The New York Post isn’t alone. A European Crikey subscriber writes:

On Sydney as capital, easy for you guys to take pot shots at that NY tabloid – but how about the left record of choice The Guardian?
I picked one up in Heathrow on Nov 5 and kept a tear out from page 36
titled “Been there: Sydney” which implores readers for “your tips on
the best things to do and see in Australia’s beautiful capital. From
hidden harbour hangouts to modern fusion cuisine, gay nightlife or
barbecues on the beach, tell us what to do…”

Incidentally, The Guardian
is in good company. We were just at my son’s French Swiss school
Christmas show which had a point where parents were asked general
knowledge questions by the kids. One of the questions was “what is the
capital of Australia?” We put our hands up and got the nod. “Canberra”
we said smugly. The 7 year old consulted his sheet and shook his head
sadly at us. “Wrong” he said. He moved on to another parent who said
“Sydney.” “Correct” he said. We said “No it isn’t.” Another parent put
up her hand. “The capital of Australia is Sydney, I know this.” The
other parents all nodded firmly.

So, perhaps it’s time to start using the words “administrative capital” for Canberra. Like who the hell has heard of Putrajaya? It’s only the seat of government of our nearest fellow members of the Commonwealth, Malaysia.

Indeed, why stop there? Share things around. Get outside the SCAM – the Sydney/Canberra/Melbourne triangle. The Wikipedia lists a number of examples of multiple capitals:

A number of cases exist where states or other entities have
multiple capitals. In South Africa, for example, the administrative
capital is Pretoria, the legislative capital is Cape Town, and the
judicial capital is Bloemfontein, the outcome of the compromise that
created the Union of South Africa in 1910.

In others, the
“effective” and “official” capital may differ for pragmatic reasons,
resulting in a situation where a city known as “the capital” is not, in
fact, host to the seat of government:

  • Yamoussoukro was designated the national capital of Cote d’Ivoire
    in 1983, but as of 2004 most government offices and embassies were
    still located in Abidjan.
  • Sucre is still the constitutional capital of Bolivia, but
    most of the national government long abandoned that region for La Paz.
  • Amsterdam is the nominal national capital of the Netherlands
    even though the Dutch government and supreme court are both located in
    The Hague.

In such cases, the city housing the
administrative capital is usually understood to be the “national
capital” among outsiders. For instance, Santiago is understood to be
the capital of Chile even though its Congress is in Valparaiso.

Peter Fray

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Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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