Why do Australians swear so much
Australia's record economic miracleWhere has the prosperity gone?
It has long been a ritual. Every three months, at the beginning of every quarter, the Australian Treasury Secretary appears in front of the press in Canberra and provides information on the state of the local economy. Has it shrunk, has it stagnated, or has it grown? There have been other finance ministers since 1991, but the good news has stayed the same.
Australia's economy has been growing steadily for 26 years or 104 quarters. That's a world record. The longest upswing ever recorded, longer than in the Netherlands, the previous record holder. Australia's Acting Treasury Secretary Scott Morrison sits in the nest.
"A whole generation of Australians grew up without experiencing a recession. It's a huge achievement, but not something we should take for granted. Our economic performance was made by every Australian who went to work every day, a company founded or otherwise contributed to our prosperity. "
Immigration land of unlimited possibilities
A strong banking and financial sector, a functioning health care system, social welfare and an unbroken stable wholesale trade, especially in raw materials: Australia's record economic miracle is no coincidence and it did not come overnight. It was planned a long time ago and a long time ago.
The year 1983. Michael Jackson's "Thriller" becomes the best-selling album of all time, the "Stern" falls for the forged Hitler diaries and the country's economic history is being rewritten in Australia. By means of radical reforms, the government gave up political control over the Australian dollar, interest and wages, and tariff walls were removed. "We went from being one of the most strictly regulated nations to an open market economy," recalls financial journalist George Megalogenis.
Australia was armed against the ups and downs of the world markets. As the only developed economy, Australians escaped any major shock wave of modern globalization. George Megalogenis lists: "There was the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s, the US technology crash at the turn of the millennium and in 2008 the global financial crisis."
"Our banks remained liquid, the government used the budget surplus and issued $ 1,000 checks to the entire population, which they were supposed to issue - as a patriotic duty, so to speak. The central bank cut interest rates and entrepreneurs cut their employees' hours rather than reducing them The whole economy stuck together and defied the crisis. Australia acted in an exemplary manner at the time. "
As the thirteenth largest economy, Australia is not the richest country in the world, but it is one of the most carefree: a stable unemployment rate of around six percent, high wages and a steady upswing. Mainly thanks to a historical raw material boom - and immigration. Because not only is Australia's economy growing steadily, but also Australia's population.
What began as a settlement program for the former penal colony of the British Empire after the two world wars soon created a new home for people looking for a fresh start. Australia became a land of immigration with unlimited possibilities.
In the solemnly decorated City Hall of Sydney, naturalization ceremony for 30 new Australians - young and from all over the world. The migrants from Brazil, France, Ireland, the Philippines, China, Vietnam and Wales swear proudly and in unison, the oath of loyalty to the Australian flag. A handshake from the mayor, a photo with a certificate for the family album - and Australia has 30 new citizens.
Around 190,000 people from around the world become Australians each year. Like millions of immigrants before them, they not only enrich the country culturally, they are also an economic factor. Or as economist Chris Richardson calls it: human capital.
"Australia takes in more migrants than most other wealthy countries - especially young, highly qualified immigrants. An ideal combination also against increasing aging. If you want to raise the standard of living of your own population, you don't just let immigrants into the country at random make sure that they are the right ones. "
Class instead of mass. Australia has a strict immigration law. Whether accountant, architect, doctor, IT specialist or craftsman: a professional qualification counts more than family reunification. In addition, there are around 750,000 people with temporary work visas. Most of the later immigrants come from this pool. Those who are educated, needed and committed to the social values of the country are welcome. However, economic migrants and immigrants who prefer ethnic demarcation in parallel societies or who just want to make themselves comfortable in the social hammock have to stay outside. Immigration and economic recovery go hand in hand in Australia - including the side effects.
Less living space, rising rents in the big cities
Rush hour in Sydney, creeping traffic everywhere, bumper to bumper - for miles. Immigrants are drawn to the big cities, to where the jobs are. More and more people in Australia's metropolises mean less and less living space, rising rents and astronomical real estate prices.
Melbourne skyline. Every weekend, properties worth hundreds of millions of euros go under the hammer in Australia. (picture alliance / dpa / Heikki Saukkomaa)
Every weekend, properties worth hundreds of millions of euros go under the hammer in Australia. In 1991 the average price for a house in Sydney was just over 100,000 euros, today it is almost 600,000 euros. It's similarly expensive in Melbourne. Political scientist Ian McAllister from the University of Canberra regularly surveys the state of the mood barometer in the country. He found out: Despite the continuous upswing, Australians consider themselves less wealthy than before.
"We have been very pessimistic about the local economy and their own financial situation for a long time. This is due to high taxes and even higher property prices. What is particularly interesting, however, is that the population does not trust the government to improve their situation."
Wealthy foreign investors are also fueling house prices. A speculative bubble that continues to expand. Anyone who wants to get involved in the real estate market has to go into huge debt. The debt burden of private households in Australia is twice the disposable income, more than in almost any other country in the world. And right in the middle: the generation of Australians for whom recession is a foreign word.
"I'm worried about affordable housing," complains a young man in Sydney. "I cannot imagine that I will ever be able to afford a home." His brother, a student, also shakes his head: "The statistics may look good, but where is our wealth? Where can we see that we have had economic growth for over 20 years?"
