Rock on a roll
Mineral rush 01: New Caledonia
It is not all economic gloom in the French Republic – boom time has come to New Caledonia. The sun-kissed Pacific island, which achieved partial autonomy from France in 1988, is profiting from an increasingly stable political system and exploitation of one of the world’s largest nickel reserves.
According to L’Institut de la Statistique de la Nouvelle Calédonie, roughly 14,000 French people moved to Le Caillou (The Rock), as the island is known, between 2000 and 2004, swelling a population of around 225,000. A local government official says another 7,500 French people arrived in 2006.
The new arrivals are not always welcome. New Caledonia is scheduled to hold a referendum on full independence from France between 2014 and 2018. At the moment only those who have lived on the island for at least 20 years will be able to vote. But the native Melanesian population, largely in favour of independence, is suspicious that this might be changed to include French newcomers.
Nouvelle riches: French territories and their valuable spoils
- French Polynesia: black Tahitian pearls
- French Southern and Antarctic Lands: Patagonian toothfish
- Mayotte: ylang-ylang (perfume extract)
- Wallis and Futuna: timber for plywood
- Saint Barthélemy: lotions and body tonics, and high-spending New Yorkers
Back to school — 06
Home or away?
Australia is worried that the flow of Asian students to its universities may soon turn into a trickle as students increasingly find they can get the higher education they need at home. Last year, the number of international students enrolling in Australian universities increased by only 4.8 per cent compared to 17.7 per cent five years ago.
China’s increased wealth and ageing population are cited as factors, so students have more options for destinations.
Foreign students in Australian higher education
Other: 46,048 (32%)
China: 37,803 (25%)
India: 22,154 (15%)
Malaysia: 14,359 (9%)
Hong Kong: 7,699 (5%)
Indonesia: 6,756 (4%)
Republic of Korea: 5,078 (3%)
Thailand: 3,786 (2%)
Japan: 2,697 (2%)
USA: 2,455 (2%)
Brazil: 422 (1%)
Mineral rush 02: Perth
The mineral boom in Western Australia continues apace – one in five people in the state now works in mining or associated industries. Nowhere is this more evident than in the skies, with Perth’s international airport bringing forward its AU$1bn (€608m) expansion plans by a decade due to a jump in passenger numbers. At the same time, greater demand for regional flights – particularly ferrying workers to diamond and iron ore mines – means this sector is flourishing, despite stormy weather for the global aviation industry.
Regional carrier Skywest Airlines recently signed a major deal with miner Rio Tinto to operate at least 15 weekly return services between Perth and mines in the remote Pilbara region. “Given the remoteness of most of the mine sites, charter services are a growing part of the market,” says Skywest chief executive Paul Daff. “Most mines have their own airfield and airport infrastructure,” he adds.
Economic forecaster Access Economics predicts WA will have Australia’s fastest growing economy in the next year, with growth of 6 per cent.
In a flap
Fruit bats get a lot of column inches in the Australian media. The latest tale involves Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens’ bid to move on 20,000 of the critters. Solution: a giant, inflatable pop-up ghost to scare them away. Next step? Perhaps following Melbourne’s solution: it culled its colonies.
Quite a claim
Australia’s government is calling on low-income families to keep their receipts for everything from laptops to pencils. From this summer, 1.3 million families can claim back expenses of up to €230 for every primary school child and €460 for every secondary school child.