Supporting The Public Sector of Australia
Public spending on education was 4.6 per cent of GDP in 2008.
Responsibility for education lies with the states and education systems vary, with state governments managing schools with funding from the federal government. Each state has its own Department of Education, which oversees the curriculum. There are 11 years of compulsory education starting at the age of five.
Private schools are subdivided into Catholic and independent – they are privately owned but receive government subsidies. Both charge fees, ranging from $1,000 a year to $20,000 upwards. Private schools use the same curriculum as state schools but some offer the International Baccalaureate.
There are 39 universities with more than a million students enrolled, 37 of which are public institutions (2013). The female-male ratio for gross enrolment in tertiary education is 1.40:1 (2010).
The public health scheme in Australia is Medicare. Medicare coexists with a private health system, mainly funded by private health insurance. The federal government sets health care policies which are then put into place by state governments. State-owned private health insurance provider Medibank Private is to be privatised in 2015.
There are 815,070 km of roads, 40 per cent of which are paved.
Australian road design is known for the long, straight roads in rural areas. Rail services link main towns across the country and the total system extends to 9,660 km. The 4,000 km Indian-Pacific line from Sydney to Perth takes three days. The 3,000 km north-south line, linking Adelaide in the south with Alice Springs in the centre and Darwin in the north was completed in 2003. International airports are at Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Darwin, Brisbane, Hobart, Townsville and Cairns.
Roads: The building of new roads has, in the past, been tendered out to private companies, particularly the construction of toll roads, with the building costs being recouped through tolls paid by road users. However, private operators ran into financial difficulties when toll revenues on several new roads were lower than expected, hence the forthcoming A$10 billion project to build a toll road at WestConnex in Sydney is to be financed by money borrowed by the state government.
Rail: Australia’s railways are a mixture of state-owned and private sector-run operations and assets. Urban passenger services are generally government-owned, as they require subsidising and would not generate a profit for the operator. Some rural and long distance routes are privately run, such as services in the south-west of Western Australia, which are leased to Brookfield Rail. The long over-land freight routes in Australia have made rail-hauled freight services appealing to the private sector, with several privately owned companies active in this sector, including the US-headquartered Genesee and Wyoming Australia and UK-based Freightliner.
Ports: In 2013, New South Wales contracted out the operation of the ports of Botany and Kembla on a 99-year lease to a consortium led by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority for A$5.1 billion. Many of the country’s ports are leased out to the private sector, with the revenues raised often used to fund other infrastructure projects