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The self-satisfied country

Nick Bryant | 02:31 UK time, Wednesday, 13 April 2011

You will have to forgive me for coming up with yet another headline on The Lucky Country theme, which, confessedly, is something of an occupational hazard in these parts.

Most Australian journalists and headline writers, I sometimes suspect, have a function key on their computers which spews out "The ...... Country". Then they simply fill in the blanks: "Smart." "Clever." "Paranoid." "Strange.""Polarised." Or "Unlucky," if they are feeling particularly unimaginative.

In Washington, reporters have two function keys that work in much the same way. One throws up the suffix "-gate", to be attached to any scandal, large or small. The other is for variations on the theme of "commander-in-chief." At times of national tragedy, it is "emoter-in-chief" or, perhaps, "grief-counsellor-in-chief." At this time a year, when the president is expected to perform a self-deprecating stand-up routine at various black-tie correspondent dinners, the words "joker" or "prankster" apply. But I digress.

For what I really want to talk about is a new report from the OECD - don't click away quite yet - which fuels the boast that Australia is one of the great lifestyle superpowers of the world.

To start with, Aussies live longer than most other people in advanced economies - to a ripe old average age of 81.5 - which puts the country third in the world behind Japan and Switzerland. In the longevity stakes, that's 2 years longer the OECD average. Median disposable income is also the fifth highest in the world, with only Luxembourg, America, Norway and Iceland doing better.

When it comes to their natural environment, Australians are particularly content - some would say downright smug. The report suggests more than 93% are content with air and water quality. There's also a high degree of confidence in the military, in government and the incorruptibility of public officials.

Australia is apparently the third kindest in the country in the world, judged by voluntary work and charitable giving (American and Ireland come first and second, with Britain fifth).

What is also particularly interesting in the context of the ongoing debate about immigration and asylum seekers, where Australia's nobler instincts often vie with prejudice and outright racism, is the OECD findings on racial tolerance. The report suggests that only Canada shows more tolerance towards minority groups, which bolsters Australia's claim to being successfully multi-ethnic.

There are blog posts in the pipeline on Australia's current affordability problem, which appears to be making it a less attractive option for Brits in particular and putting pressure on the living standards of Aussies, as well. Over the next week or so, I also want to ask whether Australia has caught the 'Dutch disease,' which is to say: has it become overly reliant on its resources sector?

All overlapping subjects, for sure. But does the OECD report ring true? When it comes to all-round liveability, how safe is Australia's position at the top of the global rankings?

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Just so long as nobody tries to argue the case using happiness/life satisfaction scores. Well-being should be measured but you should do it via quality of life, not metrics that are known to be vulnerable to non-wellbeing related differences in how different cultural groups answer them.

  • Comment number 2.

    Once the government cuts its medical research funding Australian's wont be living longer than those in most other countries. The current government should be investing in the future health of its nation instead of cutting it.

  • Comment number 3.

    There is no doubt that when compared to other parts of the world we have a politically, environmentally and economically stable life. We have elections and the keys to The Lodge are handed over and that's it. Noone calls into question the results and there is no bitterness if you mate voted for the other team. Yeah, we have fires and flood, but these can be mitigated (a debate for another day) earthquakes and tsunamis cannot. And as for the economy? The world is in recession struggling to pay bills and we are debating the big forward thinking issues such as dealing with climate change. I'm sure if life was tougher and we didn't have full employment this wouldn't even rate.

    Things aren't perfect, but they are pretty damn good.

  • Comment number 4.

    The OECD also mentioned that Australia is too "hostile to foreign investment".
    The OECD said there is little reason for international investment to be blocked on anything other than national security grounds. I'll bet that most of the developed world had wished they had designated nefarious financial products emanating from huge American investment firms as a "security" risk.
    The OECD set out a reform agenda for Australia, including tax, infrastructure, workforce participation and improvements to early childhood education.
    It said the country's company and personal tax levels were too high and its GST was too low, etc. etc. etc.
    What a load of bunk. If something works downunder, leave the thing alone! Personally, I like Australia's uniqueness and character.

  • Comment number 5.

