Sticker Shock Sydney

Sep 24th, 2009, 09:48 PM
  #41  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
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The Australian system of welfare is very simple.
If you are unable to find work, then you receive unemployment benefits. This is at the rate of $228 per week for a single person, or about half the adult minimum wage.
The benefit is increased if the unemployed person has dependents.
Single parents receive welfare if unable to work, at a higher rate than unemployment benefits. But once their youngest child reaches school age, then they go to unemployment benefits.
Older people (aged 65 for men, 60 for women, I think) receive the aged pension.
Disabled people receive a disability pension, and I’m not sure of the rate.

All these benefits are “means tested”, so are reduced if the person receiving benefits has some income.

While one might expect that this seemingly generous range of benefits would encourage unemployment, we have still a low rate of unemployment. It is about 7% I think, (and I’m certain that Neil will correct this).

As a taxpayer, I don’t mind that people receive benefits. I’d rather that people were not living in poverty, and I’m glad that we rarely see people begging on the streets. A knock on affect of poverty is that kids don’t attend school, or can’t attend school, and then the poverty cycle just goes on. There are people living on the streets here, but not in great numbers. We don’t see people with signs saying “Will work for food”.

Aboriginal people receive the same welfare benefits as other people. The chronic problems of ill health, alcoholism and violence in Aboriginal communities are a national disgrace.

Apropos of nothing, it’s nice to be having a dialogue without the usual Fodors vitriol.
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Sep 24th, 2009, 09:53 PM
  #42  
 
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In Aus, people who have a dependent spouse or children can claim a tax deduction for them. There is also a Family Allowance paid to families with children, and this is paid no matter what the family income is.
Aus has a high rate of home ownership - there is a "First Home Owners" grant payable when one buys one's first home. It is about $15,000, and mainly serves to push house prices up by $15,000! The grant was increased when the big bad Global Financial Crisis hit, and so Aus house prices did not fall nearly as much as they did in the USA or the UK. The increased grant supported the housing market.
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Sep 24th, 2009, 09:55 PM
  #43  
 
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This websiite will explain it better than I can:
http://www.centrelink.gov.au/interne...tart_rates.htm
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Sep 24th, 2009, 10:26 PM
  #44  
 
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"It is about 7% I think, (and I’m certain that Neil will correct this)."

At the risk of getting branded Resident Nerd, Peter, last month's number was 5.8%, no change from the two preceding months, although 30,000 fulltime jobs were replaced by a similar number of part-time jobs.

Re unemployment benefits, there's also a rent allowance.

Australia leans more towards European social attitudes than the US (on average less worried about government activity than the US, less religious), but we don't seem to have as generous welfare provisions or as equitable an income distribution as the Europeans mostly do.

One interestng indicator is annual recreation leave - western Europe typically 6 weeks as I understand it, Australia 4 weeks, USA typically 2 weeks (can be more, can even be less) - which explains the tight schedules of so many enquiries on this forum.

I'm surprised this thread hasn't been shunted off to the Lounge by now - a good thing though, as despite our best efforts it would have quickly sunk without trace, drowned in the usual sea of inanities, posts on US politics and never-ending spats between British and American posters.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Sep 24th, 2009, 10:35 PM
  #45  
 
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Neil, I figured the best way to get a number was to nominate something, in the expectation that you would correct it if it were wrong.

Ineresting comment about annual leave. In Aus we have four weeks, plus two weeks of public hols (as do the Americans) and generally two weeks sick paid sick leave, so we have to work for 44 weeks in the year. Maybe we earn less than the Americans because we work less.
Cheers
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Sep 24th, 2009, 10:48 PM
  #46  
 
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#
Peter_S_Aus on Sep 25, 09 at 01:48 AM
"Apropos of nothing, it’s nice to be having a dialogue without the usual Fodors vitriol. "

Hear, Hear! Even after my Yank baiting.
Saltuarius is offline  
Sep 24th, 2009, 11:02 PM
  #47  
 
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BTW, it has to be said that the differences in national attitudes are generalisations, and any such about the US has to take account of the fact that America is a very diverse nation with very pronounced divisions in attitudes.

Just about all the Americans I've known have been urban, educated and of a "liberal" leaning, and we've found little to disagree about politically. But conservative-leaning Americans often hold their views with much more intensity than their Australian counterparts.

I certainly found that out on my last visit to the US, when we found ourselves sharing breakfast in a B&B in Truckee, CA, with two couples of hard-core Republican sympathies. Foolishly I queried their firm belief that government involvement in just about anything is bad by definition. We didn't get very far before our fellow guests started looking uncomfortable at being in the same room as a foreign commie. They were nice enough people, but once politics was raised (and they raised it, not me) they went through a sort of Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Sep 24th, 2009, 11:04 PM
  #48  
 
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I appreciate the civlized responses guys. I was almost afraid to ask, thinking I might get jumped on.

Those "will work for food" sign holders are a US embarassment Peter (and George of course), although from what I've read some of them make a good living at it and find it more agreeable than sitting at a desk. I can't take most of them seriously.
Melnq8 is offline  
Sep 24th, 2009, 11:10 PM
  #49  
 
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I think that Americans are more likely to wear their political hearts on their sleeves because of the business of being a registered Republican or Democrat voter. It means that one is always political, and there are elections every two years.

And so many positions are filled by elections. Judges, congressmen, state legislators, dog catchers, town councils, the lot.

By comparison, in Aus, membership of a political party is not all that common. (I was a card carrying member of the ALP for a while.)

