australia

This is a look at how yours truly sees life both in Australia and our view of the World. It will not be a definitive article, merely observations and news which I feel will improve people’s understanding of what’s happening in Australia politically and how life is lived.

Firstly, a little bio about me. Born and raised in Ireland in an amazing family, I moved to Australia in the middle of the oil crisis in 1974 at age 28. I had a career in IT Change Management which ended when outsourced. However, I’ve had an enjoyable, for the most part, life here with interests in Sailing, Flying and, of course, my darling wife.

Now, about Australia. the first thing to know is that It IS HUGE! You can fit half of the United States into just one State, Western Australia! Yet there are only 23 million people in the entire country, 90% of whom live along the coasts. There are many myths about Australia and the people who populate it. Yes, we have the nastiest snakes, spiders, sharks, jellyfish and even birds who will kill you stone dead in seconds, but you normally don’t find them in the suburbs of our main cities, where most of us live. Yes, there are the Crocodile Dundees out there – somewhere – but you won’t find them in your local bar. The greatest Aussie myth is the concept of ‘mateship’ where your neighbour will drop everything and come to your assistance in a crisis. This may be true in the Outback, but I’ve lived on this street for 9 years and have yet to meet more than a couple of my neighbors.

Enough of that for now. I’m going to try and follow the excellent example of Kalima and pop in some articles which I hope will educate, entertain and amuse. Feel free to comment and I’ll try and get answers to any questions.

Some Facts to compare with life in the USA:

Gas Prices: $AU 1.50 /Ltr = $US 5.83/US GAL!
Milk: $AU 2.00 /Ltr = $US 7.28/US Gal.
House Prices: Astronomical! Sydney and Melbourne are in the Top 10 most expensive places in the world to buy real estate. My 3 bedroom townhouse, 1800 sq feet in a good suburb close (5 miles) to the city Centre is valued at almost a million Dollars! I didn’t pay that 9 years ago!
Food. Very expensive compared to the USA. A porterhouse steak is about $28AUD/Kilo = $US 26.30/kilo = $US 8.00/lb.
Vegetables: don’t even ask!
Eating out for two: Dinner with a bottle of domestic wine for two will set you back at least $AUD160.

Well, here are a few news items which may be of interest:

http://www.news.com.au/national/tony-abbott-says-the-carbon-tax-will-be-axed/story-fncynjr2-1226986704313
Bias Alert! this News.com.au is a Fox site!

A little more on the thorn in the side of the GOP-equivalent Government:
http://www.theage.com.au/nsw/clive-palmers-problem-with-living-two-lives-20140711-zt4g5.html

It’s not only the US which has to keep the financial wolves to bay:
http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/labor-ruse-sees-fofa-regulations-tabled-in-the-senate-20140710-3bq9c.html

The Coalition, by the way ,, is the Liberal/National Party Coalition. amusingly, the Liberal Party is actually the Conservatives, like the GOP. Labor Party is like the Democrats.

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Kalima
Admin

Could we expect anything more from your Tory what’shisface ?

Australia votes to repeal carbon tax

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-28339663

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funksands
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Pink as a sincere admirer of Australians and their country, I’m so glad you decided to write about this. My wife would move to Sydney tomorrow if I had a job there, and you never know what the future holds. 😉

I find Aussies to be very grounded and down-to earth, reasonably friendly, but almost self-consciously avoid bragging about themselves or their situation. I also am extremely impressed with how child-friendly Australia seems to be. Kids are welcome everywhere, which is a nice change of pace from some places in the US.

Many of them seem to be quite fond of Americans, though they do seem to view us as slightly dotty, deranged cousins (which may very well be true).

I am aware of healthy right-wing streak that runs through a lot of Aussies, but I never seem to have come across one personally in my travels there.

I do appreciate you electing Rick Perry as Prime Minister so we could avoid having him become President here.

Speaking of Prime Ministers, you had one PM that makes you one of the coolest countries in my book:

Prime Minister Harold Holt swam out to sea in 1967, never to be seen again.

How cool is that for a story?? 🙂

Some speculated he faked his death, some thought it was suicide, some that he was mentally unbalanced, but what an interesting story. Any country that has that happen is a damn interesting one.

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Fergie1
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Fergie1

Hey Funk, when I moved from Sydney to Melbourne, my husband and I were driving around looking for houses. Well, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a sign. It was…….

The Harold Holt Memorial Swimming Centre, in the heart of one of Melbourne’s most expensive suburbs, about 50 miles from where he was lost at sea. I don’t know if the Aussies are aware of the irony!

