Amend the section headed “Economic crisis already here - with worse to come” to read as follows:
Compared to Greece and many other countries, Australia so far has had an easy run during the global economic crisis. Decades ago, this country's capitalists found a lucrative niche for themselves as low-cost exporters of raw commodities, especially iron ore and coal. Over the past two years, investment and prices in these sectors have largely held up. This is partly because of growing Chinese demand. In response to the global financial crisis, which caused the loss of 20 million jobs in export-oriented manufacturing, the Chinese government embarked on a massive program of public works (high speed inter-city rail, etc). Chinese demand helped Australia's mining industry to continue growing during the global crisis.
But the impact of the mining boom on the broader Australian economy has been mixed. The rising Australian dollar has hurt manufacturing and some other industries. Mining itself is not immune from the crisis. There is no guarantee that Chinese demand will continue to increase. Chinese exports remain vulnerable to the crisis in Europe and America. Other problems such as the rising indebtedness of Chinese local governments and the deflation of the real estate market could also have an impact.
Many Australian and foreign-owned manufacturing companies have closed down or cut back their Australian operations. In many cases they have shifted production to overseas locations. The Australian government (unlike the Chinese government) has done nothing to create alternative jobs, despite the potential that exists in areas like renewable energy.
Already, decades of neoliberalism has made Australia a harsher, crueller, more unequal society. Privatisation, outsourcing, casualisation, restructuring, deregulation, user-pays - all are just terms for shifting wealth from working people to the well-off.
The richest 20% of the population now own 61% of total household wealth, while the poorest 20% own just 1%. Two million people live in poverty, and at least 100,000 are homeless on any given night. Public health care is under-funded, and quality education is increasingly for children whose parents can pay. Pensions and unemployment benefits are far below poverty levels.
Official unemployment is a “low” 5.3%, but at least as many people again who want full-time work can't find it. Millions fall into the categories of “underemployed' and “working poor”.