Recently at the Home by the Sea, I met a new friend. So that he can remain anonymous, I’ll call him, ‘Old Mate,’ (as we sometimes do in Australia).
Most people who met Old Mate, thought him brash and cocky, but I was utterly charmed by his youthful exuberance. He’d entered my world uninvited and I’d welcomed and even encouraged him to visit me whenever he liked. “My door is always open. Come over anytime,” I told him nonchalantly.
Perhaps that was my mistake? I can be naive about such things.
Being a good neighbour, or so I thought, I’d offered him food and refreshments whenever he rocked up. He really did like that. So much so, that he brought his partner over to meet us. We were chuffed.
Both Old Mate and his partner were talented singers and would regularly entertain us when they popped in. It was obvious they were planning to settle nearby and start a family. I was looking forward to sharing their world and continuing our wonderful friendship.
I had no inkling that Old Mate would take liberties with our friendship in a way no one else has done before.
It came to a head this week.
Jumping around on my Dining table was, to say the least, extremely unsettling, so I was forced to do something I’ve never done before: I told Old Mate he had to leave – ordering him out of my house.
He didn’t take my announcement well: becoming angry and flustered, making excuses to check out several rooms in the house, before finally agreeing to leave.
That was the final straw. I abruptly terminated our friendship.
I feel bad. I miss him, but it has to be this way.
A father in his 40’s who surfed here every day. He was rescued, taken ashore but paramedics could not save him. The shark, believed to be a Great White, left its tooth embedded in the bite mark on his surfboard.
On our anniversary visits, I rarely went in for a swim, preferring to walk in the shallows and then past the old Shark Tower monument, which was erected in the 1960s for lifesavers to use as an observation site.
From that point, I would follow the boardwalk through the pandanus trees around the headland.
Even though we have nets to protect swimmers, the killer shark appears to have swum underneath the six-metre nets that line the shore.
The irony of the local name: ‘Snapper Rocks” Hotel and Surf Club, does not escape me.
So often we walk around in nature failing to notice the details, the grass under our feet.
Subtle changes in colour and appearance indicate the passing of the seasons. Many varieties of grass remain invisible, yet are an integral part of the natural landscape.
The theme for this week’s Friendly Friday challenge is:
‘Splendour in the Grass’
Using Grass to Frame a Landscape in Photography
In photographic terms, grass can be used to frame the shot or make an interesting feature in the foreground.
This ‘Moon viewing,’ photo captured during the Tsukimi festival in mid-Autumn, in Japan.
Japanese Senga Grass Fields at Mount Fuji
The Japanese find Splendour in the Sengakuhara Pampas Grass, by strolling along a walking trail, at the western side of Mount Hakone. For it is here that the changing colour of the tall grass offers stunning vistas. In November, the grass turns a shimmering, silvery gold. Wedding proposal and selfies abound at this time of year.
In Australia, a country fringed by blue oceans, you will find grass the colour of sunburnt earth, which often makes me yearn for the vivid fluorescent green grass of wetter climates.
Australian deserts display different kinds of saltbush grass.
In the arid conditions of the Australian landscape, plants have adapted to grow under extreme conditions, such as the grass tree.
Grass Trees in Australia
A relic of the Age of Dinosaurs, Xanthorrhoeas, also known as the Grass Tree, grow very slowly and are resistant to bushfire. In fact, fire helps the grass tree produce its flowers. They also have a unique symbiotic relationship with the soil. The presence of a mycorrhizal microbe in the soil around their roots allows them to flourish, even if the soils are nutrient-poor.
Grass Trees are highly sought after in Australian horticulture and as such are often illegally removed from their natural locations. They fetch high prices as ornamental plants. Little do the owners realize that if the soil in their garden does not contain the mycorrhizal enzyme, the grass tree that they paid so dearly for, will wither and die.
