The next Golden State
With a bit of self-belief, Australia could become a model nation
May 26th 2011 | from the print edition
IMAGINE a country of about 25m people, democratic, tolerant, welcoming to immigrants, socially harmonious, politically stable and economically successful; good beaches too. It sounds like California 30 years ago, but it is not: it is Australia today. Yet Australia could become a sort of California—and perhaps a still more successful version of the Golden State.
It already has a successful economy, which unlike California’s has avoided recession since 1991, and a political system that generally serves it well. It is benefiting from a resources bonanza that brings it quantities of money for doing no more than scraping up minerals and shipping them to Asia. It is the most pleasant rich country to live in, reports a survey this week by the OECD. And, since Asia’s appetite for iron ore, coal, natural gas and mutton shows no signs of abating, the bonanza seems set to continue for a while, even if it is downgraded to some lesser form of boom (see article). However, as our special report in this issue makes clear, the country’s economic success owes much less to recent windfalls than to policies applied over the 20 years before 2003. Textbook economics and sound management have truly worked wonders.