Is the Australian work ethic long gone?

Last week I was sitting with one of my relatives discussing what he was doing for work. As a single man in his mid 40s (lucky him!) he is working on a mine site in Queensland as a fly in, fly out electrician. Now, we often discuss how Australians don’t work as hard as they once did and the meaning of hard work, dedication and commitment is lost on the younger generations but I hadn’t stopped to think about it like this. And quite frankly, I’m disappointed.

Jim works with a team of men including two young blokes in their 20s. Recently, they were discussing how disgruntled they are that so many foreign investors, mainly from Asia, are buying Australian mining rights, setting up facilities and then bringing over their own employees, from their own countries, to work for them. He also said that these men had no trouble blaming the current government for this.

This is a fair argument – I am all for Australian workers being employed in Australia, but it was what Jim told me next that made me disappointed. Jim shared that in an average day, Thomas (one of the 20 year olds who was complaining) will spend 1 hour filling up his water bottle, putting on his safety gear and “getting ready” to start the day after he is already on site on the clock. Then he’ll decide it is smoko time so there goes another two hours out of the paid workday. Then when he’s back he will decide to move the equipment around for another hour or two. Lunchtime then rolls around. He will finally do an hour of work and then he’s off the clock and back to the dongas he goes.

This is why I am disappointed. The fact he does the minimum possible work and that he watches his team work hard but can’t be bothered himself aren’t the worst reasons. It is because he complains about the foreign workers coming to take “his job” when the reality is that he doesn’t even do “his job” and he can’t see the need to reflect on himself and his own behaviours.

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These are men who are on close to $200,000 – they are the upper class Australians, they earn more than most of the country yet they have a sense of entitlement and I don’t think they even realise that their blame shifting on the government is so wrong.

Australian labour is expensive – we all know that. And for a foreign investor that is fine, if the work done for that money is fair and just. The point here is that it is not. They are throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars away on unproductive work every year and this is a sad fact of Australia.

We are a nation that prides ourselves on hard work, commitment and dedication, but that seems to be lost on the younger generations. In both of the world wars, Australian soldiers were renowned for their courage and commitment. Our drovers are renowned for the hard work they do for months on end. Even we, the baby boomers of Australia know what it is like to work day in and day out for a living.

It is so sad that the changing work force of Australia is our own fault. The changing reputation of Australia is our own fault. The changing culture of Australia is our own fault. But the Australians who are making these changes happen, don’t even realise it.

Tell us, does it make you sad that the Australian “hard work” culture is slowly fading away? Is the sense of entitlement of younger generations stopping Australians from carrying on our national reputation?