This Big Sister would certainly be in favour of giving compulsory voting a try. Photograph: Getty Images

Imagine what kind of Ireland we would have if all those who tend not to vote came out and made their voices heard in the upcoming general election. If(...)

Political outfit: Julia Gillard as prime minister, in 2013. Photograph: Lisa Maree Williams/Bloomberg

Not too many political autobiographies feature the word “bastard” on the first page, but then Julia Gillard’s My Story is pretty straight-talking. Now(...)

Downtown Sydney: while the IMF is concerned the housing market in Australia is overheating, experts point to the ‘natural rise in capital city property’. Photograph: Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images

Australia’s unemployment level is at a 12-year high (though at 6.4 per cent it’s still far lower than in most developed countries), its interest rate (...)

Australia’s prime minister Tony Abbott, who says his government has had ‘a year of achievement’ and that repealing the carbon tax is his greatest achievement for women. Photograph: Lukas Coch/EPA

Sometimes a phrase just sticks with a government. Historians will have two great contenders when looking to sum up how last year went for Australia(...)

Tobacco consumption in Australia is at its lowest since statistics were first gathered in 1959. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper the Australian has declared in a front page “exclusive” that plain packaging for cigarettes has failed because sales(...)

Leadership candidate: Joan Burton. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

‘The leader’s role in election victories and defeats is greatly exaggerated,” says Archie Brown. “In a very, very tight contest the relative popularit(...)

Australia’s then foreign minister Bob Carr talking to reporters after a news conference in Jakarta on April 3rd, 2013. In his just-launched book, “Diary of a Foreign Minister”, Carr says he had “more energy than 16 gladiators”. Photograph: Reuters

It’s not often that a former foreign minister gets called a “tosser” in a newspaper headline, but not many former foreign ministers publish dia(...)

Protesters burn pictures of Australian prime minister Tony Abbott during an anti-spying protest outside the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. Recent evidence that the Australian government has used phone tapping mechanisms to spy on the Indonesian president and first lady, has caused a rift between the two countries. Photograph: Oscar Siagian/Getty Images

Tony Abbott will be very happy to get to Christmas after a testing first three months as Australia’s prime minister – happy that Australians are about(...)

Surfers carrying their boards walk past two women sunbathing and a sign warning swimmers of dangerous surf conditions on an autumn day at Sydney’s Manly Beach today. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters

After 22 years of unbroken prosperity, Australia now faces “serious economic challenges”, the inaugural Australia Lecture in Dublin heard last nigh(...)

Australia's new man

‘The people voted for change and change they will get.” Tony Abbott, Australia’s prime minister-elect, is most adamant that he will see his new mandat(...)