    I wonder how many Aboriginals are included in these statistics.
    Aboriginal life expectancies are nothing like the numbers posted above, and I wonder if the 3rd most generous nation gives as freely to it's own.

    Having lived in Oz, I have seen many instances of racial intollerance. Specifically towards Aboriginals, but often towards non-white immigrants.
    The majority Australians desperately want to stop immigration ( especially Asians ) and yet they all have selective memory when it comes to understanding their own origins.
    Why do people who immigrate have to ignore their own heritage and become instant Aussies?

  • Comment number 6.

    From observation it is a self-satisfied country (whether it deserves to be or not). The Australian media has generated an unquestioning belief amongst many Australians that they have a wonderful quality of life and that must affect how people rate their own experience and so the results.

    But what gives a good quality of life is subjective. I moved to Australia from England for several years (for family reasons) and it gave me a very poor quality of life because it wasn't the life I wanted. I've been in England again for a couple of years and life is so, so much better for me. For others it could be the other way around. So these surveys are pretty meaningless.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    @Kiwi Ex Pat...

    Sorry friend, but I'm going to pick on your name as I'm not surprised to hear such a cry from a kiwi...don't get me wrong, I love NZ, Kiwis are good people and you're right, Australia can be a pretty racist place. Similarly the Maori quality of life is much better than the Australian indigenous quality of life so kudos to NZ on that one (or rather kudos to the Maori for asserting a treaty early on). But a lot of kiwis have a mighty chip on their shoulders about their bigger brother, in much the same way as we Aussies do about the U.S, so calling us racist is a pretty handy sledge when you've got nothing else to say.

    In all seriousness, I find it strange though that kiwis fancy NZ has a more open society when if you look at the net immigration rate (rate mind you, not absolute number), Australia's is about 2.5-times that of NZ's and for that matter about three times that of the UK's. In other words, when the NZ department of stats shows you added about 10,000 new immigrants to your population in a year, in Australia we'd do more that that in a month. What's more, people have been arriving in such numbers for about 60 years now...in the face of this, xenophobia is always going to be a reality.
    Want to talk about Asian immigration? Sydney and NZ have similar populations, yet Sydney has about twice as many Asians as all of NZ. And I'd wager Sydney has more Maori these days than most NZ cities outside Auckland.
    Bottom line - perhaps Kiwis' apparently more open attitude toward immigration reflects the fact that like the Irish, you're a nation of emigrants.

  • Comment number 9.

    I lived in Australia for a couple of years, but decided to move back to the UK for serveral reasons i.e. better nightlife, art scene, music scene, football, fashion, easy access to Europe, better beer ;-) etc... Basically I went for the more interesting lifestyle and am much happier for it. I was pretty miserable in Australia, the only thing it had over Britain (in my opinion) was the weather and even that wasn't up to standards a lot of Aussies claim it to be. So you might say since moving back my standard of living has increased considerably. As Job-H pointed out, these surveys are pretty meaningless.

  • Comment number 10.

    Scepticism about statistics aside, it's better to get high marks.

    @4 Bluesberry,

    Agreed,foreign investment is sometimes hostile to Australia.

    @ 8 Kiwi Ex Pat,

    I'd generally agree with RSH, Australian racism is a favorite theme of Kiwis,perhaps thay should reflect on their own society first. I once intended to move to New Zealand so I visited immigrant sites in NZ, based on what's posted there the country has its share of xenophobia and racism, particularly against Asians.

    "The majority of Australians desperately want to stop immigration" --drivel, a majority of Australians want to reduce our very high population growth rate which is straining our infrastructure and institutions to the limit. In context you seem to be implying there's a racist motive behind that sentiment--with some Australians certainly-- but not the majority. I certainly wouldn't support the current rate of immigration,even if it was entirely from my own ethnic group.

    I wouldn't deny that Oz is, possibily, more racist than some other Western nations,however we receive rather too many hypocritical lectures from our neighbours.


  • Comment number 11.

    As a UK expat having lived in Australia for nearly 40yrs,the quality of life here is everything most aussies would agree on ie;

    Enviable standard of living compared to lots of other countries.
    Unique and beautiful environment, our fauna and flora etc;
    Friendly neighbours and mates.

