Economic Freedom in Australia

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August 2021

With many businesses and individuals suffering financial hardships due to COVID-19 restrictions, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we are living in the most prosperous time in human history. Wealth, health, and education are on the rise worldwide, due largely to the advance of economic freedom. Economic freedom is a fundamental human right: each individual should have the freedom to control his or her own property and labour. In economically free societies, individuals may work, produce, consume, and invest as they choose. In economically free societies, governments allow labour, capital, and goods to move freely; they do not coerce or constrain business unnecessarily. And when societies guarantee economic freedom, we see greater prosperity, healthier individuals, cleaner environments, human development, democracy, and poverty eradication.


The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom has recently ranked Australia third in the world for economic freedom, behind Singapore and New Zealand. Australia’s economic freedom score is 82.4, a decrease of 0.2 points from last year, primarily due to government spending. Australia has been a leader in economic freedom ever since the inception of the Index in 1995, and the economy has been in the highest (free) category for the past 15 years. Australia’s scores on the three rule-of-law indicators (property rights, judicial effectiveness, and government integrity) are among the highest in the world. The Index cites improvements in access to credit, but also recognises that property registration has become more time-consuming and expensive. It also points out that immigration, traditionally an important source of skilled labor, has largely been shut down because of COVID-19. A rise in inflation in 2020 was driven in part by higher food prices, reflecting the tail end of supply shortages caused by the drought and destruction of crops as a result of bushfires in late 2019 and early 2020.


Although more remains to be done, especially with regards to streamlining regulation and cutting red tape, as outlined in our recent , it is useful to be reminded that on a global scale Australia is, to use the Olympic analogy, on the podium.


I’m also pleased to include in this month’s newsletter a round-up of the AmCham committees who are working hard behind the scenes to make sure AmCham is represented when policies are being considered, new laws tabled, and exciting opportunities floated. If you would like to nominate someone to join a committee, please contact the .


Please to read the 2nd Quarter 2021 Committee Report.


Yours sincerely,

April Palmerlee, Chief Executive Officer

American Chamber of Commerce in Australia


I’m delighted to welcome these new members and here are links to their websites:

Member Spotlight

Khoa Dao

President, Australia | ConocoPhillips


Khoa Dao joined ConocoPhillips in 1991 as an engineer. With 30 years of oil and gas experience, Khoa has held leadership roles in engineering, operations, commercial and business development within ConocoPhillips’ Midstream, Upstream and Global Power divisions.


In 2001, Khoa was appointed as manager, Business Development & Government Affairs in Vietnam, where he helped establish ConocoPhillips as a major producer in the country. In 2004, he transferred to Indonesia as asset manager, Onshore Corridor Block, to lead the development of the company’s onshore gas assets. He then became asset manager, Offshore Block B in 2008.



Most rewarding part about your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is that I get to work with many talented, intelligent and committed people who always look to do the right thing. It is richly rewarding to be able to help others grow and progress as business and community leaders.


I also get a lot of satisfaction working in an industry that is essential to supplying energy to the world and leading the way to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is an exciting time to be in our industry, and we recognise the huge responsibility and opportunity we have ahead. At ConocoPhillips, we rely on technology, innovation and our people to solve complex problems to deliver energy to our customers and do it in a way that minimises our carbon footprint.


Personal motto that helps you power through obstacles?

‘Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today’. Our industry moves at a fast pace. News, data and markets move even faster. I try to create a sense of urgency, push decision-making to the right levels in the organisation, and find fit-for-purpose solutions so that we can act decisively and quickly.


The biggest risk you took?

I have had a number of opportunities to work in many different countries with ConocoPhillips. With each move, I am jumping into a new role and my family is getting adjusted to new schools, friends and communities. We always weigh the pros and cons, and on a few occasions second-guess ourselves. We’ve had the opportunity to live in great locations, experienced unique local cultures and made lifelong friends. Brisbane has been an exceptional location so far.


What book are you reading now?

I don’t get to read as many books as I would like, but I managed to read a few books during quarantine when I arrived in Australia. The New Map by Daniel Yergin is a great read. As part of the oil and gas industry, I appreciate the role energy plays in the global economy, geopolitics and climate change. If you liked his earlier book, The Prize, you will enjoy The New Map. It provides the history and context for what we see unfolding today as nations compete for power with energy at the core of their policies.


What is the first holiday destination you are looking to visit once we can safely travel again?

My son and I recently learned to surf so we have travelled to both the Sunshine and Gold Coasts to find some beginner waves. Since we’re new to Australia, we are looking forward to exploring places like Fraser Island, Kakadu National Park, The Great Barrier Reef, and Tasmania.

