Looking from down under, the long U.S. election cycle ensures that there is no shortage of political headlines generated more than a year out from the actual Presidential election. Many of you may not realise that Australia is also readying itself to enter campaign mode. A federal election is anticipated to be held before the end of the year. You can be sure as the Australian parties get out on the hustings, babies will be kissed, doors knocked and hands vigorously shook -- but this election campaign is already a lot different to others, with digital media playing a new and important role.

Today, in Sydney, we announced the launch of a Google Australia election website, so that Australian voters can have an intimate look at the parties, candidates and election issues, all in one Google location. These services, spanning Search, Maps, News, video, Earth, Trends, and iGoogle, enable voters to organise, find and share Australian election information more easily than ever.

We created a Picasa Web Album to showcase all the elements, and we're pleased to offer these world-first tools that were developed in our Australian office. Here's hoping Australians will find them useful and even fun. It's our view that democracy on the web works -- and the web can work for democracy.