Imitating Nature in Growing Grass Trees
Here’s a secret that an old-timer once told me. Take a cup of brown sugar, put it in a bucket of water and water your grass trees once a month for two years with that mixture. The sugar feeds the mycorrhiza and gets it going and your grass tree will survive.
It is quite ironic that my Friendly Friday Challenge Co-host, Sandy, should give us the prompt, Market this week as I was just looking through my photos of the wonderful Market Hall, in Helsinki, Finland.
Where the Hungarians are spoilt for choice in varieties of Paprika in their markets, Helsinki is spoilt for choice in terms of Salmon.
Me, being Australian, have only really known three varieties of Smoked Salmon – Tasmanian, Norwegian and Danish Smoked Salmon.
My eyes opened as wide as saucers when I saw the contents of the cabinets in the Helsinki Markets, the day I arrived in the Finnish capital.
I remember it is not just ordinary salmon, because the thing that struck me about Finns, was that they had taken Salmon to a whole new level, like as in Heinz 52 different varieties.
Now I love Salmon, so I was pretty happy with this, until I realized how hard it would be be to choose which one to buy! I needed help to choose between Tsar’s salmon, Cold Smoked Salmon, Flamed Salmon, Lemon Salmon and Rose Pepper Salmon, etc. and in the end, feeling rather befuddled, I settled on Cured Salmon with Basilic. With a large helping of Salmon Soup? How could I resist?
You need to know that the people of Helsinki eat a good deal of fish, freshwater fish, that is. Even sometimes three times in a day. So when I think of Helsinki, I think of Salmon, and lots of it.”
I was announcing to friends that I was to leave my inner-city lifestyle and was moving to a Home by the Sea. A Seachange is the correct word, I believe.
“What. Why?” was the plaintive responses from colleagues and friends.
“Why move further out? That’s a long commute.”
Especially when, they continued to counsel me, a sought-after, inner-city lifestyle offers heady attractions and a swathe of facilities and friends, in close proximity? And my own kids concurred.
At the first whiff of this decision, the adult children refused to be involved. They saw it as a hedonistic move to the region’s boganesque outskirts, better known as, ‘The Peninsula.’
So why did we decide to continue with a Seachange?
Because life in the city cuts both ways.
Inner City Lifestyle is Attractive
Our urban locale of many years was idyllic, or so we thought.
Picture energetic, vegan eateries and sushi trains, interspersed with Craft beer hangouts playing Indie music, to all hours. Streets lined with cafes, punctuated by glamorous shops, awash with white and taupe furnishings, selling those ludicrously expensive cushions that are positioned for looks, rather than comfort, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of my former location. Many would find that attractive.
I have to admit the inner city life was swanky and practical. I had only a short walk to public transport, of all kinds, and a multitude of library and shopping options, as well as bakeries or gourmet restaurants, so close, that I’d never had to worry about squashing the bread or drinking and driving the car home.
So I had to ask myself again, why did I want to leave?
Because, it seemed. there was a niggling discontent in my heart.
I had begun to notice the downsides to urban living and they were becoming more and more bothersome, the closer I got to retirement age. I needed a change.
But wait. I began to hesitate.
Did I really want to give up work and this urban lifestyle right now, given that one’s work and financial contribution to society forms a large part of our identity?
I had to think this through properly and reassess what I’d really miss and what might be a potential deal-breaker. Was I ready for Retirement and a Seachange? It was a big move!
Weighing Up the Pros and Cons of Hipster Life in the City
Point #1 – Endless Facilities
City living is an ongoing adrenaline rush and offers many opportunities, but it also results in an expanding waistline and other First-World Problems that triggers a level of guilt, in me, one I wasn’t entirely happy with.
I had to admit Triple-shot Macchiatos or Banh Mi Market Breakfasts with Almond smoothies, at the local markets, were really fun but also the chief suspects in my increasing girth.
Those lovely market stalls one browses, on Sunday mornings, you know the ones that feature lovely handmade items, or organic Kombucha with a Turmeric and Kale chaser and a pulled pork bun, are very hipster, but as I wasn’t exercising too much, (I dislike aerobic exercise), you can have too much of a good thing. Diet and health concerns were not the only pressure.
