Let’s get one point clear at the beginning: Australia does not have a legally entrenched principle, or even a vague set of conventions, of the separation of church and state. From the appointment of Rev. Samuel Marsden as one of the first magistrates in colonial New South Wales, to the adoption of explicit policies of state aid for denominational schools during the 1960s, to the two examples mentioned above, Australia has had a very consistent tradition of cooperation between church and state. ‘Separation of church and state’, along with ‘the separation of powers’ or ‘pleading the Fifth’, are phrases that we have learned from the US, and which merely serve to confuse once they are taken out of the context of the American Constitution.
My two cents
This citation follows on from some comments I made earlier in the month about the religious mindset in Australia; I’m glad I found it, and moreso that I can share it.
Back to America, it is a world leader—both in Christianity, yet probably also in atheism. I think one reason for this is America’s large population, which is large enough to support a critical mass for both sides.
It’s interesting how Australians get a lot of influence from American TV programs and the like, but thankfully the church and state issue hasn’t rubbed off in quite the same way. Rather, it’s ended up as an empty-headed parroting (by certain Australians) of whatever Thomas Jefferson thought was right—something that can be swiftly rebuffed in an Australian setting.
I like how the Lord’s Prayer is said at the beginning of Australian Parliamentary sessions to this day; apparently there was talk back in 2008 to end it. Thankfully that got nixed by the leaders from both sides of Parliament.
Hogan, M. (2001). Separation of church and state? Available: http://www.australianreview.net/digest/2001/05/hogan.html. Last accessed 20th Dec 2012.