Originally Posted by viviena
Formal British English uses single quotation marks for dialogue. Formal Australian English usually follows this.
Speaking for myself, I've always been taught to use single quotation marks with dialogue, and this is the recommended usage in some local academic style guides. It was certainly something I had to be careful to do at university in certain departments. In Australia however, outside academia, the government and maybe other arenas, it's a mix of British and American practices, or single and double quotation marks.
Thanks for clarifying that, viviena. The single quotation marks did distract me when I first began reading my Australian sister-in-law's autobiography, but it quickly ceased to be an issue for me. She is such a talented writer that I got lost in the story, and I no longer noticed the single quotes. Still, I did wonder about that!