Add to this, I felt indulgent. This consumerist lifestyle felt privileged and wasteful, considering how much poverty, need and homelessness exists in the world. There had to be something better that aligned more with my twilight years.
Point #2 (Or should I call it: bothersome fact #2?) – Noise, Busy Roads and Traffic
There were loads of new facilities, medical centres, shops, gyms and pilates studios opening every other week in the inner city districts. However, the incessant noise from the construction was something I wasn’t getting used to. Quite the contrary, my sleep was disturbed more and more with each passing month. Sleep deprivation is the kind of torture that one can’t abide when the childbearing years are far behind you, so the noise did nothing to foster a jolly mood.
Couple this issue with two near-miss incidents with myself and heavy machinery, plus a workman’s vehicle swerving towards me, both happening at pedestrian crossings near home, were other imperatives to move to a quieter area. (Twice in one week, I was nearly run over simply crossing the road to follow the concreted footpath!)
The horse and buggy style of those dated inner-city alleys and streets, that no cat worth his salt would be found swinging in, are all very quaint when you are a pioneer in the early 19th century, but crossing the street after 6am in 2020 was akin to having a death wish.
And, don’t get me started on the lack of on, or off-street, parking. That was Point #3.
Point #4 – Sharing Space with a Growing Population Density
Exercise in the inner city constituted a 30-minute stroll in the morning down a popular shared bike and pedestrian path. Early morning walks here, had recently become a dance with death as teams of hardcore, professional cycling enthusiasts, festooned in their all-too-revealing-bodysuits notoriously rode at that same time, and usually three abreast.
Some would forget to ring their bell as a warning of their impending presence and I’d stumble to maintain my balance and calm my frightened dog, as they swished past in a blur of lycra, shouting, “Move – it’s a bikeway,” in a range of accents, or offer a very defiant ‘finger,’ if I didn’t move to let them pass.
Despite all of this, it was the bruises that finally cemented my decision to sell and move to the Home by the Sea.
Point #5 – Small Rooms
In particular, the bruises incurred when my toe, or shin, connected clumsily with the bed-posts in the small inner-city Townhouse that I had down-sized to, as a potential retirement home. Low maintenance it was, but Townhouse living was going to be problematic.
Every room in my ultra-modern townhouse was so small, so confined, that it meant kicking my toe or shin, on the corner of the bed, vanity or chair, became a daily event. It might have been cute, compact and a breeze to clean, but there’s always a trade-off, isn’t there?
It was clear that I needed somewhere with a tad more space.
Not only that, but the family dog agreed with me.
Point #6 – Limited Yard for Pets
The small courtyard at the Townhouse gave the family dog no place to bury a bone, nor conduct her usual border patrol for illegal animal infiltrators. Her job, she thought, was to protect the premises from the likes of lizards, cats, Ibis or random Scrub Turkeys. The small astro-turfed courtyard just didn’t cut it, for my Princess.
A Home by the Sea
So weighing up the odds, we decided to move.
In complete contrast to Townhouse life, the Schnauzer loves her new home that has a small to medium L-shaped grassy yard. Now she can choose whether to sun herself or roll around in delight on the soft, green grass.
A bit like me really.
Retirement and the Pandemic
The Covid pandemic may have meant I retired a little prematurely, but more importantly, it has given me time to walk the dog, enjoy early mornings on the beach and not have to rush off to work, in busy commuter traffic.
To date, I have not sustained any bruises from the furniture in my new home by the sea!
A seemingly unending blue sky, fresh sea air, a comforting quietness as well as new places and friends to discover, has me feeling relaxed and content with no time constraints and nothing to do, but enjoy the rest of my life.
