Many Australians are, they are convinced, doing it tough. Surging prices making life difficult when it comes to the weekly shopping. Constantly rising electricity costs make each power bill a hammer blow. No one’s benefiting from the mining boom. The Aussie dollar is killing our manufacturing sector. The sharemarket keeps weighing down our super. On it goes.

Except, it serves to pay attention to what Australians are doing, not what they’re telling pollsters and journalists. This graph is from today’s Australian Bureau of Statistics data on overseas arrivals and departures for the month of May.

It shows that, in trend terms, Australians are taking holidays overseas in their greatest numbers ever. In May, the number of short-term departures by Australians was the second-highest ever recorded in seasonally adjusted terms (second only to April last year) and the highest ever in trend terms.

The Aussie dollar, of course, can be held responsible for much of this surge. But for those of us old enough to remember when overseas holidays were the sort of exotic events that only happened a couple of times in a lifetime for most of us, it’s a telling sign of just how much travel costs have fallen and Australian incomes have risen in recent decades.

It also serves to illustrate — as the European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the People’s Bank of China all cut interest rates out of concerns about the global economy — how much Australia is, in the words of Glenn Dyer today, an outlier in the global economy, enjoying economic conditions and levels of income that are the envy of most other developed countries.

Yet still we continue to whinge about how tough we’re doing it. And our politicians rush to pander to our sense of economic victimhood.

Peter Fray

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