Tuesday, August 7, 2018

More Interesting Oz Facts


John Keogh 

In 2001 the Australian Government introduced a new patent system that allowed much easier online applications to be made for patents. Melbourne patent lawyer John Keogh felt that the system had flaws, the main one being the apparent rubberstamping of applications without adequate, or any, checking. To prove it, he applied for, and was granted, a patent for a "circular transportation facilitation device" - more commonly known as the wheel. 

Technical drawing from John Keogh’s application 

He was awarded an Ig-Nobel Prize in 2001 for his patent, the award cotation reading: 

TECHNOLOGY: Awarded jointly to John Keogh of Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia, for patenting the wheel in the year 2001, and to the Australian Patent Office for granting him Innovation Patent #2001100012. [NOTE: Several years after this prize was awarded, the patent office quietly revoked Mr. Keogh's patent.] 

According to Bob Cooper of Snake Rescue and Relocation Training, 21 of the world’s most venomous snakes are found in Oz: 


The 1967 referendum approved a change to the Australian Constitution to count Australian aborigines in the census when counting the population. Section 127 of the Constitution, removed by the referendum, had read: In reckoning the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth, or of a State or other part of the Commonwealth, aboriginal natives shall not be counted.” The reason was that allocation of seats in the Lower House and per capita grants were determined according to population numbers. The Constitution prevented Queensland and Western Australia using their large Aboriginal populations to gain extra seats or extra funds. 

It is frequently stated that the 1967 referendum gave Aboriginal people Australian citizenship and that it gave them the right to vote in federal elections, but neither of these statements is correct. 
  • All Australians, including aboriginal people, first became Australian citizens in 1949, when a separate Australian citizenship was created; before that time all Australians rather were British subjects. 
  • Most Indigenous Australians had been denied the right to vote in elections for the Australian Parliament until 1949. The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1949 gave Aboriginal people the right to vote in federal elections if they were able to vote in their state elections (they were disqualified from voting altogether in Queensland, while in Western Australia and the Northern Territory the right was conditional), or if they had served in the defence force. 
  • The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1962 gave all Aboriginal people the option of enrolling to vote in federal elections. 
  • It was not until the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Act 1983 that voting became compulsory for Aboriginal people, as it was for other Australians. 

For overseas readers not aware, Australia has compulsory voting in Federal, Stater and Local elections, a fine being incurred for not voting unless a good and acceptable reason is provided. Australia introduced compulsory enrolment for voting at federal elections in 1912, 11 years after independence Great Britain. 

Strictly it’s not the voting that is compulsory, it is having one’s name marked off on the electoral roll. To vote, one has to queue to finally get to an electoral officer who asks your name, then looks it up on the roll. He or she asks for your address (no ID is required) and who then asks “Have you voted before in this election?” I usually answer “Yes, lots of time”, or “Yes, earlier this morning”, or “Yes, I’m a Labor voter and you know the saying: ‘Vote early and vote often.’ “ On one occasion the electoral officer, a young lady, looked non-plussed when I said that I had voted a number of times earlier. After a pause I asked “What happens now?” She replied “I don’t know, no-one has answered like that before.” 

The world's largest rock is not actually Uluru (formerly known as Ayre’s Rock), but Mount Augustus in Western Australia. Mount Augustus is actually twice the size of Uluru. 


Mount Augustus 

Australia actually exports camels to the Middle East. Imported into Australia from British India and Afghanistan during the 19th century for transport and construction during the colonisation of the central and western parts of Australia, many were released into the wild after motorised transport replaced the use of camels in the early 20th century, resulting in a fast-growing feral population. By 2008, it was feared that Central Australia's feral camel population had grown to about one million and was projected to double every 8 to 10 years. Camels are known to cause serious degradation of local environmental and cultural sites particularly during dry conditions. A $19 million management program was funded in 2009 and upon completion in 2013, the feral population was estimated to have been reduced to around 300,000. 

We all know that the wombat eats roots and leaves, but did you know that it poos cubes? It’s true and it’s not because it has a square rectum. Wombats have a long digestive process which takes about 14-18 days. Most of the moisture and nutrients are absorbed, with the resulting hard and compact excrement, as well as the lack of muscle contraction in the wombat's rectum, failing to shape the poo in the usual cylindrical fashion. This results in cubic poo. 

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