I leant out the car window this morning and had a conversation with a road cyclist at the traffic lights. I wanted to know why so many cyclists appear to choose NOT to ride on the outer or footpath side of the road, but position themselves on the inner side, dangerously close to where the cars travel. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t concern me, but it’s been a hot topic of whinging and conversation in the community, so I was a tad curious.
A simple enough question that had a surprising answer.
Road cycling is the most widespread form of cycling. It includes recreational, racing, commuting, and utility cycling. Road cyclists are generally expected to obey the same rules and laws as other vehicle drivers or riders and may also be vehicular cyclists.
Upon hearing my enquiry, this rather brash, lycra-clad rider put up his hackles. His stood tall on his bike, puffed his chest out, and his body language indicated he was ready for battle.
“It is not a dedicated bike lane back there,” he spat. “Read your road rules, love.”
I will admit Australia is slow to join the party when it comes to accommodating cyclists. The vast majority of major roads have no bike lanes, so cyclists must compete with trucks, cars, buses and all road users. Cyclists pay zero registration costs to contribute to the upkeep of the roads which earns the ire of the driving community. Rules vary from place to place but here we must keep 1 metre away from the bikes, when driving on the roads, due to the many cyclist deaths in commuter traffic.
Keeping 1 metre away would be simple if the cyclist kept to the outer or even the middle section of the emergency stopping lane, or roadside verge or bike lane, where there is one, but almost all seem to prefer to stick close to cars, which means the cars need to veer into the next lane, in order to comply with the 1-metre distance rule.
But I digress. Let’s go back to the discussion with the lycra-clad cyclist. As my intention wasn’t to debate the road rules, I clarified that I wanted to understand the motives behind the cyclist’s choice, so I persisted and, the traffic light was still red.
“On a Sunday morning”, he continued, “there’s so much glass on the road after Saturday night, that if I was to ride on the left (footpath), side of the road, I’d get nothing but flat tyres. So we all ride on the inside near the cars.”
– Road Cyclist in Red Lycra
As the traffic light then changed to green, I thanked him for the explanation and wound up my car window. His body language relaxed and he took off in another direction.
Yet, I was still left wondering – could there really be so much glass on ALL the major roads in our city? It just didn’t seem plausible. Is a flat tyre less preferable than safety?
Is this a problem in other countries without bike lanes?
Less than 30 minutes later, I was walking with friends along the beach with our dogs and recounted my story about the cyclist. We were all in agreeance, questioning the validity of the flat tyre argument, when one of the girl’s mobile phone rang.
On answering it, my friend let out a hearty laugh.
Her daughter had called to say she was on a bike ride on an inner city road and had just got a flat tyre!
Sometimes strange coincidences are not that strange after all.
I am not that fond of social media, but I do use it. Sounds a bit hypocritical, doesn’t it? I rather like the Facebook ‘Memories’ feature. It reminds me of what I was doing on that same date, in previous years. They are always happy memories. (I generally don’t post sad ones).
Last year at this time, for instance, I took a road trip with an old friend. We stayed overnight at an Eco-resort, a first for me. It was sublime. In the morning we took a walk through the forest and there was a surprise waiting for us, one that I wasn’t so fond of:
Instead of taking the highway home, we opted to follow some back roads. An unscheduled stop in a rural area, to check on a noise in the rear boot, (read: trunk if you are from the USA), led me to discover a surprising panorama. One that only the farmer and the cows might have shared:
However, a bigger surprise was to come a few miles north.
In a park prone to flooding (?!), a kilometre outside of the small country town of Kenilworth, Australia, a town known more for its prize-winning cheese, is a prize-winning Dunny, or public toilet facility.
180 people submitted their designs in a competition, run by the Town’s Council, for the creation of a new public – ah – monument. It was a local architectural illustrator, Michael Lennie, whose design titled Canistrum, Latin for a basket, that was selected.
At a cost of $600,000, the ‘Dunny’ was supposed to represent a basket – the basket being the history of the town and the unfinished basket supports the future history of the town, yet to be written.
But why yellow?