    I could go on, however, when i travel to the UK and spend time there and maybe some other countries in Europe there seems to be a "bustle" it is life, good and bad aspects: its there: on my return everything seems to slow to a full stop, it is not the same: there is conformation: i'm back to same 6:30 whinge current affairs shows on TV, pushing the same old boring subjects. Rugby league,aussie rules,etc;

    Outside of my close family (large) and circle of friends,i am stuck in a rut as for as choices and activities i would like to do. I recently read a comment made by a foriegn journalist who said, quote: "Australia without sport is nothing". Sometimes, i mean, only..sometimes, i tend to agree.

  • Comment number 12.

    “But does the OECD report ring true? When it comes to all-round liveability, how safe is Australia's position at the top of the global rankings?”

    Australia deserves this very favourable ranking. As with any other country, there’s always things to fault but the ultimate proof of its “all-round liveability” is that there are overwhelmingly more people trying to move to Australia than choosing to leave it. As I’ve stated before, I chose to emigrate to Canada from the UK 43 years ago and remain very glad I did so; however, both Australia and New Zealand would have been good second choices. Many Brits have chosen to move to places like France, Spain and Portugal but most of these are comfortably-off retirees. When it comes to working, living and raising a family, then the overwhelming choices are Canada, Australia and NZ. How people vote with their feet is usually a very good indicator.

    As to Australia’s faults, well those are debated at great length in other blogs. In this instance, it’s more appropriate just to give the country two-thumbs-up.

  • Comment number 13.

    Australia’s place at the top of the rankings is very safe. Because Australia is safe. In every sense of the word. Safe scores well for the OECD and similar surveys. Safe is great if you are raising a family here. Not so great if you like a bit of variation in life. Bland might be another word to describe it. Like the beer. And Australian suburbia. Being safe or bland is fine. It’s not damaging to health or anything like that. I feel very safe here and I love my house, my neighbours, my job, my workmates and the weather. But there’s no denying it is a backwater and every now and then I yearn for London and to remember what it was like to feel really alive.

  • Comment number 14.

    Nick's gone ahead and thrown the "chum" in the water and the "sharks" have duly bitten. The chum being the suggestion that Australia is one of the best places to live and sharks being the whingers who can't help themselves denigrating such a suggestion.

    It's funny when a place being safe is seen as a drawback. If this is true I expect Jack_Randa goes to Afghanistan for his holidays. I guess he doesn't "feel really alive" unless he's in the middle of an English riot about education cuts or whatever. It's also amusing when a large number of his countrymen don't like Australia because it's too dangerous i.e. they don't like snakes, spiders, crocs, floods, and fires. Then you have the others who don't like it because it's too safe. It's clear the whinging pom is alive and well.

  • Comment number 15.

    I can certainly echo some of the sentiments of Pride of London, Emps and Jack_Randa, being as I am someone who loved living in Australia for a number of years but is now back in the UK (through choice!).
    It's certainly true that in some ways Australia offers an easy place to live. In Brisbane we never felt cold, the city had excellent amenities and travelling around was relatively easy. There was also the feeling of safety that must be so attractive to families. But it's also true that there are drawbacks to the weather, lack of variety, social scene, and it all comes down to personal preference.

    Overall, if you're lucky enough to be doing a job you like (or at least are rewarded appropriately for) and you live somewhere safe and warm then you are doing very well. If Australia is providing that for a high percentage of its population then it deserves its position.

    Sydneycynic, please do stop your chip on the shoulder whinging and ridiculous national stereotyping. I think yours is the only Aussie comment so far on this thread that lets your nation down.

  • Comment number 16.

    14 @sydneycynic wrote:

    It's also amusing when a large number of his countrymen don't like Australia because it's too dangerous i.e. they don't like snakes, spiders, crocs, floods, and fires.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    You especially are kidding yourself if you think that is the reason they don't like Australia.

    "chum" in the water and the "sharks" have duly bitten. LOL.

    It's clear the whinging pom is alive and well.
    -------------------------------------------------------

    Never heard the first phrase, but its obviously an ockerism same as the "whinging Pom". I am sure there are colourful phrases expressing the same sentiment, but unlike the Poms who would no doubt find lots more than one, this is repeated parrot fashion over and over whenever a Brit makes even the slightest point of difference
    between the respective lifestyles.




