I love my country and am incredibly proud of all its achievements, but at the same time I am bewildered and confused at the incredible differences in living standards of it citizens.
This is the tale of two families known to me. Both have a Father in full-time employment, a Mother working three days a week and a child who will start school in the near future.
Both sets of parents were brought up in middle-income families in similar suburbs. Both sets of parent work similar long hours. Both sets of parents left school in year 12. Both came from the same neighbourhood, and both are hard working and focused. That is where the similarities end.
One family has every luxury possible, their own home in a prized area, several highly priced cars, several investment properties and enjoy holidays several times a year. Both parents in this family worked long hours to put themselves through many long years at University and then for many years afterwards worked around the clock to become established.
The other family have very little luxuries, the chance that they will ever own their own home is non-existent, their single car is, to put it mildly, a bomb and there are certainly no holidays on the horizon. Neither parent in this family attended university but worked very hard at their respective unskilled jobs. One family is enjoying life; the other is struggling to survive.
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If one family were to lose their jobs tomorrow, it would not be a disaster just an inconvenience; it would be catastrophic. It is apparent that the only difference between these two families is a university education. It used to be in Australia that if you could secure a trade apprenticeship as a school leaver, you stood the same chance as a university educated person of being able to have your own home, a reasonable car and savings for a rainy day.
How has this vast financial chasm crept in? It seems to have happened without anyone really noticing. Were our politicians and lawmakers asleep at the wheel? Where were the trade unions who are supposed to protect the more vulnerable citizens? Was everyone so wrapped up in their infighting and power struggles that they have lost sight of what they are being paid to do?
We wonder why the rise of populism is so rampant in today’s world, I guess that if you live on a daily basis knowing that at any time you are only two pay cheques away from disaster, and you see a former classmate living a life you can only dream about, when someone comes along and promises you the same, then it is not surprising that they assume of guise of saviour.
It almost seems like there are two parallel countries called Australia and absolutely no possible bridge between them.