Let me say at the outset that I am quite proud of my adopted nation. After more than 65 years’ residence (as an adult) I can claim that I know (and understand) Australia and its peoples as well as anyone else. After all, there are not too many people of my vintage around; the others would have moved on to a happier place by now.
What is fascinating about Australia, in spite of coming across as somewhat weird in many aspects of significance, is that there is an aura of a people who are likeable, tolerant of change (incredibly vast changes in the last 40 years), somewhat laidback, increasingly colour-blind, and with a sense of human dignity (aided by high wages and plentiful welfare). Relative to the rest of the world, we are well fed and well watered.
On the flip side, there are many ‘takers,’ to be found at all levels of society. ‘Other peoples’ money is sought, and availed of, assiduously. I knew a few ‘disability pensioners’ who were fit, both physically and mentally. It does not seem difficult to be as a ‘carer’ to look after someone who is fit. A tradesman can retire early before age 60, and be paid as a carer to continue to look after his mother – who has lived with him and his wife for years.
As well, the ready availability of welfare payments can be enough to dissuade a young couple with children from seeking employment. Moving into a coastal village with no employment prospects is availed of by middle-aged couples; one can guess the source of their income. Then, a couple on the age pension is allowed to have assets (other than their home) of up to $1.2 million! Who is paying for such largesse?
Unlike the ‘olden days,’ when itinerant rural workers were available, now backpackers from overseas are needed. The use of labour hire contractors protects the farm producer from any deficiencies in the payment process. Deficiencies in the efficacy of oversight by relevant bureaucracies abound in key areas. For example, a number of young men were electrocuted under a new policy; but were any bureaucrats held responsible? Other examples are: a solid chunk of money intended for educational facilities was reportedly paid to a contractor as ‘middleman’; a US-style tertiary education innovation has been said to have cost the government vast amounts of money; a seemingly loosely-administered temporary entry visa scheme apparently brings in skilled workers because no such workers are available in Australia! How gullible are we? Where are the skilled workers laid off in large numbers in recent years?
Australia does come off as a bumbling nation, with its reported corruption comparable to petty theft against the grand larceny seemingly prevalent in some countries. But, we are a middle power, right? What is our record in backing the USA in its chosen wars? However, we did better in the invasion of Iraq by the Coalition of the Chilling (or was it Willing?)
Thus, the people are generally OK, but what can one say about the ‘takers’ and our rulers?