We have a lot to celebrate on Australia Day

I enjoy your local news journal.
It’s not just the only local news we ever get these days, but more useful coverage than we ever got with the Advocate and so on.
Sure it isn’t perfect, seems a tad repetitive occasionally, and we get a hell of a lot from one particular local politician’s office, but this is small beer.
You are doing a real good job for the local community, filling a significant social gap.
Now you’ve got an issue coming out in January that will overlap Australia Day.
It struck me that some of what is below (part of a lecture I’m doing for the local U3A), may well be relevant to a newspaper celebrating our national day.
It’s just that so many of us, including me, scream “A pox on both your houses!” to both political parties, and generally feel that we’re missing out, when the truth is, that this is a very lucky country indeed.
However, Australia is not the Lucky Country if you are on the dole which may just pay for your rental.
Australia is not the Lucky Country if you are homeless.
Australia is not the Lucky Country if you are a refugee on Manus.
Australia is not the Lucky Country if you are an Aborigine with a 10 times better chance of being in gaol than the rest of Australia.
The national polls usually paint a rather unhappy nation.
But then let us see ourselves as others see us.
Australia now leads the world in a significantly important economic activity, the longest period of uninterrupted growth, 25 years.
Although a number of West European countries have as good as or better work leave than Australia, its Long Service Leave is much better than is often available in most other countries.
This means, in most cases, that an Australian worker can expect to receive around 13 weeks of leave after 15 years of employment.
Australia’s annual leave standard entitlement is four weeks per year, after the first year with a company.
According to the Centre for Economic and Political Research (CEPR), almost one in four Americans has no paid vacation.
Recent government statistics suggest that the average private-sector worker in the US receives only about 10 days of paid annual leave and about six paid public holidays a year.
Australia has the second largest intake of migrants globally, yet maintains an open and harmonious society with a shared national identity.
Australia is a multicultural nation with 44 percent of people born overseas.
Over 200 languages and dialects are spoken in Australia, which gives the country a rich tapestry of cultures, not to mention a wonderful variety of cuisines from all parts of the world.
It is one of the resource-richest nations in the world with a relatively small population.
In 2013, Australia had the fourth highest global Median Income, better than the US and 50 percent higher than the UK.
In 2016, Australian Median Wealth, second after Switzerland, was also 50 percent higher than the UK.
This means in effect, that one Australian person, slap bang in the middle of the national wealth list, is almost four times wealthier than that person in the middle of the same list in the land of the free, the home of the brave, the richest country on earth, God’s own country, yep America.
Just consider that last figure for a moment, our middle person is four times as rich as the middle American.
Note that our Superannuation Act is not only an integral part of our individual wealth but that it also has ensured that the Australian worker is now a significant player on the Stock Market, without, in most cases, running the crazy risks experienced in many other countries.
Which country first faced one of the most entrenched powerful global industries, Tobacco, head on, beat them soundly and was the first nation to strike a fatal blow at the worst self-inflicted disease known to man?
Once more, Australia.
Australia has the fourteenth global highest life expectancy.
If countries listed above Australia that are single cities, like Monaco, or tiny islands like Jersey, are removed, then Australia has a more realistic figure of fourth nation globally.
Using the same list modification, male life expectancy is second, after Japan, globally.
“Global Access to Health Welfare” provides a very well balanced comprehensive analysis of the present health situation around the world.
In 2017, among the top-performing countries in the Global Access to Healthcare Index, Australia is ranked fourth
Among the top-performing countries in the individual accessibility domain, Australia is first.
Among top-performing countries in the area of access to medicines, Australia is fourth.
Among top-performing countries in the area of political will for increased access to healthcare, Australia is first.
Among top-performing countries in the area of reach of healthcare infrastructure, Australia is second.
With a continent-sized country, Australia provides its citizens with unparalleled climatic diversity, from temperate to tropical.
This ensures that Australia can supply its citizens with all the types of food crops that this planet grows.
And the highest global minimum wage?
Australia by far.
From July 1, 2017, the national minimum wage was increased to $18.29 per hour.
Compare this with Japan, $8.17; USA $7.25; UK $9.83; Russia $1.00; China 80c and South Korea $4.31.
Australians enjoy one of the most generous forms of social security payments offered anywhere in the world.
More than 100 separate forms of payments are provided by the Federal Government.
These are supplemented by additional State and Local Government allowances.
According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2016 global livability survey on 140 cities in the world, Sydney is the world’s second friendliest destination.
Although Australia’s Cost of Living is above average, Australia is constantly ranked second or third in overall global living standards.
From being ranked near the worst of OECD nations with treatment of people with disabilities in 2011, Australia is now rolling out one of the most globally progressive programs in 2018.
Last year saw a tidal sweep of progressive social change with the successful conclusion of the Royal Commission of Institutionalised Sexual Abuse; the passing of the Gay Marriage Act; and while NSW failed to pass its Euthanasia Act by one vote in the Upper House, Victoria passed its own.
And so perhaps we really have a lot to celebrate on Australia Day 2018.

Email, Jan 1
Ed Raferty, Davistown

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