On pondering the glorious throne, of which I did not deem necessary to try out first hand, I pondered whether the artist was having a go at us, or maybe he was a ‘basket case?’ Lol.
The folks up that way do seem to have a wry sense of humour as the next surprise seemed to indicate.
This was spotted on the back road across the mountain.
Jurassic Park anyone?
If you haven’t already guessed, the theme this week for Friendly Friday is:
Show us a Surprise photo or two, or three in a Friendly Friday Post?
Because everyone likes Surprises, don’t they?
Even if they are a prize winning public toilet facility.
How to Join the Friendly Friday Challenge
To participate in the Challenge this week, you need to:
Create a Friendly Friday Post titled: ‘Friendly Friday – Surprise’
We live in a designated Koala area as the new house is located within a known corridor and adjacent to a protected Koala habitat. Yesterday, we spotted a Koala on our way home from essential shopping at the Hardware store.
This is not our first Koala sighting in our area. Several months ago, a male Koala was spotted resting in the lower branches of the same tree. See my post on Koala spotting here.
The Gumtree in which the furry marsupial was sitting, has a flourish of succulent new growth towards the crown, due, no doubt, to the recent rainfall. This has attracted another Koala occupant and this time it was a female with a Joey, (a baby Koala), in her pouch.
According to a neighbour living directly opposite, the koala had been in this tree for a week or so, I contacted the Koala Rescue to report the sighting.
The Rescue group has a number of volunteers who attend Koala sightings to perform a visual health check, as almost all Koalas in our State, are known to have a number of health issues, primarily Chlamydia infection. This is a particularly painful infection that can lead to Koala infertility, blindness and death. Along with Chlamydia, habitat loss has led to a significant decline in Koala populations to a point where they remain vulnerable.
Surveys have shown that some wild populations demonstrate a 100 percent rate of [Chlamydia] infection, which frequently leads to blindness, severe bladder inflammation, infertility and death. And treatment with antibiotics could create further problems for the marsupials, upsetting their gut microbes and making it difficult for them to digest the eucalyptus leaves that are a staple of their diet, researchers recently discovered.
The Moreton Bay Koala Rescue is an organization staffed by knowledgable volunteers who drop everything and run to aid a Koala. Marilyn and her able assistant used a set of binoculars to assess the Koala’s health from the ground, as the animal was too high to conduct a full-on assessment and rescue. In the video, they tapped the base of the tree with a stick, in order to assess her ease of movement and to get a better view of her as Koalas generally sleep during the day.
She may well be the Koala, known to rescuers as Barty, as she had a tag in her right ear, meaning that she is a female, (as women are always right!) and she did have a Joey in the pouch.
The Rescuers told us the Koala Mum has likely been carrying her Joey in the pouch, for around 6 months. In a few weeks time, this Joey will move out of the pouch and travel about on the Mum’s back for several months, until it is old enough and clever enough to live independently. If the Mum has chlamydia, she will, unfortunately, pass it on to the little Joey.
Koalas Killed on Roads in Breeding Season
Breeding season is when Koalas are on the move, crossing roads and hunting for a mate. This usually starts in July; perhaps it will start earlier this year, as daily temperatures have been higher than expected.
The Rescue stated that in the first 8 weeks of the breeding season in 2019, they received and cared for 22 injured Koalas, mostly as a result of being hit by cars. It is heartening that their numbers are still high in our region, but tragic that so many are still accidentally killed by motor vehicles when crossing the road.
Koalas are harmless creatures, they basically just want to eat their gum leaves, find a mate and sleep away most of the day. If you only ate one food, you might also sleep 18 hours in every 24 too! They are not endowed with speed and often travel at night when they are difficult to spot on the road.
Slow down if you drive through a known Koala Habitat.
Kangaroo Island Koalas
South Australia’s Kangaroo Island had the only population of Koalas in the country without Chlamydia infection. Sadly, it is believed up to 30,000 perished in the recent bushfires. 90 % of their food trees on the Island were burnt, so any surviving Koalas actually died from starvation, unless they were rescued. One resident claimed that you couldn’t walk ten metres in any part of the forest, without coming across a dead Koala carcass.
