Chapter 4: The Australian Environmental Policy Context
THE AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY Australia is the fourteenth largest industrial economy in the world with a gross domestic product (GDP) in 2000/2001 of some A$670 billion (Commonwealth of Australia, 2002: 2, 18). The Australian population of just over 19 million people is expected to grow by 32 per cent between 1990 and 2020 (Commonwealth of Australia, 2002: 14). The economy is highly dependent on fossil fuels as low-cost fossil fuels are abundant, hydroelectric resources are limited and nuclear power is not utilized (Commonwealth of Australia, 2002: 2). Mining is one of the most important sectors of the Australian economy, representing approximately 9 per cent of GDP and providing about 5 per cent of employment (MMSD Australia, 2002: 41; Hancock and Roarty, 2002: 5; Commonwealth of Australia, 2002). Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal, bauxite, alumina, lead, titanium and zircon and one of the world’s leading exporters of gold, iron ore, aluminium, nickel, zinc and uranium (Centre for International Economics, 1999b). The mining industry accounts for between 15 and 20 per cent of the market share value of the top 300 listed companies on the Australian stock exchange. Given that its economy and export capacity have been built on large non-renewable resource availability, Australian attitudes to global resource conservation have been highly influenced by issues of natural comparative advantage as well as international competitiveness (Vourc’h and Price, 2001: 5). THE AUSTRALIAN POLITICAL STRUCTURE Australia is a federation of six states and two territories. Under the Australian Constitution, the Commonwealth...
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