  • Comment number 17.

    emps & pcii, anyone can make any comment they like and I have the right to respond. If somebody says they like they're job, their house and their neighbourhood I happen to think they should "feel really alive". If, on the other hand, they still feel they're not really alive, then they qualify as a "whinger". I suppose I'm different to emps when he says I take offence to anyone pointing out the "slightest point of difference between the respective lifestyles". When somebody, with no anecdotal evidence, compares the Australian lifestyle to some type of near death experience, I happen to think this is more than a "slight difference in respective lifestyles".

  • Comment number 18.

    Cynic, I stand corrected, please feel free to carry on with the whinging, from where I'm sitting it does you no good.

    Two questions:
    "I suppose I'm different to emps when he says I take offence to anyone pointing out the "slightest point of difference between the respective lifestyles"" What does this statement actually mean? Are you saying you don't take offence? Because that's plainly not true.

    And, how do you equate someone living Australia for nearly 40 years with having "no anecdotal evidence"?

  • Comment number 19.

    pcii, I challenge the idea that I am reacting to slight points of difference. I don't believe the idea of having to live somewhere else in order to "really feel alive" is "slight". I kind of take offence at this suggestion but this is tempered by the fact that the assessment is patently wrong. You know what they say, i.e. "the truth hurts". Well, this isn't true so I can't be too offended.

    May be pcii's idea of anecdotal evidence is different to mine. Just living in a place doesn't add up to anecdotal evidence. This has to be accompanied by experiences which have been had during the aforementioned 40 years. By the way, saying "life is as boring as the beer", doesn't cut it. Better still, these experiences should be accompanied by alternate experiences which supports the argument that England is the excitement machine so often referred to by parochial englishmen/women. If I was to whinge about life in England, which I haven't, I would feel obligated to put forward some type of cogent argument.

    I really shouldn't have to explain to pcii how to frame an argument. I'm offended by the need to have to explain the bleedin' obvious. Mind you, Australia's Monash University recently wiped the floor with Oxford University students at the world debating competition. You see, if the subject at hand was Australia's superior education system, this would be used by me as "anecdotal evidence".

  • Comment number 20.

    What's all this talk of 'anecdotal evidence'? I imagine the clever chaps at Monash University would smile kindly and show the door to anyone who attempted to engage the opposition with spurious personal experiences. Anecdotal evidence is no evidence.

    However, statistics are evidence and I am always amused by the self-satisfied proclamations by Australians about Australia being the safest country on Earth. I believe it to be another example of the story they are sold and continue to peddle. Indeed so ingrained is it in many of their psyches the reaction when someone disagrees is regularly highly defensive and often downright aggressive.

    According to Nationmaster, per capita, Australia ranks:
    43rd in terms of murders (3 places above the UK)
    27th in terms of 'death by firearms' (5 places above the UK)
    a staggering 3rd in terms of rapes committed (10 places above the UK)
    10th in terms of assaults (2 places behind the UK)

    So congratulate yourselves all you like about living in a wonderful safe place but be assured the stats don't back up your self-satisfied position one bit.

  • Comment number 21.

    Thanks sterling222. It's your countrymen who don't like Australia because it's too "safe". Seeing it's coming from you there is hope their criticism of Australia for being too safe will be seen as nothing more than spurious criticism.

    Nationmaster does make interesting reading. I didn't know Australia came 73rd in the number of prisoners per capita. The UK doesn't even come in the first 154. It must come in behind Zimbabwe at 154 who are reported as having no prisoners, "staggering". Nationmaster says the UK comes in at 6 for total crimes per capita and Australia doesn't even come in the top 60, "staggering". Mind you, the UK isn't as bad as New Zealand as it comes in second for per capita crimes, "staggering". I never realised New Zealand was such a hell hole. I could go on about Australia having more police per capita compared to the UK and this may affect the crime rates. I must say, with such a low overall crime rate, I don't know what they're doing. We'd better go and send them to New Zealand. Keep coming up with statistics sterling222. It's been a real eye opener.

  • Comment number 22.