Why do we need to Protect Koala Habitat?
As incredible as it may seem, the Government still seems reluctant to protect Koala habitat. Koalas are specialised feeders; they are only able to eat four species of Eucalypt leaves and are thus, highly vulnerable to extinction. Ensuring that remaining Koala habitat is protected is a critical factor for their survival.
The Koala is an iconic symbol of Australia that brings millions of tourists and their dollars to our shores, yet it receives little recognition in the way of publicly funded support in return. After the recent bush fires, a new strategy to protect some realms of known Koala habitat in my own state, has even been criticised for not going far enough to cover many known Koala corridors.
It is absolutely essential to protect any remaining Koala habitat. We have been blessed with a responsiblity for this beautiful creature and it desperately needs our help to survive.
In order to maintain viable populations, the Koalas must be free to roam within their range and interbreed to remain healthy. Protecting Koala populations with Koala fences may actually prevent males from finding a mate to breed with.
Report Koala Sightings
It is imperative, therefore, that all sighting of Koalas are reported and documented, so that their movements can be tracked and the data collected and shared with Government bodies. This will assist in protecctive planning decisions that aim to preserve the Koala and its habitat for future generations to enjoy.
May 3 is Wild Koala day for the Moreton Bay Koala Rescue – a major fundraising event had to be cancelled, due to Covid 19. They are a not for profit organization dependent on donations and community support.
May the Rescue continue their great work. Thanks to every one of them.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young. Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow. They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted, They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.
Lest We Forget
What is an ANZAC?
“ANZACS,” is an acronym for the Australian and New Zealand Army Core, a group of troops renowned as courageous fighters who fought agains the Turks in the battlefields of WW I, far away from their own shores. Members on both sides of my family were injured and died at this gory battlefield.
Each year on April 25, Australia and New Zealand remember the Anzacs and broadly all the casualties of war. With ceremonies and services, the Anzac day traditions continue to grow in popularity, even though the last “digger” or Anzac soldier has passed away. Ceremonies are attended in every town, large and small, and attended by young people who proudly wear Grandfather’s medals and older ex-servicemen alike.
This year, Australians will honour them by standing on our driveway in a line of honour at 5.55am.
The sacrifice and valour of the original soldiers created the ANZAC legend and constituted a turning point in Australian history and the formulation of Australia’s identity. After this battle and war, Australians seemed no longer satisfied to be part of a British outpost in the Pacific. As a nation, we had grown up. We wanted to be a country and identity, in our own right, not a mere vassal. The Anzac legend fortified this belief.
The Anzac story of the Gallipoli battle has now become legendary. The Gallipoli battalions were sent into battle, under-resourced, and ordered to positions impossible to defend; vertical cliffs with enemy positioned at the top.
They were headed for a level of bloodshed on all sides, previously unknown in the annals of modern history. Actor Mel Gibson immortalized the Anzac soldier’s spirit in the 1981 film “Gallipoli”. It makes me cry every single time I watch it, for the men, their families and the loss of Australia’s best young men.
So every April 25, we will always remember them.
Lest We Forget
A snippet from 1981 of a surpringly nervous Mel Gibson as he talks about the film.
Australians are renowned for a laconic, self-deprecating sense of humour that is, to a large extent, the sort of mockery that is not meant to offend.
Australia – New Zealand Relations
We love to tease the New Zealanders about their accent and habits, like their habit of calling all and sundry, ‘bro.’ The Kiwis, in turn, mock us about our own ‘Straylan‘ accent, about who really invented pavlova, or whether Russell Crowe is an Aussie or Kiwi.
[Although after the phone-throwing incident, there was a debate as to whether anyone would claim Russell, at all].
