In a classic sixth-season episode of The Simpsons, Bart is indicted for fraud in Australia after a long-distance collect call to a home in the outback sticks its residents with an astronomical phone bill. Bart's mistake, we soon learn, was to prank the friend of a member of Parliament, who appeals to his prime minister for help in punishing the cheeky American. Australia's head of government, a middle-aged bogan who answers to "Andy," is introduced floating in a cow pond, nude and sipping a can of Foster's.
If this is the only image most Americans have of Australian politics, they can hardly be blamed. Like a sun-baked, antipodean Canada, Australia has flown below the radar thanks to its own success and constancy. It's a nation that breeds odd wildlife and imperceptibly foreign Hollywood stars, but little in the way of Machiavellian intrigue. If you've read anything at all about Canberra, Australia's remote capital, it's probably that the planned seat of government is pleasantly dull.
But if you didn't catch the events in Canberra last week, you missed a political drama worthy of House of Cards, in which an unexpected last-minute shift in allegiances allowed a former premier to retake the executive reins from his predecessor.