    @20 Stirling, I will congratulate myself on living in a safe country thank you, because Australia is by and large a safe place, and who's being self satisfied?

    If you are determined to paint a nation in the worst possible light anyone can come up with stastics to support their beliefs:

    The UK tops Australia by a long margin in Drug Crime (2nd), Fraud (2nd), Robberies (8th), and Total Crimes per capita (6th). The Kiwi's are over-represented in these statistics as well.

    However none of these hideous statistics are truly representative of the UK, Australia and New Zealand, after all its all about quality of life.

    @Sydneycynic you can't argue with people for calmly and fairly stating their reasons for Australia just not suiting them after all its from their point of view. What has Monash Uni beating Oxford got to do with anything? I'm born and bred in Australia I love it and to me its the best place in the world, but I can understand how its not for everyone.

    Many of the views here are Euro-centric and if your looking for a Euro-centric life Australia just can't compare but we have other things. We're no better or worse just different.

    I'm personal believer that you get from an experience what you put into, at least thats how it's been for me, if you go somewhere expecting more of the same or complaining about how everything is sooo much better we're you've come from well you're going to be disappointed aren't you?

  • Comment number 23.

    I hope Australia keeps letting everybody in then you can be like the UK,USA or France where a large part o your population do not speak your language,cost your country billions in health care and education.I will be interested to see how tolerant everyone is then.

  • Comment number 24.

    #20
    You are obviously a bitter brit,England must as good at skewing statistics as they are at beating down their population with taxes and propaganda.

  • Comment number 25.

    Regardless of what the statistics indicate (and if you can believe in them), if you are not happy living in Australia, then you have the choice to leave. No one is holding you back.

    @Pride of London mentioned one of the advantages of living in the UK is "easy access to Europe", you're totally correct!

    Living in Europe (and the UK), this would have to be the big advantage. I can get on Thalys and be in Paris in 1 hour and 15 minutes, and do you know how often do I get to do that? I can tell you NOT very often. In Europe, I also have to bear the boring evening current affairs shows carrying on about football. Lately, it has been the royal wedding. bla bla bla. The truth is; there is the routine of life that we are all subjected to, no matter where we live. And someone mentioned the beers? If you're talking to the Belgians, they will tell you differently about English beers….. So if you want to live somewhere where the thought of “easy access to Europe” is a priority, by all means, do so. For me, I prefer the excitement of planning a long trip to Europe, and then experiencing it. But not having to endure the daily grind or the ‘bustle’ of life as someone put it. Because the ‘bustle’ of life can mean an over crowded transport system, limited public services etc… Give me the boring Aussie suburbia any day, where I can run free with my pets in my garden and enjoy a warm evening with family, friends and neighbours over a barbie.

    EMPS said "a foreign journalist who said, quote: "Australia without sport is nothing". I am an Australian, and I happen not to like sports that much. Is this journalist implying that people like me are nothing? I'd like to know who and where this journalist came from.

    The truth is, when someone lives as an expat outside his/her country, there will always be some romanticising of the home country. I am guilty of this at times.

    I don’t like a lot of the changes that has been taking place in Australia during the last 10 years, but having lived and worked in 4 other countries in the EU, Asia and yes, also in London, I have to say Australia is still pretty darn good.

    What I am shocked and most concerned about is that we have people who lived in AUS for a long, long period of time, and still not think of themselves as Australians. They have enjoyed our lifestyle, our system, along with our good weather ;-) etc…. and yet they do not seem to show any kind loyalty to Australia. Immigration should not be about whether we should let people in / or not let people in because they are white, black, green or red, wearing a turban or a scarf. Immigration should be about getting the ‘right’ people into Australia so that they can contribute positively to the country and become part of the community, at a rate that is manageable.

  • Comment number 26.

    Sorry Sydneycynic, you can challenge someone's attitude but there's no point in challenging someone's personal preferences.

    And I'm with the whingers on this one:
    Britain is a culturally bustling exchange with lots going on while Australia is an end of the line town in this regard. Talking about self-satisfaction few countries are as self-satisfied as Britain when it comes to things such as the arts, culture, history and intellectual pursuits and they have every reason to be. London is a fantastic place to immerse yourself in museums, theater, music, galleries etc. And yes, I'll take their beer and pubs over ours (on the food and coffee scene though, Australia loses nothing to Britain but that's just my opinion.)