Mocking each other can be a sign of feeling secure enough with the friendship that each may ‘have a go,’ or tease someone, in a gentle way, hopefully without it being taken personally, or causing offence. And so it is between New Zealanders and Australians.
Teasing aside, our countries do have a fairly similar culture, at least historically in the Anglo-Saxon sense. Many of us have relatives in both countries.
We understand each other and visit all the time, prior to Corona, of course. It is quicker to travel to New Zealand than to travel to the other side of Australia, for goodness sake. When every second or third New Zealand Teenager moved to Australia in search of work, in the 1980s, the popular joke here, was:
“So you moved here from New Zealand? Did you leave the light on?”
New Zealanders are very welcome in Australia and are treated as one of us. Well, except when it comes to welfare payments, perhaps. ‘Nuff’ said.
Aussie Vernacular Idioms
My Kiwi cousins enjoy teasing me about the way Aussies say, “Yeh, nah,” or ‘yes,’ then ‘no’ in the one breath or sentence. And we do say it. No doubt.
All the time!
So why was this T-shirt found in a souvenir shop, in New Zealand, with a kiwi as part of the logo? “Hey, bro?“
Are New Zealanders saying it, as well?
In defence of my fellow Aussies, this confusing phrase is used when we want to make two points, relative to one another, presumably to save time. As you may know, Aussies like to shorten everything to save time, especially when it comes to conversation and slang. As this video confirms:
In saying Yeh. Nah, we are agreeing with our conversational partner before further disagreeing on a smaller, less significant related point. Hence:
“Yeh, meaning you are right, (it looks like it might rain, but) “nah” meaning in reality, it probably won’t rain this afternoon – hence “Yeh, Nah, I don’t think it’s going to rain!” Clear as mud?
It seems this confusing idiom that makes no literal sense has traversed the Tasman Sea, into New Zealand to the point that it’s now New Zealand speak, if only because it has the word, ‘bro’, after it!!
Aussies will NOT disagree with this, will they? Yeh…. nah!
And if you are ready for some more Aussie humour, Carl might give you a laugh.
This is Australia, a continent not ravaged by war, disease or famine.
A country rich in resources and a friendly open public.
It should be a vanguard for a successful democracy, shouldn’t it?
Australia in 2020
A wobbly renewable energy sector,
Over-reliance of exports of raw materials,
A powerful and corrupt financial sector,
A struggling research and tech industry.
Environmental devastation from natural disasters,
Bushfire, drought and cheap imports.
Declining export markets and competitiveness.
Decreasing full time unemployment and
increasing casualization of the workforce.
It all sounds like a bit like a third world country, but it isn’t.
This is Australia!
And it might be a recipe for economic and environmental disaster.
The Tyranny of Distance
Many companies find trading in Australia logistically difficult, due to the ‘tyranny of distance’. We are, after all, stuck right down the bottom of the planet, on the way to nowhere except perhaps New Zealand and Antarctica, and not too many companies head to the southern continent. (No offence there to my Kiwi rellies intended).
In order to stay competitive, Australian companies might decide to decrease production costs, and one popular method of achieving this is reducing staff. Any profits made via increased productivity, is then divided up amongst shareholders. So there is not much incentive to hold onto staff.
Offshore Corporate Relocation
Companies that formerly hired Australians in varying sectors of the economy have, in the last decade, moved company operations off-shore, to a cheaper labour market in Asia, Bangladesh or India.
The result: Lower quality control, poorer reliability and worst of all: – less jobs in Australia! Not only is there less job vacancies, there are less permanent full time jobs – with the end result being a workforce that is highly casualized and contractual. That sure doesn’t help economic stability.
The solar energy industry and the Green movements are not to blame, yet that seems to be the mantra from conservative politicians and mining companies magnates. The country has became so very much dependant on them, that it is their voices that now carry weight over any others.
The agriculture and animal farming industries are in constant decline too, with perhaps the worst, yet to be experienced, as we feel the full brunt of the aftermath of the bushfires and the Chinese slowdown.