Digital revolution falls victim to a change of power
Large corporations would be courted, the little man would be fleeced and only shortly before the election would they be lured back with tax breaks. Economists criticize that Australian governments - left as well as conservative - squandered the billions of the century raw material boom. Local public transport in the metropolitan areas is poorly developed or not at all. The second airport for Sydney, announced for decades, is still not built and a high-speed train between Brisbane and Melbourne is still a long way off. And then there is the mess of the national broadband network NBN.
It is the largest and most complex infrastructure project in Australia's history. By 2020, all Australian households, businesses and offices, whether in cities or in the sparsely populated outback, should have a high-speed internet connection. Government commercials promise a digital revolution.
Even the most remote corner of the vast Australian continent can be reached with just a click of the mouse, undreamt-of business opportunities for industry and economy, more services for rural regions. Patients who no longer have to travel hundreds of miles to see a specialist, students with online access to every lecturer in the country.
But the brave new world of data has its price - originally 20 billion euros. That is how much the Labor Government at the time wanted to cost a fiber optic network for all of Australia in 2009. The construction began. But then there was a change of power in Canberra. The conservatives didn't want anything from super-fast fiber optics to every front door. You rely on Telekom's old copper network. "We are currently throwing the billions that the raw materials boom has brought us out of the window," complains Scott Ludlam, who as communications spokesman for the Greens followed the NBN debacle. Instead of the promised Rolls Royce on the high-speed information highway, the Australian taxpayer would only get a rickety pick-up truck.
“The fiber optic network should be Australia's future. Instead, the national broadband network is now a patchwork of copper, fiber, satellite and wireless connections. Australia is getting a telecommunications system that is slower, more expensive and ready later than the originally planned fiber optic network . What a stroke of genius. "
The rollout of the NBN network is lagging behind schedule. The costs have exploded from 20 to 37 billion euros - and they are still increasing. Scott Ludlam fears that Australia - despite 26 years of uninterrupted growth - could literally lose touch internationally.
"Our Prime Minister likes to talk about agility and innovation - about the fact that our economy has to become more diverse and no longer dependent on the export of huge amounts of dwindling raw materials. For this fundamental change we need the most modern telecommunications of world format. But what do we get? -Network that will be obsolete on the day of completion. "
"Infrastructure" is a sensitive issue in Australia. Too often, major projects are financed with taxpayers' money and then privatized for political reasons. The export port in Darwin in the far north, Australia's gateway to Asia, is leased to China. Sydney's airport has been sold to an investment bank. Toll roads and Australian Telecom were privatized. The consequences are always the same: higher costs for users, poorer service on the part of the operator. Nowhere is that more evident than in the energy sector.
Energy problems could paralyze the economy
February 2017. Adelaide is once again groping in the dark. For the second time in just four months, lights went out across the state. The South Australian electricity grid, half powered by alternative energy, had collapsed. The damage to industry and retail ran into hundreds of millions of Australian dollars. If blackouts continue in the future, the independent Senator Nick Xenophon sees it as black - not only for the business location South Australia.
"There are thousands of small and large businesses that can hardly afford the constant price increases for energy. Especially if the electricity supply is not secure. If we do not solve our energy problems everywhere in the country, Australia's economy will experience a recession and tens of thousands of jobs will be lost within a year. "
Australia's energy crisis is homemade. More and more dirty, unprofitable coal-fired power plants, which cover over 70 percent of the domestic energy needs, are being closed. Most of the huge gas reserves are exported. "Our government is like the captain of a chugging ship who has dozed off at the wheel," says financial analyst Khobad Bhavnagry. And then there is the never-ending political hiccup about what and how much Australia should do specifically to combat climate change.
"We have ten years of political failure in the energy sector behind us. First there was emissions trading, then it was abolished again and the target value of 20 percent for renewable energies was constantly revised downwards. Three years ago investments in large wind or solar plants fell by 88 Percent - practically zero. "
Rested on your own laurels for too long
Supply bottlenecks and rising costs: Australia's raw materials industry in particular is now looking for alternatives. Steel companies want to cut themselves off from the conventional electricity market with a mix of hydropower, wind and solar energy. Even the Australian Telecom is increasingly investing in solar parks. Australia's top scientist wants the government to rethink. In the year 2030, according to Alan Finkel, more than 40 percent of the energy supply should be generated by renewable alternatives. "The industry won't wait that long," believes financial analyst Kobad Bhavnagry, because after 26 years of uninterrupted growth, nobody wants the lights of Australia's economy to go out.
Supply bottlenecks and rising costs: Australia's raw materials industry in particular is now looking for alternatives. (picture alliance / dpa / Hinrich Bäsemann)
"Australia's parties should finally pursue a solid energy policy and stop ideological warfare. Then this country could have one of the cheapest energy prices in the world."
There is a lot of talk of "could" or "should". Due to the unbroken raw material boom, Australia has rested on its own laurels for too long. The country's infrastructure was not adapted to the growing population, and budget surpluses were given back to the electorate rather than invested in suburban trains, schools or hospitals. "Political mistakes, the correction of which could sooner or later drive us into recession," speculates the economist Matthew Hassan. Now it is up to the government. Because even after 26 years of boom, the Australian economy cannot run on autopilot forever.
"We cannot just continue to rely on the mining or real estate market. Consumers and industry have become cautious. Nobody seems to know what Australia's economic growth will guarantee in the future and beyond this year."
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