Shane: Just to finish that digression -
I don't put a lot of faith in the unemployment numbers because they have all sorts of clever ways of disguising the official numbers now. Work-for-the-Dole (WTFD) numbers aren't counted as unemployed any more because they earn an extra $20 per week while they're doing it. That program absorbs a really significant cohort of unemployed which I feel is the real reason why it was bought in by Howard (and set to return in its full form under Abbott). Some WFTD programs are okay; I had a friend who did a TAFE Cert III as a WFTD and it helped him a lot; others are really pointless 'busy-work' like pulling weeds . Also, Johnny Howard started out with a policy of 'making the Disability Pension tougher to get ' but by the end of his reign it went the other way- I think partly because it made the unemployment numbers fall.
Are you sure we have cheap power in this country? I was told it's one of the most expensive because it averages 0.20-0.40c per k/w hour (off-peak/peak) whereas in the USA you can pay as little as 0.05c per k/w hour.
Power, you will find this interesting. But first let me re qualify my statement. I work in the evil aluminium industry so my power price comparisons are usually based on what aluminium smelters pay which is 20year type contracts, pay by the month, take or pay, fixed consumption at >99% load factor. ie you don't get a better customer than this if you own a base load power station.
However the domestic prices even on world scale are heavily influenced by other factors such as fixed costs associated to maintain the wires and poles which tends to lead to lower unit costs, where as some networks pay no fixed price but higher usage rates, govt subsidies and/or price manipulation for political reasons. Additionally in many parts of Australia retail power prices are covering the cost of solar and renewable energy schemes where as base use whole sale customers don't unless they pay for the benefit (usually not).
Working with a former Power Station Manager in 2010, his comments was that the typical Australian wholesale prices paid to the power generators was too low across most of Australia to encourage private investment and hence the required govt investment is usually done at a long-term loss to the state (read subsidy). Some of the newer private generators have price protection. Many a time in Melbourne the spot whole price drops below that for which aluminium smelters are paying. Hence the move by JH to deregulate the industry so whole sale customers like RTA and ALCOA could buy extra power off the grid at the spot price and sell some of their demand to the grid during higher prices to improve their economics. Anglesa Aluminium in UK used to go zero load twice a day with no notice for up to 1hr to help stablise the UK grid during peak. http://www.euaa.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/FINAL-INTERNATIONAL-PRICE-COMPARISON-FOR-PUBLIC-RELEASE-19-MARCH-2012.pdf
As the attachment says, retail prices (up to 2012) have risen against world bench marks in part driven by currency changes, the rest is driven by other factors such as renewable energy costs and in the case of Qld simply infrastructure spending on the poles and wires for which the cost is added to the price of power.
There is also a page comparing states to other countries, note the states with mostly govt owned power generation are roughly the same as Vic.
In summary, the rise in price is not related to privatisation as the govt controls the price anyway and Victoria is roughly the same as NSW.
Unemployment, yes it can be hidden to a degree. But no way no how is 2014 unemployment worse than 1992 and for most Aussies their job prospects are not as bad as they think. Not as good as the boom years, but still good. Yes there are pockets in Australia things are worse off. But overall. Just have to look at key consumer indicators like new car sales.
Look up Trading economics country performance and you will see alot of developed world countries are worse off than Australia.