Freedom in the World
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The Labor Party government in 2009 continued to grapple with the complex problems of immigration, racially motivated violence, and poor conditions in Aboriginal settlements. Also during the year, a quadriplegic man won a court battle to stop being fed and be allowed to die, advancing the cause of voluntary euthanasia or assisted suicide.
In another effort to own up to past wrongdoings committed by the state, Rudd apologized in November to tens of thousands of men and women who were abused or neglected in state care as children between 1930 and 1970. Many of the affected individuals were brought to Australia as children from Britain, without the knowledge or consent of their parents, under a British government-sponsored migrant scheme.
Australia is an electoral democracy. The British monarch is represented as head of state by a governor-general, who is appointed on the recommendation of the prime minister. Quentin Bryce, a former governor of Queensland, became the first female governor-general in 2008. The prime minister is the leader of the majority party or coalition in Parliament.