Australia’s status performance now ranks 9th (+4 ranks relative to SGI 2009).
Sound economic policies and progress in domestic and international security are key factors accounting for these gains.
The shift to a Labor government in 2007 ushered in greater emphasis on social equity and inclusion, with tangible results in education and social policies.
Improved cooperation between federal, state and territory governments has enhanced the quality of Australia’s already robust democracy.
Persistent shortcomings include resources management and environmental protection in particular. The government has yet to introduce a carbon emissions trading scheme.
Australian democracy continues to perform reasonably well (rank 10).
The electoral process and public access to information have benefited from new laws providing more government information free of charge to the public.
Although civil rights enjoy robust protection, controversies over the treatment of Australia’s Indigenous population continue. For many, the government’s official apology in 2008 to the “stolen generation” should be translated into financial compensation for the victims.
Australians continue to enjoy a strong tradition of judicial review and legal certainty but are left somewhat in the dark about appointments in the judicial system. Public procurement systems are somewhat non-transparent.
Despite having slid a rank relative to the SGI 2009, Australia’s economic policies are among the most successful in the OECD.
The Rudd administration benefited considerably from one of the highest growth rates of all OECD countries amid the global downturn in the 2008-09 financial year.
The labor market weathered the crisis much better than other developed countries largely thanks to the booming resource sector. Enterprise-friendly policies have facilitated investment and innovation.
Fiscal stimulus measures introduced after the crisis combined with plunging tax revenues have widened federal and state budget deficits. But comprehensive measures have been undertaken to ensure long-term fiscal sustainability.
At rank 9, Australia’s social policies remain focused on strengthening the nation’s social fabric.
Health care is relatively well-organized. However, aging populations, cost-intensive innovation and friction between public and private actors lead to additional costs, demanding greater efficiency of the health care system. In addition, not everyone enjoys equal access to medical treatment.
Public perception of growing inequality and social exclusion facilitated Labor’s victory in the 2007 federal election and fueled the center-left government’s policies targeting social inclusion and increasing employment opportunities for mothers.
Australia’s integration policies continue to attract skilled immigrants, which helps drive the country’s economic growth.
Relations with neighboring countries are very good. Australian governments have established external security policies in cooperation with regional partners, most notably with several Southeast Asian countries and within the framework of the ANZUS Alliance. A significant proportion of the country’s defense force has been dispatched to UN (and other international) operations.
With regard to domestic threats, in particular terrorism, there is a comparatively low but persistent threat of attacks, which has been demonstrated by several failed plots involving Islamic extremists. However, no grave challenges to internal security transpired during the review period.
Despite gaining two ranks relative to the SGI 2009, Australia’s handling of resources is not sustainable.
With droughts, floods and bush fires becoming more and more severe, combating climate change has become a major item on the national and international agenda. But proposed cap and trade legislation failed to pass, and CO2 emissions per unit of GDP are the highest in the entire OECD.
Research and innovation policies yielded mixed results. The new government initiated plans to increase investment in innovation.