Advance, Australia Fair, Part One.

Last week, I obtained the initial provisional two-year Australian residency permit that will, at the end of that period, likely lead to permanence. This means that April and I can come, and go, from this country as we please; I’m now covered by the Australian socialized medical system as well, and can purchase further private insurance, which we fully intend to do.

Over the last two years I have noticed a number of differences between Australia and Canada; although both countries belong to the Commonwealth, and both have Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state, there are several dramatic differences.

First off, the people in Australia tend to be a great deal more ‘laid-back’ than those in Canada. April and I have experienced far less overt discriminatory behaviour from Australians than from Canadians. I state overt because there have been times here when I have wondered if difficulties, such as poor service, we have encountered have been related to our relationship, or if the situation would have been the same had we been a heterosexual couple. Regardless, even if my fears are justified, I still prefer it here.

Australians are, however, a bit more hypocritical, when it comes to subjects of fair play and sportsmanship, than Canadians. If an American hockey team, for example, gives a Canadian team a run for their money, Canadians do not typically hurl insults and denigrations at the opposition; rather, they will applaud their efforts. Here, this is not the case. A recent battle, in cricket, between Australia and India was full of accusations and poor sportsmanship not only on the part of the Australian cricket players, but the media. It was a spectacle that was quite unfortunate; happily, the international body that regulates the sport, the IOC, is moving to clean up that aspect of the game. They should not need to.

The laws that govern many aspects of Australian life are far simpler than their Canadian counterparts, and the bodies that regulate same are less prevalent as well. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission investigates practically all complaints regarding any situation where money changes hands, from petrol prices to rent increases to poor restaurant service. In Canada, several departments on both a provincial and federal level provide these protections. The benefits given by either system are debatable; the ACCC requires less bureaucracy, but can be slow to act, and inconsistent in it’s decisions. The Canadian system is faster, but requires more taxpayer funds.

Perhaps part of this is due to the fact that Canadians love to complain, whereas Australians tend to be contend to cut their losses from a bad transaction, and move on, content with supplying negative feedback regarding the person or institution that wronged them to any who will hear it. Canadians, rather, will fight tooth and nail to get their two dollars returned.

The court system here, in Australia is, quite frankly, crazy; a few months ago, I remember reading about some fellow who managed to evade jail for vehicular manslaughter by using the defense that he was drunk at the time, and thus not culpable for his actions. The judiciary in Australia appears to be responsible to no-one and, as a result, hands down decisions that occasionally defy logic; most of these are related to alcohol.

Alcohol is a great part of Australian life; Aussies consume a large amount of it. Admittedly, I enjoy my wine a great deal (however, don’t get me started on that syrup that masquerades as Australian wine!) but I certainly would not defend my habit to the point that I’ve seen here. Some people seem to believe that drinking is a constitutional right. Granted, there has been a great deal of press covering teenage binge-drinking, but the surveys quoted that prompted this publicity are merely the tip of the iceberg. It’s not as if people tend to answer honestly regarding their poor habits, and it can be safely assumed that the estimations given regarding average alcohol consumption have been substantially minimized.

Conversely, Canada’s become a bit more of a ‘nanny state’ in recent years than I would typically like, and I could be defined as a liberal leaning towards socialism. Which, roughly translated, means that Canada is becoming slightly left of… well… nobody.

On a more immediate note, the houses and flats here are typically not furnished with central heating and, here in Melbourne at least, it can get quite chilly in the winter. Not sub-zero by any means, but a concrete and brick flat can get quite frosty even in single digit Celsius temperatures. It’s as if the people here suffer through each winter, complaining bitterly about how cold they are, and then, when spring comes, they promptly forget all about it, until next winter. As a result, no effort is made to weather-strip windows, or install heating facilities.

Canadians, on the other hand, are always cold and, as a result, love their central heating, hot baths and showers, and trips to the desert. Australians love to ski.

Stay tuned for part two.

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Advance, Australia Fair, Part One.

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