And Melnq, you'd be seeing more aboriginal disadvantage in Perth than Neil and I. He's from Canberra, and I'm from Melbourne, and neither city has a large Aboriginal population.
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Sep 24th, 2009, 11:32 PM
  #50  
 
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Can't blame you for trying Saltaurius.

As far as vacation time goes, the US can learn alot from Europe and Australia IMO. It's not two weeks for life though, you do earn more the longer you're with a company, but it's a slow process. My husband has worked for the same company for 29 years, he currently gets five weeks of vacation (plus some additional time for working outside of the US). At 30 years he'll get six weeks. It's depressing.

Interestingly enough, he's expected to work longer hours than his Australian co-workers. He works about 10 hours a day, they work about seven.

No such thing as long service leave, which I understand is available to Australians after seven years.

And while the US had 10 federal holidays this year, not everyone gets them off. Generally only banks and government offices close for Veterans Day, Washington's Birthday, Columbus Day and Martin Luther King Day. In the private sector it varies a bit.
Melnq8 is offline  
Sep 24th, 2009, 11:37 PM
  #51  
 
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Actually Peter, I've not seen any aboriginal disadvantage here in Perth. I'm not convinced any Australians even live here!

My aboriginal sightings have been limited to Kalgoorlie, Coober Pedy and somewhere in Queensland (can't remember where). They were all memorable though.
Melnq8 is offline  
Sep 25th, 2009, 12:22 AM
  #52  
 
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Getting back to the original post. Here is a link to a survey produced each year by my old employers, which shows the relative cost of living in cities around the world. There is a particular reference to Oz and the then weakness of the AUD. Given the current strength of the AU$ versus the US$, this position has clearly reversed and I imagine next years survey will almost certainly show Australian cities shooting up the rankings.

http://www.mercer.com/costoflivingpr
crellston is offline  
Sep 25th, 2009, 03:44 AM
  #53  
 
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Hi Mel,

If you think your husband's vacation allotment's depressing, because of the economy, the layoffs (or whatever term they're using this week); I have clients who have vacation time accrued who aren't even TAKING it because they're afraid they'll come back and their job will be gone.

I have a friend who works at Microsoft and I've lost track of the number of times they've reduced staff. It was about half in her department; meanwhile the workload's the same! On one project, she was told by a supervisor that she really didn't care if she had to work nights, weekends, 14 hour days, whatever; but the project had to be completed by a specific time. So, more work, same pay, no raise (salary freeze) and people will do whatever they have to because the alternative is unemployment.

On that cheery note...

Melodie
wlzmatilida is offline  
Sep 25th, 2009, 04:10 AM
  #54  
 
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You're full of good news today Melodie.
Melnq8 is offline  
Sep 25th, 2009, 05:05 AM
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"... I've not seen any aboriginal disadvantage here in Perth. I'm not convinced any Australians even live here!"

Glad to hear that confirmed. From my flying visits to Perth I did form the impression that it was populated entirely by Poms, Seth Efrikens and my wife's auntie. I assumed nobody had told them Australia extended any further east.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Sep 25th, 2009, 02:43 PM
  #56  
 
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Mel..

Albaturkey - that's what my friends call it. I would have had to look up the correct spelling - but was overcome with ennui (laziness in Oz) so didn't bother!

Interesting discussion, people.
margo_oz is offline  
Sep 25th, 2009, 03:02 PM
  #57  
 
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I figured as much Margo. I can't spell it either. I usually abbreviate it ABQ, which is actually the airport code.
Melnq8 is offline  
Sep 25th, 2009, 03:26 PM
  #58  
 
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"Glad to hear that confirmed. From my flying visits to Perth I did form the impression that it was populated entirely by Poms, Seth Efrikens and my wife's auntie"

Don't forget the Asians, the Italians and the odd Canadian, although many of them are citizens, so they're Australian in that regard. We Yanks seem to be in the minority...every time I hear an American accent my ears perk up because I hear it so seldom.

Interestingly, I've only had one or two people comment on my accent (or lack of one) here in WA, yet during our visit in SA, everyone we met wanted to know where in the US or Canada we were from - it'd be the first question on their lips after we greeted them.
Melnq8 is offline  
Sep 25th, 2009, 05:27 PM
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I remember Albuquerque ... bustling Spanish Old Town tourist precinct but downtown was strangely deserted when we drove in.

Accents: when I read Mark Twain's account of his visit to Australia I was struck by the following observation. I wondered whether our speech has changed, Americans have changed, both have changed, or whether Mr Clements just had a tin ear:

"The Australians did not seem to me to differ noticeably from Americans, either in dress, carriage, ways, pronunciation, inflections, or general appearance. There were fleeting and subtle suggestions of their English origin, but these were not pronounced enough, as a rule, to catch one's attention. The people have easy and cordial manners from the beginning --from the moment that the introduction is completed. This is American. To put it in another way, it is English friendliness with the English shyness and self-consciousness left out."

- "Following The Equator: A Journey Around The World"
(http://www.site-webmaster.com/litera...g-the-equator/)

Americans and Canadians: when I can't tell the difference I've found it safest to ask "What part of Canada are you from?" If the person is American he or she won't be too annoyed at being taken for a Canadian, but the easiest way to annoy a Canadian is to ask where in the US they hail from. The second easiest is to ask why they're decked out in all those funny little red maple leaves.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Sep 25th, 2009, 06:43 PM
  #60  
 
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Neil's just showing off that he can spell ABQ!!!
margo_oz is offline  

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