Company Spotlight

AmCham Premium Member Brickworks Expands Direct Distribution Network with the Acquisition of the Largest Independent Brick Distributor in the United States


Brickworks, Australia’s largest brick manufacturer, earlier this month announced that it has entered into a binding agreement to acquire certain assets of Southfield Corporation, including Illinois Brick Company (IBC) for AU$68.1 million.


The acquisition will heighten the already substantial turnover from Brickworks in the United States by 40 percent and will become the largest brick distributer in the country. This strategic move will support the plans Brickworks have to grow in North America.


Illinois Brick Company is the largest independently owned and operated brick distributor in the United States with a footprint across outlets in Illinois and Indiana. Brickworks Managing Director Lindsay Partridge said “Illinois and Indiana are two major states within our key target market in the Midwest, and both have a strong heritage of brick construction. We currently lack a direct distribution presence in these states and as such this acquisition is a logical strategic fit. The acquisition will significantly increase the scale of our direct distribution network, increasing our store count from 10 to 27.”


“We have enjoyed a strong relationship with IBC since our entrance into the US market almost three years ago. We know the business well and are pleased to welcome its 225 staff to the Brickworks Group. We look forward to building on the strong position that IBC has established as the number one brick distributor in the region.”


Mr Partridge said the effects of the pandemic across the US operations were hit hard over the past year but is now promising with the vaccine rollout and seeing businesses open up and economic recovery well on its way.


“The outlook for the region is strong, with building activity expected to increase over the next five years, across both residential and non-residential segments. Recently announced government stimulus, including support for state and local infrastructure projects such as schools and universities, is also expected to boost construction activity in the region.”


AmCham Australia congratulates Brickworks on this new endeavour.



Network News

Google, Lendlease and AfterPay chalk up big deals in Australia and Silicon Valley



Some of the companies featured in our with the Bay Area Council have enjoyed particular success recently. Google’s massive city-within-a-city Downtown West project, designed and managed by Lendlease, was approved by the City of San Jose. The development, which covers 80 acres and includes 7.3 million square feet of office space and 4000 housing units, incorporates innovative advances in digital design that Lendlease has championed. And Afterpay, the buy-now-pay-later company used by 86,000 retailers and 15 million customers, has been acquired by Square for $39 billion. We will be featuring other innovative companies in our next research paper, in partnership with KPMG, focusing on AI, biotechnology, digital economy, energy and clean technology, quantum and space. If you have suggestions of companies that should be included, know.


Boeing releases first ever sustainability report



Boeing is committed to protecting, connecting and exploring our world and beyond, safely and sustainably. Sustainability is rooted in Boeing’s values and their stakeholders’ expectations, and it includes a focus on environmental stewardship, social progress and inclusion, and values-based and transparent governance. For the first time in company history, they are providing a comprehensive view of Boeing’s sustainability efforts in this inaugural Sustainability Report.


New ‘how-to’ US e-commerce guide for exporters to the USA

Investment NSW


Calling all NSW businesses exploring opportunities for e-commerce in the USA. A new ‘how-to’ guide has been published by Investment NSW and it’s free to download. Be sure to attend the webinars being held to launch the new guide which will give you an opportunity to ask your e-commerce questions.


As the second largest e-commerce market at US$738 billion in 2020, the US’s online market is nearly 30 times the size of Australia’s. With its advanced e-commerce infrastructure and similarities between our lifestyle and culture, the United States remains one of the most accessible markets for NSW exporters looking to take their business online.


Investment NSW’s USA e-commerce market entry guide will assist businesses to evaluate whether a product or service is a good match for the market (e.g. consumer trends, pricing and regulations), see the available platforms and tools, and learn what actions are required to enter the market.


Let's push through this together – Peloton offers 90 day free trial digital app



Access live classes and thousands more on demand from your phone, tablet, web or TV.

Try running, cycling, strength, yoga and more workouts with no equipment required.


Take training programs and challenges to focus on goals and earn achievements.


How Gina Rinehart ‘saved swimming’: The sports supported by Australia’s richest person yielded the best results


Australia’s success in three of the five new sports at the Olympics – there were gold medals in the BMX freestyle and skateboarding and a bronze in surfing – helped take our medal tally to its highest since Beijing in 2008.


But as Australia digests the week that was and contemplates how to better it, it’s worth pointing out that 11 of the 17 gold medals and one bronze came in disciplines in which the living costs of athletes were not covered by their sporting organisations or government funding, but were paid for by one benefactor alone: the country’s richest person, Gina Rinehart.


Member Spotlight

AmCham Jobs Board


As a member benefit, AmCham members can now advertise vacancies on the AmCham .


To advertise please email the following information to :


Job title, location, link to the job advertisement (your preferred employment agency website or your company website) and the close date for applications.

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