By Bruce Stokes, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Bruce Stokes is the director of global economic attitudes for the Pew Research Center. The views expressed are his own.
With the September general election rapidly approaching, domestic polls show the government of Prime Minister Julia Gillard trailing the opposition by a growing margin, despite the fact that Australians are among the most satisfied publics in the world, according to a new Pew Research Center survey of economic sentiment in 39 countries.
A poll in The Australian newspaper earlier this month showed the opposition coalition with a 16-point lead over Gillard’s Labor Party, with regional polls suggesting heavy losses for the ruling party.
And yet, after a generation without a recession, Australians are happier with the state of their economy and their personal finances than most people in advanced, emerging or developing economies. They have relatively high hopes for Australia’s and their own economic futures. And they are among the least worried about inequality and unemployment.
"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
Fareed speaks with former Australian Prime Minister John Howard about his country’s experience with gun control. To see this or other interviews, download the show at iTunes
What I'm struck by in the debate in the United States is that it takes on a left-right coloration, whereas in the rest of the world, generally speaking, it's conservatives who are in favor of being tough on guns, if you know what I mean. They tend to be the kind of policies that law enforcement officials usually support. You’re a very staunch conservative. You were a 100 percent supporter of George Bush during the Iraq War. You’ve always been a tough guy. Do you find it odd to find yourself on the “left side” of the debate?
This is not a conservative-liberal issues or a left-right issue. We’ve always seen it as being a question of public safety. And, on this issue, our experience was that we did have gains in public safety. We did have great gains in reduction of mass murder through the ban that we produced. Now, I know the history of gun ownership in the United States. I respect it. America has a Bill of Rights, Australia does not. The courts in Australia do not have the same capacity to decide these issues as they do in the United States.
So I acknowledge all of the differences. And, clearly, it is a debate that has to go on in the United States, without people from the outside giving any lectures. And I'm not doing that. I’m simply explaining what we did, what our feelings and emotions were. And there was enormous public support, especially in urban areas, for what we did 17 years ago. There was a lot of resistance inside sections of my own political base. But with the experience of 17 years, even the most cynical skeptical person would acknowledge that we have made a big difference with that prohibition.
Watch the latest GPS special ‘Global Lessons: Putting America to Work,’ this Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.
By Paul Steffens, Special to CNN
Editors Note: Professor Paul Steffens is deputy director of the Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research, QUT Business School, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. The views expressed are his own.
In times of economic turmoil, new firm creation is often thought to act as an important driver of innovation and jobs. And recently released data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) indicates that Australia is emerging as the leading developed nation in terms of entrepreneurship.
According to the latest GEM figures, with 10.5 percent of adults engaged in starting a new business, Australia sits second amongst developed nations. The United States, long seen as the bastion of free enterprise, continues to do many things right. In fact, at 12.3 percent the U.S. has the highest overall level of entrepreneurship per capita. Yet recent years have seen a dip in alternative employment opportunities in the U.S., meaning that a much larger number of new businesses are borne out of necessity. Although recovering, opportunity driven new ventures that fuel the economy declined substantially with the global economic slowdown. By comparison, Australia has far fewer necessity driven entrepreneurs.
By Fareed Zakaria, CNN
Come with me now on a long journey to a far off island nation about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand - Samoa. Its lush volcanic valleys make it a mostly agricultural nation; it has no military whatsoever; and it shouldn't be confused with its neighbor, American Samoa. Now, if you're tempted to visit, do not plan a celebration there on December 30th. Why? Because that day will simply not exist there. The calendar will jump from the 29th of December to the 31st. What in the world?
It's actually a smart economic decision. You see, Samoa is just 20 miles away from the International Dateline. As the name suggests, it's an imaginary longitude that marks a change in date when we fly, sail or steam over it. That line was created more than a century ago, when it was decided Samoa would be 11 hours behind Greenwich Meantime outside of London; it's three hours behind Pacific Time in Los Angeles.
The theory went that being on a similar time zone to the Americas would benefit trade and commerce for Samoa - but the times, quite literally, are changing. Samoa now does most of its business with its neighbors. FULL POST
President Obama is focused on East Asia and the Pacific this week. After attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Hawaii last weekend, Obama traveled to Australia where, on Thursday, he addressed the parliament. His message: "In the Asia Pacific in the 21st century, the United States of America is all in."
Later that day, President Obama traveled to the city of Darwin along the northern coast, where the U.S. announced it will station 2,500 Marines. The summit and travel, which also include a stop in Indonesia, are seen as the U.S. shifting attention to the Pacific - and to a rising China - as troops withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan. Here are some of the international responses to what Secretary of State Clinton recently dubbed "America's Pacific Century." FULL POST
Editor's Note: Raoul Heinrichs is Sir Arthur Tange Scholar at the Strategic and Defense Studies Centre, ANU, an editor at the Lowy Institute for International Policy, and Deputy Editor of Pnyx. This is an extended version of an article published by the Lowy Interpreter. This piece is reprinted with the permission of The Diplomat.
By Raoul Heinrichs, The Diplomat
U.S. President Barack Obama’s sheen may have worn off somewhat in the United States, but not in Australia. Yet amid the handshaking and backslapping, the photo opportunities and exultations of shared values, interests and history, it’s easy to overlook the fact that Obama’s trip “down under” is driven by cold strategic logic: to sell Australians on accepting a greater burden on behalf of their alliance with the United States.
That process has begun with a major enhancement of military cooperation between the two countries, to be concentrated in Australia’s North West. The arrangement grants the U.S. military greater access to Australian bases, particularly airfields, as well as providing for more extensive training, ship visits and exercises, and the forward deployment of a small detachment of U.S. Marines. It also covers the prepositioning of materiel – fuel, ammunition and spare parts – creating the foundations of a latent staging point for the U.S. military in the Indian Ocean. FULL POST