"Australians have never had it so good!"
Words along these lines were spoken by the then Prime Minister, John Howard, in Parliament in 2006 and he copped a bagging for his honesty. We now have proof that what John Howard said at that time is even truer today. But will any Federal pollie be brave enough to repeat them? Very unlikely.
A recent study by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling at the University of Canberra and AMP, discussed by Adele Horin in hercolumn in the Sydney Moring Herald (02/05/2012), explains that almost all income groups are better off in real terms in their weekly incomes than in 2003, some by more than $300 a week.
So why do we continuously hear complaints and whingeing from so many sectors in the community, fed by a media that loves to try to curry favour with ‘the battlers’, that rising prices and other impacts are hurting family budgets and making life tough?
Basically, Australians as a whole have not suffered any real pain in economic terms for more than 20 years. The last recession that Australia experienced ended in 1991. Since that time, the country has enjoyed continuous economic growth that has been distributed to almost all sectors of our population better than ever before.
And much better than most Western economies with whom we compare.
Now, before I get attacked by some sections of the community, I will admit that there continue to be people in our country who are not enjoying positive economic growth. There are still a couple of hundred thousand long-term unemployed living off an appallingly low government allowance. Further, people with significant disabilities, and those who care for them, do not in general enjoy a good quality of life compared to the rest of Australian society. For many Indigenous Australians living in rural and remote parts of the country, the economic benefits of 20 years of growth are yet to ‘trickle down’ to their communities.
For the majority of Australia’s 23 million people, they have more money to spend than ever before. Our unemployment is at a very low rate, housing interest rates are the lowest for years, many of the ‘luxury’ items that many aspire to own are now within the reach of a majority of families.
Because we have not suffered any significant economic pain, most Australians have no idea what life can be like when a recession hits. They cannot remember a time when we had double-digit unemployment, inflation and interest rates. They don’t know what it is like to really struggle to pay for rent, food and clothing, and to live without a computer and an iPad, a mobile phone, three plasma TVs and two cars in the garage.
Despite significant increases over the past five years, Australia still enjoys some of the lowest domestic electricity and petrol prices in the world.
Our standard of living and quality of life has been independently assessed as the highest in the world.
We have low crime rates, good quality housing stock, good community services, an excellent education system and a free, open democratic society that respects and protects the rights of its citizens.
It takes a lot less of a person’s annual income to buy many luxury goods, to travel internationally, to buy a car. More Australians are investors and own shares than ever before.
If you think you are doing it tough, go and talk to a Spaniard, where unemployment is around 25 percent of the working population. The country has been basically in recession for four years.
So, stop complaining and get out there and enjoy your life and the myriad of opportunities available.
You have NEVER had it so good.
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