I Sleep Just Fine, Mr Scribe.

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I suggest that The Scribe (Manning Community News, December 2018) sleep contentedly at night.   

We live in a wonderful country, not without faults, but in the main filled with great people, sound Government and opportunities that many other countries envy.

Sure, we have our challenges.  But to suggest that present-day Australians are buckling under massive pressures not seen since WW 2 is a bit rich.  I was a baby-boomer lad and I can remember the 1950’s.  I remember what my parents and other families had then.   In my opinion, Australia is a far wealthier, fairer and freer society now.

Mr Scribe, you are very negative.   You listed 20 areas of concern, but I only agreed with three of these:  climate change, degradation of our natural environments and the impacts of drugs in our society.    I’m sure most other countries are battling these issues.   And I also think our present society is a lot more motivated to overcome these issues than say 30 years ago.

But your remaining list was filled with exaggerations, arguments presented with no evidence or proof and some points which I believe are just plain wrong.

Do you really think instances of family violence are “increasing at a frightening rate”?   I agree it is being reported more with better legislation and our ever alert media, but I suspect it was considerably higher a couple of generations ago.

You don’t like being reminded that “we invaded Australia”?   Well, how else would you describe the British colonisation here?  We have a responsibility to acknowledge our history, be it heroic or shameful.

You think petrol and electricity cost too much here?  Try owning a car in Europe or Asia and see if you still think that way.  In New Zealand, the present cost for petrol is about $2.30 a litre.   And watch this space.  I think we will see the cost of both petrol and electricity gradually fall in Australia in the coming years.

Mr Scribe, you seem to have two main concerns.  You feel we have let too many people from non-British countries settle here, and you bemoan the loss of a “traditional Australian way of life”.

Regarding our acceptance of migrants and refugees, I believe they have had added greatly to our quality of life.   We are a much richer country because of them and I say, keep them coming.  They are not a drain on our resources and they don’t take our jobs, they actually help grow our economy.  Economic statistics show migrant people start more businesses than non-migrants, and they are recorded in smaller numbers in unemployment statistics.  This is simply because, by and large, they demonstrate a high work ethic.  They recognise Australia has better opportunities for them and they work hard to achieve them.

They do the hard manual processing jobs, the factory work, the night shifts and the tough, unpalatable jobs which many employers find hard to fill.   Yes, there are many staff shortages in Australia which laid back Aussies won’t do  –  but not these newcomers.  Ask the managers of big meat processers.   Or go and watch when the shifts change and it’s like a parade of United Nations.   Migrants work hard, don’t waste their money and are soon buying their house and putting their kids through Uni.   And they are reflected in lower rates in crime statistics.    Please don’t believe what you might hear about “African migrant gangs’ in Melbourne.   Even the Police there don’t believe those rumours and they ought to know.

And migrants fill many specialist medical jobs for our health industry.   Tamworth Rural Referral Hospital is a large new regional hospital in a growing economic hotspot.  Around 40% of all its staff (doctors, specialists, nurses, Allied health professionals, etc.) were born overseas.  There just aren’t enough local suitably qualified people so the Hospital managers have to advertise overseas.   Our health industry simply wouldn’t work without these people.   Nor would many other parts of our economy.

You talk of ghettos arising, and that “we have to fit in with their needs”.  Well, we don’t.  But one of the principles of the Multicultural NSW (a part of the NSW Government) is that people from overseas will be permitted to continue their cultural and religious practices here, provided they are not illegal and they don’t interfere with us.   I don’t have a problem with that.  Many NSW country towns now have mosques, synagogues and temples.   Why not let them be happy in their new country?

And look at the food they have shared with us!   And music, crafts, theatre and dances.  Go and check out their multi-cultural festivals.   They are hard working, creative and ethical people and ideal citizens for Australia.  They drive our economy and enrich us.

Mr Scribe, you seem to keep remembering a ‘golden’ Australian way of life from some time ago which is apparently slipping away.  I wonder when that was.   The post-War era when Australia was largely British in culture with plenty of jobs and when houses were fairly easy to buy?   The 1950’s or 1960’s perhaps?

Well, I say our present time is vastly better.  Post-War Australia was a golden age economically but it sure had its dark sides.   Women were often prevented from working.  If they chose to work, they were often paid less than men for the same work, purely for being female.  They couldn’t buy a house in their own name.  Men  controlled the purse strings.  Children were often punished in schools and some homes by being beaten with straps and sticks.   Drinking to excess was common and drink driving caused many needless deaths.   And I won’t delve into family violence but I am sure it was higher.  There was no mandatory reporting by doctors and teachers then.

And can you remember the religious intolerances?   Catholics and Protestants often wouldn’t look at each other.  And look what we’ve found out about some rogue priests and religious leaders.  Fifty years ago all this was ignored and swept under the carpet so it could continue.

And our Aboriginal population were treated dreadfully.   They couldn’t buy a house.   Their children were still being ‘stolen’ in some states.   They couldn’t vote.  If they were able to get a job, they often weren’t paid fair wages.  And they were also denied the Dole.    Do you know that if they had enlisted to fight for Australia during WW 1 or 2, they were rarely given recognition?   Very few were awarded medals, even standard service medals.    Very few were given Soldier Settler blocks.  And many RSL’s did not allow them to join?

Oh, what a wonderful society we had then.   Thankfully, we have moved on to correct many of these things.

Every society goes through changes and Australia certainly has.   This is unstoppable as we are now largely impacted by worldwide factors like vastly better communications and the Internet.   But it is far from all bad and I believe it is mostly for the good.  Children nowadays have wonderful opportunities if they seek them out.   A good education and good interpersonal skills will let them achieve just about anything.   The cost of household goods, cars, clothes and overseas travel has never been lower.   Australia now has Medicare, fairer court systems and protection for whistle blowers.   Workers’ rights are much improved.

To be born in Australia now or to be invited to live here is like winning a lottery.  We truly live in an exceptional bubble of advantages and good fortune compared to most other countries.   We live in changing times and change can be daunting and unsettling.   But we really need to focus on positives and what we can control ourselves.   In Australia, that is a lot.

In our country, we are blessed with stable  Government and pretty good social supports.   We have quite a free society where people can express their views, and many countries don’t have this.  Just travel overseas and you will recognise how lucky we are.  We also have a high standard of living, plenty of fresh food at affordable prices, relatively high wages, generous Government benefits and low energy prices.   And we also have a gentle climate and great natural resources.

So I tactfully suggest Mr Scribe takes another look at that glass and thinks again whether it is half empty or half full.  Sleep easy, our world isn’t about to end, it is just getting better all the time.   Sure, it isn’t perfect but we have it pretty good here in Australia.   Just trust in God who has blessed us with so many good things.

I thank The Scribe for his thoughtful letter, and also the Manning Community News for its forum of ideas and information.   We often have different opinions and just one of our many freedoms in Australia is permission to express them without fear or anxiety.

B.Lincoln

Wingham, NSW

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