When you think back to the Australia of your childhood, has it changed much? Is the country we live in today as good as or better than the one from 40 or 50 years ago?
For many Aussies, the answer is no.
Society has changed a lot since then and along with it so have many of our laws and customs. While there have been some wonderful and much-needed advancements, like women’s and Indigenous rights, other things haven’t faired so well.
The housing market is driving out millions of buyers, the cost of living has gone up, and as many over 60s are struggling to keep up.
Political correctness is also on the rise, with many baby boomers flummoxed by the amount of ‘over-sensitivity’ flying around out there. Over the past few years there have been calls to ban golliwog dolls, enlist a female James Bond for the next movie, unisex toilets around the country and a number of other calls that have left over 60s scratching their heads.
To top it all off the government now has more influence than ever over our lives, with new taxes and new abilities to ‘watch’ our every move.
It seems that the attitude of many Aussies has changed too, with many accused of calling on the government to ‘fix every little problem’ people have.
Earlier this week, this tendency left one man in particular outraged. Agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce nearly flipped his lid when the Gratton Institute called for a tax on sugary drinks, saying the government wasn’t responsible for peoples’ weight and claiming it would put a strain on the country’s entire sugar industry.
“If you want to deal with being overweight, here’s a suggestion: stop eating so much and do a bit of exercise,” Mr Joyce said.
“This is one of these suggestions right from the start we always thought was bonkers mad but now it’s getting more and more momentum so we have to say, ‘We are not going to be supporting a sugar tax’.”
“Take responsibility for yourself; the Australian Taxation Office is not going to save you.
“The ATO is not a better solution than jumping in the pool and going for a swim.
“I believe in the freedom of the individual … We the government are not going to moralise about what you take out of the fridge.”
While Mr Joyce has had his critics in the past, his comments drew a wave of support from people saying they are sick of people assuming the government with pull them out of trouble and that people need to stand on their own two feet.
Around 50 per cent of Australian households receive welfare payments, with that number expected to grow as the population continues to age, so are we taking more than our fair share or are these ‘handouts’ needed?
That’s the cry coming from many Aussies who think as a nation we’ve become afraid of digging deep and getting our hands dirty to help ourselves.
On the other side of the fence those are those who say the current economic state and jobs market means that mean that many people have no choice but to relay on welfare payments and government help.
Unfortunately, many pensioners are stuck in this boat as they find it difficult to secure work once they reach a certain age and are left with depleted super accounts.
So where should the line be drawn and do we need to make a change?