I spent a couple of years in Brisbane. It and Australia offer a fantastic life to people with good jobs, and the wages for a lot of jobs there are better than you can get in the UK now. Queensland is almost eight times bigger than the UK. It has a smaller population than Scotland and it looks like most of it's about to be dug up for minerals to send to China - hence the demand for engineers.
Western Australia's even bigger - about 11 times the size of the UK and it's being dug up even more than Queensland!
Try and get your son to head for Western Australia in preference to Queensland. If you're going out to see him in their summer, dodging our winter ;-), the dryer heat in WA is more pleasant than the stickier heat on the coast of Queensland.
Seriously, the opportunities in Australia and Canada, because they have commodities the Chinese are buying, dwarf the opportunities in the UK just now. And they're not saddled with crippling public debt. I see Jim Rogers is saying today he still thinks there's nothing worth investing in in the UK. What was that Proclaimers song again about a letter from America?
"Rights issues are undertaken by companies who wish to raise capital. Companies often choose to do this when their debt to equity ratio has grown too high. The injection of fresh money increases company equity."
In other words, the PRU's purchase of AIA was going to run their debt-to-equity ratio up to a unacceptable level. Quite simply they were not going to get enough equity when they bought AIA to compensate for the debt they were taking on. Hardly the most attractive of business transactions! I'm surprised it got as far as it did before sanity prevailed. Mind you, as you pointed out Robert, the cost of the insanity has been £450 million in fees. Someone's smiling, even if it isn't the shareholders.
Looked at from the perspective of a number of my Asian friends in the city the population density in SE Queensland is very sparse and there should be huge scope for population growth. Westerners, on the other hand often see a city that is growing too fast - Queensland has the highest per capita population growth in Australia.
The practical consideration is water. When I was in Brisbane just two or three years ago, it came within 12 months of a possible evacuation as a result of drought and there simply being too little water for people to drink. Thankfully the dam levels are healthier again now. If, however, Brisbane's population had grown to about 4 million as per Sydney or Melbourne, a large scale evacuation would have been necessary because water consumption would have been so much higher and the water supply would have dried up.
If Australia is going to be plagued by droughts, notwithstanding the current trend of building wind-powered desalination plants to extract fresh water from the sea, the prospects for large scale population growth must be taken with a pinch of salt.