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Julia Gillard vs Kim Jong-il

  • 29 July 2011

Australia is just like North Korea. Except exactly the opposite.

Australia has the world's most stable economy, the most promising future and the government most lauded by outside observers.

Yet a significant proportion of the population hates the current administration with a passion and is scathing of its economic management. Hostile newspapers are backing calls for an early election. Even its most ardent supporters are pessimistic about its re-election chances.

North Korea is a mirror image. It has one of the lowest income levels in the world, in negative growth, and has a controlled economy that no-one believes will ever feed and clothe its population. Yet the people of North Korea admire their glorious leader and his visionary ministers.

How can this be? The simple answer is News Corporation. But it is a bit more complicated than that. A way to a more balanced national psyche in both nations may, however, actually be quite simple.

Outside observers look at Australia's economic management with awe. No other western country has Australia's combination of high and stable employment, low inflation, steady economic growth, low taxation, moderate interest rates, low debt, efficient delivery of medical and welfare services and effective superannuation.

Few other countries have the assured future of mineral trade, international tourism, international education, sheep and cattle exports (when the industry resolves its current problems) plus wheat and wool, and the chance to lead the world in green technologies.

Australia alone among western economies averted disaster when the global financial crisis hit in 2008. Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote that the Rudd Government 'put in place one of the best-designed Keynesian stimulus packages of any country in the world ... Australia had the shortest and shallowest of recessions of the advanced industrial countries.'

'For an American,' the Columbia University professor added, 'there is a certain amusement in Australian worries about the deficit and debt: their deficit as a percentage of GDP is less than half that of the US; their gross national debt is less than a third.'

So why do Australians want to eject the world's best economic managers, while the North Koreans worship and adore their hapless regime?

Consider recent headlines from the one national daily newspaper, Korean News:

Kim Jong Il's Great Feats Praised AbroadKim Jong Il Inspects KPA Unit CommandWorthwhile Life under Care of Great LeaderKim Jong Il's Work Carried in Bangladeshi NewspaperKim Jong Il's Visit to China Hailed by Indonesian Organization.

Compare these with the headlines from Australia's