Australia Is Not Just a Lucky Country

By Julia Gillard

In the past week, there has been a growing understanding among Australians that our economy really is among the best in the world. Independent commentators, international ratings agencies, the International Monetary Fund, OECD, World Bank and the governor of the Reserve Bank are now all talking about how strong our economy is - perhaps stronger than many realize.

Of course, there are still some doomsayers. But as the saying goes, you can choose your own opinion, but you can't choose your own facts.

So these are the facts. Our economy has grown by 4.3 per cent in the past year and created 39,000 jobs in the past month.

In just over four years the euro area economy has shrunk 1.7 per cent. Japan's economy has shrunk 1.7 per cent. The U.S. economy has grown - just - by 1.2 per cent. And the Australian economy has grown 10.3 per cent.

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Here's another fact: Australians have created more than 800 000 new jobs in five years. And another: tax as a percentage of gross domestic product is at long-term lows.

We're delivering a budget surplus in 2012-13, and growing in subsequent years, because we have reined in spending to levels not seen for nearly three decades.

This week in Brisbane, the Deputy Prime Minister and I are bringing together 130 leading Australians, from government, business, unions and the wider community, to discuss Australia's future in the global economy.

We'll discuss the difficult circumstances affecting the world economy and new ideas to address uneven growth at home. We won't shy away from hard questions because we are committed to keeping our economy strong: creating jobs, driving growth and improving productivity.

But we'll start with the facts about how well Australia is doing, because unless we appreciate our own strength, we can't use our strength to build for the future. We'll confront the truth that one of the biggest challenges for parts of our economy is actually created by our overall strength.

The Aussie dollar hasn't been this high for this long since it was floated. The strength of the dollar reflects the economic transformation of Asia and the continued demand for Australian commodities. It also reflects the strength and stability of our economy in these turbulent times. The high dollar is a huge game-changer.

Some of that change is good: businesses that need equipment from overseas can get it more cheaply. Household goods that every family needs cost less. Australians can enjoy the results of our hard work by raveling overseas in numbers our parents and grandparents would have only dreamed about.

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Julia Gillard is prime minister of Australia.

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