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The stories Australians won't read

By Alan Austin - posted Friday, 14 June 2013


Australia is not just a success story. It is an anthology of success stories. Ascendancy in so many areas – all at the same time.

Europeans wish they had these narratives. They would dance in the streets. (Actually, Europeans still dance in the streets, despite everything.) As for Americans and Canadians, they would lap up every word.

But here's the thing. In Australia these stories are seldom, if ever, told. Not a hint from a Hartcher, not a mention from a Mitchell, not a suggestion from a Sales and not a clue from a Crabb.

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Historians will ponder and explore these 15 accomplishments with wonder and delight.

1. The Government of Michael Joseph Savage in New Zealand (1935-40) was recently eclipsed by the Government of Julia Eileen Gillard in Australia for the lowest rate of ministerial sackings due to incompetence or corruption in the Westminster world. Since 1820 anyway. What led to this? Minority government? What else do Michael Joseph and Julia Eileen have in common?

2. Why is Australia now being urged to lead the free world? Australia has been voted to chair the Pacific Island Forum. Plus next year's G20 group of the world's 20 major economies. That's on top of a seat on the UN Security Council. Everyone wants to sit next to Australia.

3. Why was Prime Minister Gillard given that standing ovation after addressing the US Congress? Traditionally that honour is reserved for deputy sheriffs who follow Uncle Sam into battle. How has this government managed to strengthen the alliance without supporting a single invasion? What singular advantage has Australia thereby gained?

4. What precisely transformed relations with Indonesia? Australia is no longer the target for embassy killings, nightclub bombings, presidential invective and diplomatic insults. Who was the man who accomplished this? Or was it a woman?

5. How has Australia dealt with the wanton cruelty inflicted upon live sheep and cattle exported to Asia and the Middle East? With what outcomes? And why are bulls being tortured in television reports always named Billy or Bobby and not Brutus or Bozo?

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6. Australia now ranks higher than ever before on the economic freedom index published by Washington's Heritage Foundation. [Mission: "to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense."] Australia's score is now the highest in the 34-nation OECD. A Labor government? Holy handguns! How did this happen?

7. Australia is one of four countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to have unemployment below 5.5% and job participation above 75%. Which are the others? What else distinguishes them?

8. Australia is one of only three nations in the OECD and G20 economies with interest rates in the optimum range between 1.75% and 4.75%. Only Australia has maintained this through the global financial crisis. How? What can Australia do now that was never possible before?

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About the Author

Alan Austin is an Australian freelance journalist currently based in Nīmes 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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