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In 1999 a new program of civics and citizenship education, Discoverign Democracy, will be operating in Australian schools. This book is designed for Australian citizens of all sorts as a painless introduction to the government and law of their country.

This is not a textbook. I have not always hidden my own views, but where they are plain the reader will also find views different from my own. The book will still have served its purpose if readers quarrel with it. Needless to say, the views expressed here have no official sanction.

At the end of the book there is a summary account of today's government system. How it came to be this way is explained in the main text. Readers seeking information on a particular point may well find it treated in bothe parts of the book; the index will guide them to the relevant pages.

I am indebted to my colleagues from the Civics Education Group for encouraging me to write the book and giving me their criticisms of it. I am particularly grateful for the support and advice of Stuart Macintyre, whose report Whereas the People launched the program to reinvigorate civics and citizzenship education.

Dr David Kemp, the minister responsible for the civics and citizenship program, has been a constant source of encouragement.

John Hirst
Chair, Civics Education Group

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