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Australia’s next treasurer emerges from the shadows

By Alan Austin - posted Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Something of the philosophy of the man who would be Australia’s next Treasurer was revealed last Thursday. A business conference run by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia heard Joe Hockey explain the Coalition’s future plans.

“I am often told by business people how tough it has become to do business in Australia.

They tell me that input costs are high, labour costs are high, regulation is high, the Australian dollar is high, international competition is fierce, and profits are low.”


Evidence offered was the cost of the carbon tax, electricity, gas and labour in Australia – compared with the United States.

So does the Shadow Treasurer want Australia to follow the U.S?

After successfully negotiating the global financial crisis, Australia now outperforms the U.S. on economic growth, income per capita, employment participation, savings, foreign exchange reserves and value of the dollar against other currencies.

Australia has lower levels of unemployment, bankruptcies, deficits as a percentage of GDP and debt to GDP.

Australia has better superannuation, health care, pension levels, interest rates, home ownership, balance of trade, international credit ratings and overall quality of life.

Several of these advances on the U.S. occurred during 2008 and 2009 as Australia, virtually alone in the world, headed off the ravages of recession with bold stimulus packages.

Mr Hockey continues: “I find it hard to believe that other built-in costs such as regulatory costs in the form of red tape and green tape are more onerous in the United States than in Australia.”


Fortunately the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC is here to help. Motto: “Conservative policy research since 1973”.

Its annual survey of economic freedom measures precisely this – how easy it is for capitalists to invest and produce without government interference.

In January, Heritage ranked Australia first in the OECD and third in the world, just behind Singapore and Hong Kong. The U.S. lags at 10th.

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About the Author

Alan Austin is an Australian freelance journalist currently based in Nîmes in the South of France. His special interests are overseas development, Indigenous affairs and the interface between the religious communities and secular government. As a freelance writer, Alan has worked for many media outlets over the years and been published in most Australian newspapers. He worked for eight years with ABC Radio and Television’s religious broadcasts unit and seven years with World Vision. His most recent part-time appointment was with the Uniting Church magazine Crosslight.

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