Happy Australia Day!The 26th of January marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales, when Governor Arthur Phillip raised the Flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove. Obviously, some members of Australia’s Aboriginal community may not feel like “celebrating" this event in quite the same way. In August 2016, this discontent prompted W.A.’s Fremantle City Council to can its traditional fireworks set down for January 26, deeming them "culturally insensitive”. "For many Aboriginal Australians, it is indeed a day of sadness and dispossession," Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt was quoted as saying. He further said that there was a growing movement that January 26 is becoming a day that is not for all Australians. Fremantle City Council have instead promoted an alternate event called One Day in Fremantle, to be held 2 days later on January 28. But no matter what your views are, I still believe that Australia is one of the greatest places to live, and invest, in the world. That in itself is something worth celebrating, no matter what date it is celebrated. Australia is the planet's sixth largest country after Russia, Canada, China, the USA, and Brazil — but boasts a population of only around 24 million people, putting us at around the 53rd most populated country! And whilst we may be the 13th largest economy by GDP, have the 14th biggest Olympic medal haul per capita, invented Vegemite, the Hills Hoist, and Wi-Fi — and coined the phrases G’day, budgie-smugglers, and bogans — we might still be seen internationally as beer-swilling larrikins with a penchant for throwing a shrimp on the barbie! So let’s take a few moments to reflect on some of the things that prove that Australia punches well above its weight in a whole range of metrics.
GEOGRAPHY AND NATURAL RESOURCESAustralia holds the rare title of being both a country, an island, and a continent. So whilst Australia may have once been considered the “arse-end” of the world, it has been blessed with a number of unique geographic advantages. According to the Geoscience Australian, Australia is: #1 producer in the world of bauxite, ilmenite, iron ore, rutile and zircon. #2 producer in the world of gold, lead, lithium, manganese ore and zinc. #3 producer in the world of uranium (despite holding the highest-known uranium deposits in the world). #4 producer in the world of black coal (and its #1 largest exporter), nickel and silver. #5 producer in the world of cobalt, copper and diamond. According to the Department of Industry, Innovation, and Science, in 2015 — 2016 Australia exported over $150 billion worth of minerals and energy to the world. Due to the abundance of natural resources — and the appetite that China has had for them to fuel their spectacular growth rates — Australia remained relatively unscathed from the Global Financial Crisis. Plus, with most commodity prices appearing to have bottomed out in 2016, we look well placed to take advantage of our natural resources in the years ahead. In fact, in 2016 we saw strong rebounds in oil, natural gas, thermal coal, and iron ore prices. This definitely bodes well for Australia’s terms of trade, but not so good for the Aussie dollar, which is remaining stubbornly high around the USD $0.75 range.
TOURISMIn addition to the abundance of natural reserves, Australia holds a plethora of tourism hotspots. From modern and engaging capital cities to outback adventures, coastal riches, mountains, and even deserts, Australia’s natural landscape holds many unique experiences for overseas and domestic visitors alike. Both domestic and international tourism should increase over the next few years, as we see the Aussie dollar drop into the USD $0.60 — $0.70 range, based on current macroeconomic conditions.
EDUCATIONAustralians are by and large well-educated, having consistently ranked in the world’s Top 10 for maths, reading, and science. In the Times Higher Education world university rankings, Australia still boasts 8 universities in the world’s Top 200. Deloitte Access Economics authored a report called “The Value of International Education to Australia”, which revealed the sector contributes $1 billion more to the economy than previously estimated, coming in around $21 billion annually. International education, like tourism, is already one of our top services exports. It’s been identified as one of five key super-growth sectors with the ability to support our economy as it transitions from being mining dependent over the next decade.
FINANCIALAccording to Credit Suisse’s 2016 Global Wealth Report, Australia ranks #2 in the world behind the Swiss. Not only does Australia have an average wealth of US $375,600, and a median wealth of US $62,815, but it also boasts 3.5% of the world’s wealthiest 1% of individuals — despite being home to just 0.4% of the world’s adult population. The bulk of Australians’ wealth lies in non-financial assets. In fact, 61% of Australians’ wealth is held in their homes, accounting for an average equity position of US $286,900. Also worth noting is that only 11% of Australians have a net worth of less than US $10,000. Credit Suisse also expressed confidence around Australia’s financial outlook, forecasting the wealth of Australians to grow by 34% over the next five years.
SOCIALA recent report commissioned by AMP found that Australia is one of the most multicultural countries in the world, ranking equal 2nd with those pesky Swiss, only behind table leaders Luxembourg. Compared with the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) average of 11%, migrants make up a quarter of Australia's population. The majority of Australia's migrants come from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and China. These migrants don’t just bring cultural and social benefits. What’s especially great for Australia is that most migrants to Australia are also highly educated, with their qualifications tending to match — or even exceed — those born in Australia. With aging a global problem, the fact that Australia has the ability to attract younger, highly skilled, tax-paying immigrants to our shores puts us in a strong position in the years ahead. So this Australia’s day, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, raise your glass and say, “Cheers!” For we believe Australia is truly a lucky country, and we are grateful to be fortunate enough to live and invest here!
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