Australians don’t know how lucky they are

Last June, Australia celebrated its 21st. No, not a birthday or coming of age, but the completion of its 21st consecutive year of economic growth. Yup, you heard right, 21 years. Of growth. 21.

While the rest of the world lurches from crisis to economic crisis, the land of Oz is powering ahead, enjoying an Aussie dollar at a record high, unemployment at near-record lows (5.4%) and basking in more sunshine than the rest of us can dream up. So what does its Labor government do? Attempt suicide.

Yesterday’s move to oust Australia’s Labor prime minister, Julia Gillard, represents the third attempt by Kevin Rudd (and/or his supporters) to return him to the leadership – a man Gillard beat for the prime ministership in 2010. In the past 10 years, the Australian Labor party has installed and dispatched five national leaders while its nemesis, the Liberal party, has tried four different leaders in just six years.

Viewed from Europe, where national governments are planning to bail out their banks by raiding the savings accounts not just of Russian oligarchs but pensioners too, news of yet another political attack against Australia’s leader smacks of a particular strain of antipodean madness. For decades, it is the British who have worn the whingeing Poms label. Now, it’s time for Australians to accept the malcontents’ mantle, because it is they who appear incapable of seeing just how lucky they are.

Complaint has become the national default position, seen in a political class — and a mainstream media — who spend more time slinging mud or knifing each other than debating and analysing national policy. No other advanced economy can come close to Australia’s 21 years of growth. That period, a full generation, saw governments of both political flavours at the helm in Canberra, and is even more impressive when you remember that it spanned the dotcom boom (and bust), the crisis of 1997-1998 (remember that one?) and the global catastrophe that was the Lehman Brothers crash in 2008. Every single time, opposition parties (again of both persuasions) channelled Chicken Little, warning the sky would fall down in Australia. It didn’t. It still hasn’t — via

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