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AlphaBitch
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AlphaBitch

PPO: Just got back from the east coast (I’m in love with Maryland for now) and can’t wait to read this, but wanted to share with you one of my “Aussie” adventures (hard to have, considering I won’t fly).

Went to the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NV decades ago. They featured cowboys from Australia. I was mesmerized! Sir William Gunn (sp) had me crying OUT LOUD when he recited the poem “The Pearl of Them All” (think that was the name) and I became a huge fan of Henry Lawson (“Past Caring”).

One of my most favorite books ever was “In a Sunburned Country”, Bill Bryson’s tome about travels through Australia.

If I ever get over my flying phobia (and I won’t), Australia is truly one of the places I would most love to see.

I come from, left and have returned to, Texas. I am friends with the family from the King Ranch. I love the lifestyle.

Thanks for giving us some global perspective. For years now, all I could focus on was Afghanistan. Nice to turn to the west again. – AB

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funksands
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AB, that is one of my favorite books too. My wife’s best friend is an Aussie and on our last trip down there got to spend a lot of time with her large family in some small towns up and down the east coast. Really loved the people and the country (what I saw of it) Can’t wait to go back again in a few years.

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AlphaBitch
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AlphaBitch

Ever get the feeling you just ran into a deadly spider web? While holding rocks in your hands? Ha!

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Fergie1
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Fergie1

Nirek, you asked PPO, how can people afford to live there with prices like that?
Funny you should ask because there was an article just this weekend in The Age newspaper about dealing with that very subject pertaining to the elderly. The article is far too long. But it says that “an increasing number of elderly Austrlalians are supplementing their pensions with a spot of drug distribution”!

One paragraph in particular said that more than a quarter of older Australians struggle financially. The Global AgeWatch Index 2013 ranks the welfare of people over 60. “Australia trails behind Sweden, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom overall, and our ranking is diminished by the financial circumstances of our older people, just over a third have an income less than half the country’s median income. It’s little wonder that some are peddling drugs in order to make ends meet.”

One story was of a woman now in her late 60’s who had worked full-time as a nurse in Sydney and now to supplement her income she bakes marijuana cookies which she sells! So it wasn’t as if she hadn’t worked all her life. It’s just not easy.

No where is paradise, but truly the cost of living in Australia is very high. Those with high salaries do just fine.

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KillgoreTrout
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Nice debut article PPO. I have always wanted to visit Australia. The natural wonders alone would be worth the trip.

I never realized that the country/continent was so big. Maybe one of these days I’ll get down there. Of course, I would like to make the trip in shorter hops.

Have you ever toured the outback?

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Kalima
Admin

Hi ppo, said I’d come back but didn’t expect it to take this long, sorry. 😳

Knowing you a little from your time here at The Planet, this tongue-in-cheek piece is exactly how I imagined your first post to be. When we live in a country that is our second or in my case, third home, for a long time, we have every right to make fun of some of the more unflattering and comical aspects of that country, I do it with Japan quite often.

Still, Tokyo was again voted the most expensive city in the world, so I take first dibs on that one, living in a shoe box as I do. 😉

So thanks ppo, it was fun.

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kesmarn
Admin

PPO, I’m late to the party but just wanted to thank you for your good-humored article on the Land of Oz.

I have a dear friend who lives in Australia. She was born in the USA but married an Australian fella and has lived there for over 30 years. So she thinks and feels like a citizen by now.

Like you, she’s very frank about the foibles and quirks of Aussie culture and politics. But she also loves the place and — as far as I know — plans to spend the rest of her days there happily.

High prices and all, she seems to feel that the overall stress level is lower in Australia. I think she may be right.

We always enjoy your input on Vox on Friday evenings, because it’s so refreshing to get a different take on US politics from the eyes of someone outside the country.

So — thanks for the article. Or should I say: “Good on ya, mate!”

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MurphTheSurf3
Editor

An image reflecting how some Americans see Australia…OZ…

[img]http://danaux.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/screen-shot-2010-05-16-at-1-29-29-pm.png[/img]

Size does matter:

[img]http://www.bluefreight.com/Images/northamerica.jpg[/img]

A map for Americans

http://fc08.deviantart.net/fs8/i/2005/335/1/1/Map_of_Australia_for_Americans_by_JoesGuy.jpg

And by way of backup, a set of images re. the American understanding of the lethal nature of the Aussie environment….

