Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Australia

2013

Aid

Aid quality is just as important as aid quantity, so the CDI measures gross aid as a share of GDP adjusted for various quality factors: it subtracts debt service, penalizes “tied” aid that makes recipients spend aid only on donor goods and services, rewards aid to poor but relatively well-governed recipients, and penalizes overloading poor governments with many small projects.

Australia’s aid performance

  • Score: 3.8
  • Rank: 13

Strengths

  • No tied aid (0%; rank: 1)

Weaknesses

  • Small amount of private charitable giving attributable to tax policy (0% of GDP; rank 20) – in 2011 Australia failed to report any charitable giving
  • Small share of aid to poor and better-governed recipients (selectivity rank: 16)
 

Trade

International trade has been a force for economic development for centuries. The CDI measures trade barriers in rich countries against exports from developing countries. It also penalizes costly importation processes and restrictions against purchasing services from foreigners.

Australia’s trade performance

  • Score: 7.1
  • Rank: 2

Strengths

  • Low tariffs on agricultural products (0.4% of the value of imports; rank: 2)
  • No tariffs on rice, wheat, beef and sugar (0% of the value of imports; rank: 1)
  • Low tariffs on other meats (1% of the value of imports; rank: 1)
  • Low tariffs on dairy (4.5% of the value of imports; rank: 2)
Weaknesses
  • High tariffs on apparel (14.2% of the value of imports; rank: 26)
  • High tariffs on textiles (10.1% of the value of imports; rank: 25) 
  • Many days to import a shipping container (7 days; rank: 24)
 

Finance

Rich-country investment in poorer countries can transfer technologies, upgrade management and create jobs. Conversely, policies that permit financial secrecy of companies and banks can facilitate illicit activities and financial flows abroad. The CDI rewards policies that support healthy investment in developing countries and promote transparency in financial transactions at home.

Australia’s finance performance

  • Score: 5.7
  • Rank: 8

Strengths

  • Political risk insurance agency provides wide coverage and screens potential projects for violations of human, labor and environmental rights
  • Active participation and leadership in extractive industries transparency initiatives such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the Kimberley Process on blood diamonds
  • Vigorous prosecution of home-country bribe payers
  • Scores above average in the Financial Secrecy Index for regulations in place to promote transparent financial transactions within its jurisdiction (rank: 7)
 

Migration

The movement of people from poor to rich countries provides unskilled immigrants with jobs, income and knowledge. This increases the flow of money sent home by migrants abroad and the transfer of skills when the migrants return.

Australia’s migration performance

  • Score: 6.9
  • Rank: 6

Strengths

  • Large share of foreign students from developing countries (89%; rank: 3)
  • Large number of immigrants from developing countries entering Australia (rank by share of population: 3)

Weaknesses

  • Bears small share of the burden of refugees during humanitarian crises (rank: 17)

Environment

Rich countries use a disproportionate amount of scarce resources, and poor countries are most vulnerable to global warming and ecological deterioration, so the CDI measures the impact of policies on the global climate, fisheries and biodiversity.

Australia’s environment performance

  • Score: 3.8
  • Rank: 24

Strengths

  • No fishing subsidies (rank: 1)

 

Weaknesses

  • High greenhouse gas emissions rate per capita (72 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent; rank: 26) 
  • Low gas taxes ($0.34 per liter; rank: 25)
  • High tropical timber imports ($20.73 per capita equivalent: rank: 26)
  • Poor compliance with mandatory reporting requirements under multilateral environmental agreements relating to biodiversity (rank: 20)
  • High consumption of ozone-depleting chemicals per capita (rank: 23)
 

Security

Since security is a prerequisite for development, the CDI rewards contributions to internationally sanctioned peacekeeping operations and forcible humanitarian interventions, military protection of global sea lanes, and participation in international security treaties. It also penalizes arms exports to poor and undemocratic governments.

Australia’s security performance

  • Score: 5.0
  • Rank: 14

Strengths

  • Significant personnel contributions to internationally-sanctioned peacekeeping and humanitarian interventions over last decade (rank by share of GDP: 1)
  • Participates in major international security treaties and regimes

Weaknesses

  • Relatively small contribution to the UN Peacekeeping Operations budget (rank by share of GDP: 21)
  • Fails to report arms exports
 

Technology

Rich countries contribute to development through the creation and dissemination of new technologies. The CDI captures this by measuring government support for R&D and penalizing strong intellectual property rights regimes that limit the dissemination of new technologies to poor countries.

Australia’s technology performance

  • Score: 4.7
  • Rank: 16

Strengths

  • Restricts copyrighting of databases
  • Revokes unused patents
  • Will force patent holders to license to meet social needs
  • Provides patent exceptions for research purposes

Weaknesses

  • Low government expenditure on R&D (rank by share of GDP: 23)
  • Allows patents on plant and animal varieties
  • Allows patents on software innovations
  • Imposes strict limitations on anti-circumvention technologies that can defeat encryption of copyrighted digital materials