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This chapter discusses some of the key geographic shifts in Australia's international economic relations in the second half of the 20th century, particularly the refocusing of investment, trade and migration towards East Asia. It then examines the main explanatory factors and analyses the consequences of the shifts, which have primarily been increased material prosperity for most of Australia's population, a greater openness of the economy and society, and the adoption of multiculturalism. The main variable affecting international economic relations is the exchange rate. In 1972 a screening process was introduced to monitor foreign investment and limit takeover of Australian companies. The FIRB was established in 1975, and the screening process was tightened under successive governments. In 1983 the FIRB rejection rate doubled. Economic liberalisation in Australia and New Zealand was accompanied by deeper trans-Tasman integration through the 1982 CER Agreement.
Economic development has been a focus of much government policy throughout Australia's history. This chapter examines some of the major aspects of public policy in Australia between the late 19th century and the immediate years following World War 2. It focuses on major policy decisions relating to international trade, labour, immigration, competition, rural production and management of the economy during wartime. During the second half of the 19th century, Australia yielded vast wealth from natural resources. There were large discoveries of minerals, most notably those of alluvial gold in Victoria from 1851 onwards, but also copper in South Australia and gold in other colonies, in particular Western Australia towards the end of the century. Customs and excise duties were to become almost the federal government's sole revenue source for the first 10 years of Federation, and a major source in the years leading to World War 2.
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