News / Economy

As China Boom Fades, Economy Dominates Australia Election

Opposition leader Tony Abbott (R) listens to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd during the People's Forum in Sydney, Aug. 28, 2013.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott (R) listens to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd during the People's Forum in Sydney, Aug. 28, 2013.
Phil Mercer
Australians vote in a federal election on Sept. 7 to determine the members of parliament.  Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will attempt to win a third term for the incumbent Labor government against the opposition coalition led by Tony Abbott of the Liberal Party of Australia.

The state of the economy has become the key issue for voters. A decade-long mining boom fueled by demand from China is diminishing, and unemployment is creeping upwards.  As campaigning approaches its final week, both major parties are trying to convince voters they can guarantee future prosperity. 

Australia was fortunate to dodge the worst of the global financial crisis thanks to rich reserves of iron ore and coal.  But as China’s once-ravenous appetite for resources weakens, Australia’s healthy economic glow is beginning to fade.

Candidates' platforms

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd argues the country is at a crossroads, and must quickly adapt to life after its minerals bonanza.

"When I was first elected leader of the opposition, I argued long and hard that Australia had to prepare for the day when the mining boom would be over. The truth is in 2013 the China resources boom is over.  Right now we find ourselves at a crossover point for our national economy,” he said. 

In this election year, the conservative opposition says the Prime Minister will lead Australia’s economy astray through debt and mismanagement.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says his coalition can fix the economy.

“Under a Coalition government we will build a stronger economy, we will abolish unnecessary taxes, we will get the budget back into the black.  We will be a consultative, collegial government,” he said.

The Labor government, though, is hoping for economic salvation though a resurgence in manufacturing, agriculture, the building industry and tourism.

Unemployment here is low by global standards, but is at a four-year high at almost six percent.

Warren Hogan, chief economist at ANZ bank, says the jobless rate will continue to rise.

“The transition to the non-mining recovery is nowhere to be seen at this stage," he said. "There [are] hints of it, but it’s certainly not showing up in the contemporary data and hence the unemployment rate is likely to drift higher for the second half of this year.”

Mining boom ending

In some circles, there is a distinct sense of gloom about the future health of the economy as China’s demand for Australia’s resources weakens.

Former Reserve Bank board member Bob Gregory believes the end of the mining boom in Australia will be painful.

“If you think that we have avoided all the big shocks that Europe has, and in some sense our ability to avoid that is weakening, then it could be a substantial shock. For example, the mining investment doesn’t stop tomorrow, [it] will on for three or four years, but it is clearly running down and as it runs down it will be laying off workers.  There is a good chance - or a chance - that it will be a substantial shock,” said Gregory.

In these tougher times, having a long list of qualifications is no guarantee of employment.  Sitting at a cafe in Sydney, a man who identified himself only as Stuart recounted his difficulty finding a job.  He says despite holding a college degree and an ability to speak several languages, he has been jobless for more than two years.

“No, at the moment I am not working," he said. "I have got a bachelor in fine arts and I have got a diploma in graphic arts, so I cannot get a job. It is very depressing.  I mean, you can come here and have a coffee, then what?  You cannot sit eight hours here. When you go home it is the same situation; you are not working, your wife is not working.  So, it is a bit tight, pretty tight for all of us, basically.”  

Economists warn that Australia, which has been blessed by rich natural resources, is running out of time to re-ignite sluggish industries as the mining boom slows more rapidly than expected.  The election on Sept 7 is likely to hinge on which major party can convince voters that they can manage this economic transition the best.

You May Like

US Gives Malaysia Questionable Upgrade in Human Trafficking Ranks

Malaysia’s upgrade seen as removing barrier to country’s participation in the US-led 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Turkey, US Try to Establish Buffer Despite Differences

Coalition airstrikes in proposed zone would aim to drive out Islamic extremists, allowing targeted area to come under sway of anti-Assad rebels More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9043
JPY
USD
123.19
GBP
USD
0.6445
CAD
USD
1.3030
INR
USD
64.170

Rates may not be current.