in the tropical north. The seasons are at opposite times to those in the northern hemisphere.: December to February is summer; March to May is autumn; June to August is winter; and September to November is spring. ICEGOV2019 will take place during autumn (3-5 April) and temperatures in Melbourne are expected to vary between 11-20 degrees Celsius (51-68 Fahrenheit). Rainfall can occur during this period.

CURRENCY: the currency in Australia is the Australian dollar ($ AUD). This variant of the dollar is divided in 100 cents and is one of the most traded currencies by value in the world. The coins come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents, and 1 and 2 dollars. The banknotes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollars. It is common to find notes of any denomination being used in daily transactions, even the $100 note, but its use is less common and smaller stores might refuse to accept such a high denomination for small purchases. Due to the unfavorable rates, usually coupled with fees and/or commissions for exchanging money at currency counters, it is recommended that you withdraw money from ATM machines, as needed, preferably using a bank affiliated with your bank when possible. Credit cards are largely accepted and ATM’s are available. Traveller’s Cheques are not generally accepted.

ELECTRICITY: The electrical supply in Australia is 230V 50Hz. The plugs and sockets are Type I, that is, two flat pins in a V-shape and a grounding pin, as shown in this picture.

DRIVING: Australia is a left-hand traffic country. Traffic signs are standard international traffic signs, measurements are metric, and international driving laws apply. A valid driving license is required to drive: foreign licences in English are considered valid for driving in Australia for visitors for three months. If your licence is not in English, an International Driving Permit (issued in your home country before arrival) is required. Visitors from the following countries may convert their foreign licenses to an Australian one after paying an administrative fee: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guernsey, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Japan, Jersey, Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States. All other foreign license holders are required to sit for a theory and practical test before they can get an Australian license.

MEASUREMENTS: All measurements in Australia are metric, as are weights. Temperature scale is Celsius.

SMOKING: Federal law bans smoking in all Australian Commonwealth government buildings, public transport, airports, and international and domestic flights. In addition to this, smoking is prohibited in all enclosed public places and in vehicles with children for the Victoria territory (where Melbourne is located). Tobacco products cannot be sold or supplied to persons under 18 years old. The Australian Government has made very few laws on electronic cigarettes and leaves it up to the states.

TAX: Most goods in Australia are subject to 10% GST (goods & services tax). This includes things bought in shops, as well as dining out. The only exemptions are fresh food such as milk, bread, etc. All prices listed include tax, so you should never have to pay more than the advertised price.

TIPPING: It is not mandatory to tip in Australia, no matter the kind of service provided. However, you can tip if you feel like doing so.

INSURANCE: The Conference Organisers or its agents will not be responsible for any medical expenses, loss or accidents incurred during the conference. Participants are strongly advised to arrange their own personal insurance to cover medical and other expenses including accident or loss. It is recommended that citizens from the European Union countries bring with them an European Health Insurance Card card.