How Australia rates. I admit to being a bit of a sucker for lists — the best of this, the worst of that. I’m just intrigued to see how, for example, other people rate Australia in the hierarchy of the world’s nations.

And with all the continued talk by Australian business lobbies on the need for more “reform”, (I use the quotes for the word often signifies nothing more than change that the user approves of), the latest list I have come across certainly interests me.

The International Financial Corporation is an arm of the World Bank and among its duties is the annual compilation of an index on the ease with which small and medium sized companies can do business internationally.

8-11-2010 doingbusiness2011

In the latest report rating 183 countries, Australia comes in 10th with our neighbour New Zealand in third place. On only one of the IFC’s criteria was it easier to do business on this side of the Tasman than the other — closing a business down.

8-11-2010 ease of doingbusiness

I wrote about a more cheerful international ranking for Australia at the weekend on the Crikey blog The Stump where I am now posting the kind of items that I used to put on my politicalowl blog.

The United Nations Development Program in the 20th annual version of its report The Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human Development ranks Australia as second only to Norway in having the best quality of life in the world.

A favourite politician. Ann Widdecombe might have retired before this year’s UK elections but the former Conservative Minister of State for Prisons is still one of her nation’s most popular politicians.

She currently has the distinction of being an 8/1 fourth favourite in the betting on who will win the top rated television program Strictly Come Dancing — ahead, might I point out, of the glamorous Pamela Stephenson.

And is it any wonder given a performance of Wild Thing that really must be seen to be believed.

8-11-2010 wildthing

Not that Ann Widdecombe is without a serious side. Earlier this year she hosted a program for Britain’s Channel 4 on the Bible which featured interviews on the Ten Commandments with Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens

8-11-2010 hitchensfrywiddecombe

Perhaps our very own Bronwyn Bishop will have a life after politics afterall!

An early election ploy. It seems that Greek voters are no different to our own — one thing a majority agree on is that they don’t like early elections. So when Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou threatened to call a new national poll only a year after the last one if his socialist party was not supported on Sunday at local government elections, Greeks disgruntled at the economically austere measures he has introduced were presented with something of a dilemma.

The pragmatic solution solution of voters seems to have been to refrain from voting at all. Early counting indicates that, reports Reuters, that some 40 percent of voters did not show up at the polling stations and about 10 percent of those who voted spoiled their papers.

That kind of protest has enabled the Pandandreou party to lead in seven of the 13 local government areas and with only 10% of the vote counted the Prime Minister declared that was good enough for him not to carry out his early election threat.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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