title
macrohistory & world report

Australia

Map of Australia

Australia (capital Canberra) and neighboring states

World Factbook as of November 2014: "The Australian economy has experienced continuous growth and features low unemployment, contained inflation, very low public debt, and a strong and stable financial system. By 2012, Australia had experienced more than 20 years of continued economic growth, averaging 3.5% a year. Demand for resources and energy from Asia and especially China has grown rapidly, creating a channel for resources investments and growth in commodity exports. The high Australian dollar has hurt the manufacturing sector, while the services sector is the largest part of the Australian economy, accounting for about 70% of GDP and 75% of jobs. Australia was comparatively unaffected by the global financial crisis as the banking system has remained strong and inflation is under control."

Economic growth rate
2013: 2.5%
2012: 3.3%
2011: 2.1%

Unemployment rate
2013: 5.7%
2011: 5.1%
2010: 5.2%

(2013) Australia has a national heath care system, introduced in 1984, financed by taxing 1.5 percent of income. It covers two-thirds of most doctor fees and public hospital care. One-third of health care costs are paid either out of pocket by patients or by their private health care insurance. Seventy-five percent of all hospital beds are in public hospitals, 25 percent in private hospitals. People with private health insurance choose their own doctor and hospital and have less of a wait for non-urgent procedures.

Australia is said to have produced an abundance of "important medical researchers and scientists."

(2013) Taxes
Nation sales tax (value added tax) is at 10 percent. For a single worker without children, in the year 2001, including contributions to Social Security, an Australian earning an average wage paid 23.1 percent of income for taxes. In the US this was 30 percent, in Belgium 55.6 percent.

Crime (2013)
Australia has had 0.01 murders per 1,000 population, compared to 0.04 for the United States. It has had 1.56 in prison compared to 7.15 in the United States and 0.85 for France.

Import/export ratio
2010: favorable

Miltary expenditures as a percentage of GDP
2006: 2.4% (BBC News)

People

Living in an urban area
2010: 89%

Ethnic groups
Ninety-two percent are Caucasian, 7 percent Asian, and 1 percent aboriginal and others. Anglicans and Catholics are about equal in number, each around 26 percent of the population. Other Christians are 24 percent, and the rest 24 percent. 

Net migration rate
2012: More people arriving than leaving. A net gain of 5.93 persons per 1,000 population.

(2013) Gender gap
The World Economic Forum lists Australia as eighth in the world in the elimination of a gender gap. This is ahead of the United States, which does not appear among the top ten.

Ethnic groups
White 92%, Asian 7%, Aboriginal and other 1%.

(2013) Happiness
The happiness survey, described at Nationmaster.com, gives Australia a 90 percent rating compared to 84 for United States, 2 for Russia and minus 24 for Bulgaria.

Government

Chief of state: Elizabeth II (queen, House of Windsor). Name: the Commonwealth of Australia. Parliament is bicamera: the Senate as 76 members, 12 from each of the six states, and the House of Representatives has 150 members. All are elected by popular vote.

Recent History

January 1, 1901: Australia becomes independent from the Federation of United Kingdom (British) colonies.

1999: A referendum to make Australia a republi, by removing the Queen of England as head of state, is defeated. 

September 9, 2010:

During the recent global downturn, Australia had one of the best-performing economies, and with the Labor Party in power. This has helped the Labor Party in elections, while conservatives have portrayed the Labor government as having been reckless in its saddling the nation with record debts and deficits.

Today, the leader of the Labor Party, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, forms a minority government for her second term in office. Ms Gillard says she will be held to the highest standards of transparency and reform. She has promised better education, health and telecommunications services.

In May, 55% of Austrialians polled believed that Australia had become a nanny state. This was 59% for those who lived in a rural area and 61% for those over fifty. One man described the Australian way of life as having the freedom to do what you like as long as you're not hurting anybody. He complained of government telling him where he can fly a kite with his children, how he can enjoy a beer and what sort of food he can eat.

In Australia, too much boozing has become a public issue, and Australia has its environmental issues.

According to the CIA World Factbook, "Tasmania is one of the world's major suppliers of licit opiate products; government maintains strict controls over areas of opium poppy cultivation and output of poppy straw concentrate; major consumer of cocaine and amphetamines."

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.