By most metrics, Australia has progressed in the past decade but significant social, economic and environmental issues remain.
ABS statistics released today indicate that health, education levels, and disposable income had improved across Australia. In the 10 years since 2001, life expectancy rose from 77 to 79.7 for men, and 82.4 to 84.2 for women, while Australia’s per person net disposable income grew from $40,600 to $51,800.
But there are also a few worrying statistics in ABS’ Measures of Australia’s Progress.
Notably for the Australian business community, the Australian economy has become less resilient since 2002, with employment and CPI growth heavily affected by global economic downturns and natural disasters.
While more people are getting educated or “employed in a skilled occupation”, the ABS notes that employment opportunities have not changed greatly and business opportunities have in fact regressed, with fewer new businesses established in 2011-12 than in 2003-04.
Nine in 20 of all Australians aged 15 years and up said they felt “rushed or pressed for time often or always” in 2006, up from only 35% in 1997, with the ABS concluding that the availability of time and opportunity had regressed over the decade, while the quality of social relationships stagnated.
Environmental management also suffered, with net greenhouse gas emissions up in the 10 years to 2011 and Australia’s stores of natural resources per capita falling about 3.5% throughout the mining boom.
And innovation – “an important part of enhancing living standards” – regressed, with fewer businesses that were deemed “innovation-active” or that had increased their range of goods and services in 2010-11 than in 2005-06.
Australian entrepreneurs have bemoaned a lack of public and private sector support to bring academic ideas to the market or support new businesses for years.
“Through innovation, improvements to productivity and problems of economic, social and environmental nature can be further understood and solved,” the ABS notes.
“Innovation for change is important for all of society as it faces future challenges and creates opportunities.
“Innovation was considered to be important to private enterprise but its benefits also flow on to affect the community more generally.
“An innovative business environment sees new or improved products brought to the market and available to potential consumers.”
There’s more in the ABS’ report.
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