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September 5, 2013

DHS students get international lesson

DUNCAN — A visit from Australian Consul General Mauro Kolobaric might have left Duncan High School students with a better understanding of Australia.

Kolobaric, who is in charge of the Australian Embassy in Washington, D.C., was invited to Duncan by the Duncan Rotary Club. As part of his visit, he visited Duncan High School to give educate students about his country.

“It’s a great honor to represent your country overseas,” Kolobaric said. “I represent the interests of Australia.”

He arrived in Duncan on Tuesday and was slated to speak to Rotary members Wednesday. But his initial stop Wednesday was at the school, where he gave a presentation about Australia.

Throughout the presentation, Kolobaric drew parallels between Australia and the United States, including a relation of the three forms of government (federal, state and local).

He said Australia also has two branches of Parliament (Senate and House of Representatives), which are based in the United States.

“Like the U.S., Australia is made up immigrants,” Kolobaric said. “There are 23 million people. One-fourth of the Australian population was born overseas.”

Although Australia has 23 million people, the population is still less than the entire state of Texas, which has 26 million people.

Australia also has a written constitution, much like the United States. As with the United States, Australia is a founding member of the United Nations.

While Kolobaric alluded to similarities between Australia and the United States, he also talked about some differences. DHS students Aubrey Mouser and Kaylee Jennings said they learned one of the biggest differences was voting in Australia.

In Australia, voting is mandatory. Kolobaric said about 99 percent of registered voters vote in every election because they take their right to vote seriously.

“You get fined if you don’t vote,” he said.

Mouser and Jennings said this was one thing that stood out to them because they know how low voter turnout can be in the United States.

After the presentation, Kolobaric talked with some of the school’s student leaders (including Jennings and Mouser). He said being able to educate Duncan High School students about his country is part of his job, which focuses on relations between Australia and other communities.

“I am honored to be in Duncan,” Kolobaric said. “I am honored to be at your school. Duncan is a warm inviting city.”

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