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The head of state is the governor general, who is appointed by the queen on the advice of the federal government, headed by the prime minister. There is a strong popular movement for a republic.

After the white invasion in 1788, the indigenous Aboriginal peoples were dispossessed of their land by the doctrine of terra nullius. This doctrine was overturned in the early 1990s by the High Court’s Mabo decision, which has been a source of intense political conflict over land rights ever since. Australia has had a long history of immigration. English is the dominant language. Most Australians live on the east coast, in and around three state capital cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane) and the national capital (Canberra). These cities, along with Adelaide and Perth, have strong lesbian and gay communities.