Australia grew up on the “sheep’s back.” That is, we sold wool and wheat to the world. But as the third world develops along western lines, Australian products have become far too expensive, and we have to add in long and expensive hours of transport, from this corner of the planet. Thus, Aussie products are no longer selling well, and there is nothing yet to replace that.
This gives the mining companies so much power to influence public policy and push their own agenda, to politicians.
We have a non- existent manufacturing sector – what we did have already disappeared overseas. The banks and mines and perhaps, housing construction are the only thing keeping our economy going and thus, our current standard of living.
Is this enough to maintain our current standard of living into the future?
“… the old cargo cult mentality of Australia that she’ll be right.”
Paul Keating Former P.M and Treasurer
Education in the form of mostly Asian fee-paying students, is the only other small growth area in the economy, and wholly depends on Australia’s immigration policy towards foreigner students.
Universal Compulsory Voting
The outlook seems bleak, and even more so, as the majority of people do not realize the long term implications for our country. They appear easily swayed by sweet talking politicians.
Politicians with a complex and well thought through economic plan did not seem to find favor in the electorate at the last election.
Franking Credit Scheme
The Government pays out an enormous amount of money on public schooling in Australia, and an equivalent amount, is paid out by the Government to shareholder investors, in the form of franking credits for shares. The shareholders get paid a second time by the Government on top of the dividend itself, and the proposed scheme to rein this in, was complex.
Dividends are paid out of profits which have already been subject to Australian company tax which is currently 30%. This means that shareholders receive a rebate for the tax paid by the company on profits distributed as dividends.You are entitled to receive a credit for any tax the company has paid. If your top tax rate is less than the company’s tax rate, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) will refund you the difference.
With the Opposition not being able to communicate this properly to the electorate at the last election, meant the incumbent Government hoodwinked voters into believing money was going to be taken off their investments and another new tax imposed!
Suggestions of introducing Emissions trading schemes have ended many a politician’s career on both sides of politics. The media and oppositions have turned these suggestions in to the popular and false threat of a “new tax,” and the Australia public runs scared.
Voting in Australia
Compulsory voting means these folks who are ill-informed, or who might hear a mere headline or snippet of news from a tabloid source, vote with a knee-jerk reaction. In key electorates, this can make or break a good policy and Government, even though the majority of voters see through this charade.
Another example of voter ignorance was the suggestion of introducing a subsidized Electric Car Initiatives to tackle Climate Change and Emissions, which was scoffed at by conservatives who believed, quite incorrectly, that if elected, the party with the Electric car proposal would destroy the Aussie weekend culture, that centres around activities, in the ‘Ute” – (pickup truck)
Solar Power Generation
A country bathed in perpetual sunlight should be the solar powerhouse of the world. We should have our own solar panels in endless production, but instead we import solar panels from colder countries like Canada, Germany and China.
Because Australia has alway relied heavily on Coal fired power. Dirty Coal. The current Prime Minister loves it so much he brought some into parliament. What a joke!
Apparently it is cheaper to pollute the planet, than support Australian jobs and industry. In fact, the coal mining lobby is so widespread and so powerful, it spreads so many lies and falsehoods about solar power generation, it is scandalous. And the naive voters lap this up and spit it back at backyard barbeques to other ignorant constituents, who don’t know any better. Closed minds and closed hearts.And these folks vote.
An initial scheme to subsidize the introduction of solar panels in residential homes was SO successful, the government put a stop to it, as the coal industry was feeling the financial pinch and the government was losing royalties paid by mining companies.
Notwithstanding a solution is urgently needed to dispose of used solar panels, why on earth would you not want free, clean, non-polluting energy, I ask?
I’m irritated by the incumbent government and the future of my country. I now question universal suffrage and the abilities of the opposition parties to communicate their policies with the electorate.
Is this where democracy is flawed?
The public votes for short term gains, and not long term benefits for all?
Australia – become informed and think about where your vote goes.