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What's Australia's economic secret?

Despite a recession dramatically affecting some of the biggest and most robust economies in the world, Australia has managed to have an economic improvement. In the fourth quarter, not only did the GDP creep up 0.4 percent while others stalled or fell, but stocks rose and the value of the Australian dollar increased to 82.40 U.S. cents, the highest it's been in several months, thanks to generous government cash handouts intended to stimulate spending. 

Craig James, the chief equities economist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia explained:

"Rumors of the death of the Australian economy have been highly exaggerated... Much of the credit for Australia's resilience must be given to the swift actions of the Reserve Bank and government in stimulating our economy."

So even though China is on the verge of buying out a huge portion of the country's natural resources, and its soldiers are the world's pickiest eaters, Australia does seem to be doing something right.

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Aussies can't fight Taliban on Dutch food

Australian troops on the front lines in Afghanistan have seen their fair share of the horrors of war. But if there's one thing they won't put up with, it's European cuisine:

Troops [in the Oruzgan province] had passed on complaints about the "lousy" food, Senator Johnson says, to both Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon on recent visits.

Food is mainly supplied by the Dutch, which commands the provincial reconstruction taskforce in the province.

Australian Defence Force chief Angus Houston defended the soldiers' diet.

"Our soldiers all the way through have had the required amount of calories and the food has been of a very high standard," he said.

"I think the issue is, it's not Aussie food, it's European food and it's pre-prepared.

Worse, getting a taste of home seems to be a status symbol in the Aussie army: 

A major issue seems to be that while general troops are taking their supplies from the Dutch, their colleagues in the elite special forces have their own cooks dishing up the grub.

"Essentially, special forces have been eating Aussie food," Air Chief Marshal Houston said.

Top brass insist that the soldiers are getting good food, but "in total, 10 cooks will eventually be deployed to vary the diet of the soldiers." Whether they will be followed by an elite "Grandma's pies" batallion is at this point unconfirmed. 

AWAD AWAD/AFP/Getty Images