The United States’ self-imposed federal government shutdown has a way of making people around the world shake their heads in bewilderment. As Georgetown professor Erik Voeten wrote for The Washington Post’s new Monkey Cage political science blog, “I cannot think of a single foreign analogy to what is happening in the U.S. today.”
But there actually is one foreign precedent: Australia did this once. In 1975, the Australian government shut down because the legislature had failed to fund it, deadlocked by a budgetary squabble. It looked a lot like the U.S. shutdown of today, or the 17 previous U.S. shutdowns.
Australia’s 1975 shutdown ended pretty differently, though, than they do here in America. Queen Elizabeth II’s official representative in Australia, Governor General Sir John Kerr, simply dismissed the prime minister. He appointed a replacement, who immediately passed the spending bill to fund the government. Three hours later, Kerr dismissed the rest of Parliament. Then Australia held elections to restart from scratch. And they haven’t had another shutdown since.