    And I also suspect it has a lot to do with where home is as much as anything else...and just as Aussies abroad will relish the thought of their grand outdoors smorgasbord and sunshine our country offers, so too will Brits abroad dream of their more cerebral proclivities, that they can so easily indulge in back home.

    That said, to quote Harvey Danger "if you're bored then you're boring"...you've got to play any new environment to its strengths and work around the shortcomings. If you can't live without going to a West End show once a week then for heaven's sake don't leave London and spare the rest of world the unwanted noise...that's just good manners. And I say the same thing to my Aussie compatriots in the UK who moan about the weather and think all castles and cathedrals look the same...if you don't love history then you're missing half the fun of being in Britain.

  • Comment number 27.

    #22 "I will congratulate myself on living in a safe country thank you, because Australia is by and large a safe place, and who's being self satisfied?"

    Um.... Hey, that's great Doom. I'm dead chuffed you're pleased with yourself. All the best to you, mate.

    #24 "You are obviously a bitter brit,England must as good at skewing statistics"

    Care to justify this statement, Crasher? In what way does contributing statistics thoroughly in keeping with the topic of the blog represent the input of an obviously 'bitter Brit'? Can you also explain how you arrived at the conclusion that I am responsible for skewing the stats?

    Btw to anyone reading your rather asinine contribution it is immediately clear where the bitterness resides.

  • Comment number 28.

    I'd also advise some caution in regard to quoting statistics, there are surprising differences in the way different nations gather data and define the appropriate parameters.

    I'd also be interested to know what percentage of Europeans and Americans actually go to the opera, visit museums or engage in sophisticated intellectual discourse compared with citizens of Australia.

  • Comment number 29.

    @27 Thank you Stirling I'm glad that you're chuffed for me in my self-satisfaction, because I do so enjoy giving ridiculous answers to ridiculous statements. After all we all know the absolute inviolable credibility of statistics.

    Note to self: Must get a chastity belt to protect my self from the roving gangs of rapists, and can't forget a bullet proof jacket on account of all the gun violence I'm constantly being subject to....................................... Oh and tell friends and family not to visit the UK they're all a bunch of druggie fraudsters over there who'll rob ya blind :).

  • Comment number 30.

    Nobody has ever accused me of discouraging Brits from exiting Australia but I must ask whether some of the commentators here have ever considered why the UK has such a huge diaspora ( well the Indian ,Chinese and Mexican diasporas are pretty large too but I'd say the Brits are right up there ) No doubt that hustle and edginess does give a certain frisson when you're at a certain time of life (although I think the US does this better ) but then BBC blog commentators are in no way typical of the masses are we ? I suspect ( well in fact I know ) that most people have families jobs and hobbys that monopolise their time and attention and seek a situation which gives them priority .. Australia is good for that.

  • Comment number 31.

    There's some good balanced comments on this thread, that for example, point out that life in Aussie suburbia, along with a good job and a secure economy will be for many people an extremely sound bedrock on which to build their lifestyle. I can certainly appreciate that point of view.

    If only Mr/Mrs Synic could take his or her blinkers off. Despite the futility of it, I feel compelled to ask how they believe that someone could gather 40 years of experience without picking up "anecdotal evidence"? If you're looking score points why not concentrate on the fact that Emps (despite a preference for a bit of buzz in their life) appears to have settled on Australia? Can Synic even accept that others might hold a point of view in which aspects of Australia are inferior to other countries and that those views are equally valid? Incidentally, I'd hate to see what happens when you really do start whinging about the English!

    It's an interesting point that Lance makes about loyalty to a country from long-term immigrants (especially in light of recent multicultural comments by senior politicians). My own shortish stint probably isn't long enough to be sure on this one, though I can sympathize with what Lance would like to see from immigration policy. The problem is that Australia (in common with most other countries) doesn't select people on their love/willingness to integrate, it selects based on skills. That can certainly lead to immigrants feeling like they are a commodity rather than a citizen (a commodity that is more than paying its own way through taxes and economic activity). That's not a recipe for integration, at least in the short term.