There are some serious pieces that I have read that give me a sense of the layered psyche in your country:

http://aboriginalartandculture.wordpress.com/2012/03/18/the-psychology-of-everyday-australians/ and lastly this list of 10 films from a site that my friends admire http://australiancultureandcustoms.com/10-famous-australian-films-to-gain-insight-into-the-aussie-psyche/

I really appreciate snapshots like these. Mopshell has done a bunch of them at Daily Kos and perhaps will offer them here. I have three friends from down under and their descriptions of life there match up rather precisely with yours and Mopshells.

Thanks for this…do more…it opens the American mind.

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NoManIsAnIsland
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NoManIsAnIsland

Wow, good on you Murph, and to PPO: you may have been born in Ireland, but you’re dinky die now, and good on YOU, too, for your article and all your additional comments!

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MurphTheSurf3
Editor

Appreciated. I found the article interesting but the discussion even more so….only a neighborhood blog like the Planet could host such a conversation. Glad I am here and glad you all are here too.

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Mopshell
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Well pinkpantheroz and Fergie1, sounds like Australia is a truly horrible place which no-one in their right mind would bother to visit let alone want to live there. Its attitude to its natives is inhumane, condescending and thoughtless. Most of the population can’t afford decent housing let alone decent food to eat. Everyone lives only for themselves, no-one would ever help anyone else out, the concept of “mateship” being nothing more than a myth. The government is deeply conservative and verging on the destructive. As pointed out, they can’t even get the names of their political parties right (the Liberal Party being conservatives and not liberal at all). Barry Humphries is summed up with “CRINGE!” and “PPO! AAAGGGHHH!! Shoot me!” The wildlife (including birds) is deadly and though “you normally don’t find them in the suburbs” that infers that you do find them there from time to time so it’s a very dangerous place to be. Presumably they are also culturally vacuous since the best programming they export is trite soap operas.

Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion but are all Australians so negative about the country? Certainly I wouldn’t want to go there after reading this.

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Fergie1
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Fergie1

Mopshell: “Do all Australians hate their country so much?” There was no mention of “hate” in my post. Where did you read that? And why would you ask such a question? What I related was news as per the original attached article. You being from Tasmania, I’m sure that you keep up to date with what happens here in Australia political wise and every other wise.

And with respect, I have every right to CRINGE at Barry Humphries or his alter egos. People in every country of the world have different tastes.

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Mopshell
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All very true of course. Perhaps you could write an article about Australia’s entertainment from your point of view (do please include the Minogue sisters) – I can assure you it will go down very well here. Also, please expand on Medicare as you see it since healthcare is an issue of considerable interest to Americans.

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Fergie1
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Fergie1

Perhaps you could respond to my question of where you conjured up the “hate” in my post? It would give your post more credibility. I don’t respond to fatuous requests to write about Australian entertainment. It’s quite obvious that we have very different tastes
I’m very well aware that healthcare is of more than considerable interest to Americans and have shared extensively what Australia’s healthcare system offers with my Alumni friends, my work colleagues and other friends and family in America.
If I ever do decide to write such an article here it will be on my timetable and if it’s appropriate in my view.
Please feel free to write your own perspective here anytime since you were born in Australia , but I notice that you seem reluctant to add to the debate other than making assumptions that were out in left field.

Oh, and I’m not a born Australian – but have lived and worked here a long time and yes I do have the paper to say that I am a citizen of this country. I had Australian residency before I even stepped off the plane because no one else could do the job I had at the time and that was granted by the Australian Embassy in the U.S.

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Mopshell
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Fair comment – “hate” was inappropriate so I’ve changed it.

I can assure you that I will not be posting any articles about Australia here.

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MurphTheSurf3
Editor

I have already noted that your reflections on life in Australia provide an interesting set of snapshots which I think are worth noting.

How about providing the gang at the Planet with a list of your “Aussie” portrait from DK? Heck why not repost one of them here with a list of the others included.

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Mopshell
Member

No, I don’t think I will be doing that.

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Fergie1
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Fergie1

PPO, thank you for writing about some of the myths that are associated with Australia and in such an entertaining way. I concur 100%. If it’s OK with you I’ll add a link to an AlJazeera article that was on air just last year. Where the presenter says that MOST people can afford the higher prices, that is certaily not true for thousands of Seniors as well for a large percent of the population. It’s complicated and please don’t think that the majority of people can afford the lifestyle presented in this video!

Also Health Care is NOT entirely free as is the misconception of many. I recently paid $600 for an MRI. There was no rebate from my private (top cover) health insurance provider nor from the Government ‘Medicare’ scheme.

Come and visit folks, but don’t come to live here – two entirely different entities!

http://www.aljazeera.com/video/asia-pacific/2013/03/2013316204349871329.html

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