  • Comment number 32.

    Through my lifetime, which represents about 40% of the time since Federation, I have seen the nation grow and the chippy attitudes to any criticism seem like relics from the 1970s. Australia is a first order resources power and as the wealth has grown the profile in the world has risen. This WILL draw attention and, yes questions from overseas about Australia's roles, particularly militarily and economically. Australians are no longer the outsiders or rebels who can sit on the edge and expect to say what they like about the rest. With maturity has come responsibility.
    By the way, decent beer can be tracked down in Australia with a bit of effort but take plenty of money.

  • Comment number 33.

    "By the way, decent beer can be tracked down in Australia with a bit of effort but take plenty of money."
    Very true. The James Squires range is pretty good and quite easily availble. However, try any Kiwi supermarket and you'll find about 6 times the choice.

  • Comment number 34.

    @ The BoganPimpernal

    To claim that the brits have a high diaspora is a very unreliable statement. Im an Australian and having studied much of the world migration statistivcs i can assure you that many countries have a large number of people living abroad,no matter their wealth. Germany and Canada for example have diaspora's ranging to about 12% each,and even though Canada has less people abroad that the Germans,2.8 million out of its population of indeginous Canadians,22% of Canada is made from immigrants,is very high. Britain has an 8% diaspora but that has gone down in recent times due to the collapse of both the USA and Spain. Australia,despite being a lucky country as such,has a 5% diaspora,and that is quite high. Please remember that many Brits i know who live in Australia only live here for job oppurtunities,and most once the economy improves say they would consider moving back. I agree with RSH completley though,Australia shouldnt even bother to try and compare itself with the UK in terms of history and culture,it knocks Australia for six. The Castles,Museums,Catherdrals,Heritage sites and mystical,beautiful landscapes are hard to beat,and certainly rival Australia's landscapes in my opinion. The weather is also no where as bad as people think. I have lived here for 3 years and it can get very warm and there's nothing better than walking down Durham's gorgeous cobbled streets (where i live) on a warm day and be greeted by strangers. I never got that in Canberra. In conclusion i never listen to these stats,so many have been printed and so many contradict themselves,life is what you make it. Im very happy in the U.K and ive seen no difference in my standard of living since moving here,its stayed the same. Both nations should consider themselves lucky,we are both rich and prosperous.and no matter how much we both whinge,stop for a moment and think of those living in Africa,and realise just how lucky we both are.

  • Comment number 35.

    Re #29

    Alright alright Doom, no need to get defensive and aggressive*

    I considered the statistics to be relevant to the blog, don't you? Perhaps you could explain to me which part of my post you find so ridiculous? Is it the bit you didn't like reading by any chance?

    Yet again any post contradicting the general consensus among Australians here is attacked and ridiculed. Not exactly slick debating tactics so much as playground style bickering.

    *See: #20

  • Comment number 36.

    Stirling222 i was not accusing you personally of skewing the crime stats,what i was saying was i believe the British government is twisting the figures.When i go home to England i am horrified by all the cctv cameras every where it reminds me of some kind of George Orwell novel.
    As for my asinine comments i live in the real world,and in today's world where the majority must always adjust their behavior to avoid offending some group of people no matter how strange their actions are,i am hence not a big fan of modern multi-culture,where by if you are white you should always apologize for your history.

  • Comment number 37.

    Lots of bile being spewed here by, who else, the British (read that as English) commentators.

    I'm not surprised. It's considered quintessentially English to knock anything and everything off its perch. I have to wonder if the lifestyle of England were being favorably discussed if the English would be just as apt to knock it too.

    Anyways, let's move on. Why do so many Euros insist that living in some European country is the greatest because it's "easy access to Europe"? If I lived in Nigeria, I'd have easy access to Africa, if I lived in Korea, I'd have easy access to Asia, if I . . . well you get my point right? For some strange reason living in Europe is supposed to be some paradise that simply can't be beat by living elsewhere because, why else, it's easy access to all things European. Really strange.

    And what's with the belief that Europe is THE place for all things cerebral? I'll give it the beautiful castles, EUROPEAN achitecture, EUROPEAN history, etc., but what exactly makes these things better and more cerebral than say visiting places in Japan, studying the history of the Middle East, or Canada? In my opinion, every country on this planet has something to offer and it would be better if we stopped this "mine is bigger than yours" silliness.

    Let's have intelligent debate shall we?

  • Comment number 38.

    To Sam M;

  • Comment number 39.

    kcwhattrick, where's the bile? Please elaborate.

  • Comment number 40.

    Thanks pcii for the recommendation with regards to buying a wide range of beers in New Zealand. You must be braver than me going to New Zealand. Aren't you aware of the crime wave gripping New Zealand. This was raised in response to sterling's latest statistical contribution. This information came to light in relation to his rebuttal of his countrymen's suggestion that Australia was safe. When you next travel you might want to travel to somewhere like Mexico or Bolivia. According to sterling's statistician these places are a lot safer.

  • Comment number 41.

    Thanks Sydnic, I'm beginning to understand your posts now. It appears you see a completely different version of this page to I.
    Probably why you missed the question in post #31

  • Comment number 42.

    To pciii: It seems to me that whenever a country other than England (or a European one) is lauded for one characteristic or other, the bile starts spilling. I dont' know why this is. Is it really hard to recognize that one country (Australia) may be able to teach us something that may be lacking in our own?

    And this seems to be prevalent (but not limited) to Europeans. Had it been shown that Sweden or Italy actually had the characteristics listed in Nick's commentary, I doubt many Europeans would have jumped in ready to knock his views apart. More than likely it would have been used as yet another example of Europe's superiority. Yet when it comes to Australia, well here comes Stirling and company, guns blazing.

    And I see it didn't take long for some to immediately drag out that tired old cliche of Australia (I'm surprised they didn't throw the US and Canada in there too for good measure) being miles behind the UK in terms of history, culture, castles, museums etc. It does get a bit tiring for those of us who don't hold Europe on a pedestal to constantly have EVERYTHING judged by European standards and be consistently deemed "beneath/inferior" for it. :-(

    I say good on Australia for anything that makes them happier/healthier/etc. than other countries. I don't have a problem thinking my country could definitely learn from them at all.

  • Comment number 43.

    What happened to my comment #38?????? It's gone. :-(

  • Comment number 44.

    KC, the comments sometimes behave quite strangely, as for your missing 38.
    I can agree that there is tendency to place Europe on a high pedestal (and that applies when comparing it to the UK, which for me is part of Europe anyway!).

    I'd disagree with you on the Australia dissing you seem to have picked up on with this thread though. The tone to me seemed to be Nick proffering the now widely accepted view that Australia offers a great lifestyle, and inviting comments on this. Pretty much everyone has agreed that it's a great place to live but some (mainly those who have lived there) have offered some reasons why they would rate other places above it in certain respects. As soon as those reasons were offered, some posters pipe up and accuse others of whinging (the same posters are most indignant when their own views are questioned, indignant note, not whinging themselves)

  • Comment number 45.

    In case anyone is beginning to smell a rat, I promise you I do not use the pseudonym 'sydneycynic' as a means of illustrating my points.

    As I mentioned in post #20 there are too many like this fellow who cannot discuss Australia without becoming aggressively defensive. I find it best to offer a metaphorical ruffle of the hair and take an 'attaboy, you keep doing your best, kidda' style of approach with him.

    KCW what a lovely surprise. In case it had escaped your attention this article is about Australia and statistics. I brought to the discussion statistics that have come from Australia itself that show that Australian society is not as safe as is regularly claimed by its citizens. If I had merely written 'actually your murder and rape rates are comparatively high' there would've been a queue of irate posters wanting to slap me down. I am still waiting for someone with an IQ over 60 to discuss them. Seems when presented with evidence that doesn't suit them, the Aussies on here prefer to stick their fingers in their ears and sing 'I love my country, I love my country'.

    By the way, coming from an American, your wee shpeel about how Europeans refuse to learn from the rest of the world is a wonderful example of truly surreal comedy.

  • Comment number 46.

    You all seem to have wildly different views of my country but I like it; I'm well off; I'm healthy and I enjoy being Australian; I'm free. Nothing else matters to me!

 

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