Posts Tagged ‘Government’

Our ‘own’ home.

May 26, 2017

When we say we own our own home it means just that. We own the title to our home. This means we can sell it, and profit/lose from it. We too bought our own home with our own earned money. Years ago, it used to mean that you had a roof over your head and ‘owning’ had a different meaning. Many people would probably add that owning own home is one of their best investments. I remember being swept up in Australia after our arrival, whereby ownership of home was seen as a main goal. A dream.  It is still looked upon as a major achievement in life. During the nineteen fifties till now,  urgings by many to strife for home ownership reached almost religious proportions. Halve the newspapers used to consist of advertisements for buying and selling homes.

People gathered around the garlic- prawns getting grilled on wood- barbeques and spoke of magic real estate deals. Legendary tales were told by jolly men about unimaginable profits  made on selling properties that had sky-rocketed to much higher prices. Parties would rocket as well by  tales of real estate with empty two litre casks of Coolabah-chardonnay littering next morning  with redolent empty prawn shells. If you let it be known you were an ‘own homer’ your status gained enormous. Women would flock around, easy to date. They too were drawn to Homer.

My dad had much trouble understanding this. In Holland at that time ( 1956) owning own home was unheard of and totally unnecessary. Housing was supplied by Councils or Governments and generally leased for life. Even today home ownership in Holland is about 50% of the adult population. There was a period, compliments of WW2 and carpet-bombings, that an acute shortage existed of available housing. Thanks to the US generous Marshall Plan that Europe was given after the war the housing shortage was soon overcome.  Even so, tens of thousands were drawn to migrate to other shores, especially Canada and Australia. One of the attractions that were being dangled before future migrants’ eyes was the prospect of own home on own block with own bathroom in far away countries. Australia was magic. Colour footage was shown of ‘home owners standing on own lawn in front of own house.’ Those white picket fences, the gloriousness of it all.

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My parents with ‘own home.’

My mother was especially attracted to own bathroom. Back in Holland we had a galvanised tub with handles to bath in. My mother would boil water on a gas stove. I was lucky  being the second eldest and by and large enjoyed a nice warm bath. However my brother Adrian who was nr 5 in the line of ascendency had tepid and scungy greasy well used water. That’s how it was.

Now the real estate has been so magically successful that hardly anyone can afford it. Many flock to the major cities. That’s why cities are formed. The majority like living in close proximity of each other. The prices are astronomical. A million dollars gets you a bare two bedroom un-renovated almost derelict cottage or a liveable home-unit. Most young couples have given up.

The dream is now a nightmare.

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The ‘Bespoke’ permanent Australian residency test

April 26, 2017
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Bottle

With our daughter being on the ‘cusp’ of buying a three bedroom unit closer to Sydney town, I was intrigued by a new word that seems to have caught the world by storm. It is the word ‘BESPOKE.’ Readers might well remember we were all on the edge of our seats some years ago, when our Government was urging their ministers to find  ‘new paradigms’. This soon spilled over to the voters. As is the wont of most Governments, the task and responsibility of finding the new paradigms was shifted to us. It wasn’t finding just any old paradigm, no it had to be the latest version. It made us all a bit nervous at first, but soon put shoulders under the task looking for our special new paradigm.

During or perhaps shortly after those revelational urgings many also took to forever being on the ‘cusp’ of something. It did not really matter what it was. As long as we were on the ‘cusp’ of something we were on solid ground. Helvi and I used to sit around sipping our coffee while looking for new paradigms, and hovering around being on the ‘cusp’ of something or other. I remember distinctly being on the cusp of buying our new lithium battery powered cordless vacuum cleaner an hour or so before we actually took off to buy one. We deliberately waited in order to prove our ‘cusping.’ Of course, naming our newly acquired vacuum machine a new paradigm might be pushing credibility a bit too far.

Getting back to the business of ‘bespoke’. It all came about when reading the Real Estate Agents’ lofty appraisal of trying to sell this home-unit to our daughter. They provided a lengthy list of the usual mouth watering morsels to attract the potential and often gullible buyer. It had three bedrooms, all with blinds and insect screens, a ‘media’ room and ‘European’ appliances. The word European is like honey to those on the hunt for living space.  It seems at odds with our Prime Minister’s urging us to stand firm on our national identity and hail all that is uniquely Australian. Are we all at risk of losing our permanent residency status if we buy a European stove?

But, what really floored me was that the European 5 burner cooktop had a ‘bespoke’ wok. A bespoke wok? Of course some decades ago Dad was most circumspect of real estate agents. Why are they called ‘real’ he mused, while blowing out his Douwe Egbert’s tobacco infused ringlets of smoke. ‘Infused’ is now on the wane, folks. We are getting some respite. You can all take a rest. None too late. It is hard work keeping up.

Nice dad, he was. I remember him well. He would never look for paradigms or bespoke woks.

 

 

The Mobility Scooter looms for millions.

October 9, 2016

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You know that when the birth rate drops below replacements, we oldies are all going to suffer. Even Catholic Italy, which used to pride itself on breeding like rabbits are now not replacing its citizens fast enough to replace the dying. In Australia we still have a healthy intake of migrants, but even here the ageing population is putting a strain on almost all services. I wonder who will visit me when placed in a care-home? In Holland they have already introduced a form of visiting the elderly by harnessing school kids in volunteering to visit the lonely oldies staring wishfully behind their ‘updated’ aged-care windows. I am not sure I would welcome a know-all eleven year old to visit me. It could be boring.

In Holland too, they now try and ‘update’ elderly care which in many cases means less staff and heightening the bar for entry into an ‘aged care facility.’ One has almost has to have one foot in the grave or half-way into the crematorium-oven before a place might be found into an old age home. By that stage, most elderly have exhausted their savings and the kids inheritance. Fat chance now of cranky kids visiting Grandpa sipping his weak tea! This is why more and more old people are encouraged to keep going without needing ‘updated care’ in the horrors of an Anglican ‘Eventide’ facility.

I suppose, my own ‘Government initiated Health Assessment’ is one effort to keep me on my toes as long as possible. Strange, that Helvi has not received that request! Perhaps women stay healthy longer? This explains that old age homes feature mainly women. It must be very challenging for an old man to be surrounded by mainly elderly women and their never ending talk of ailments, the weather or food. 😉 Smiley!

One of the advances made in keeping us mobile is not just to keep on walking but also the availability of the mobility scooter. More and more seem to prop up. I believe one has to be in need of one of those before one can get one. Are they licensed or does one need to get a test done? With many an elderly person slowing down and reacting more slowly, I wonder if accidents occur? With two of those coming from opposing directions will the footpaths need widening. What about in super-markets? Do they fit in between the turnstiles. What about inside the shops? Will the lane between Toilet Paper and Asian Food facilitate the mobility scooter. I have witnessed a local woman parking her mobility scooter at the local hospital, and seemingly quite sprightly, walk up some stairs to enter and possibly visit a sick friend.

In the local Australia NRMA ( Road and Motorist) organisation’s magazine a bewildering assortment of the Mobility Scooters are now advertised. Some come with shopping bags, either in front or stowage opportunity below the seat. It shows turning circles and tip-over ratings. I noticed a local man happily scooting along while puffing away on his cigarette. I wonder if his smoking has caused the need for his mobility scooter. Did he develop diabetes and did he get his toes amputated as a result? Apart from smoking I noticed him taking photos around the place. It is an admirable way of ageing while keeping on his toes!

We still are walking each day. No need to think of a scooter. It will come about that walking will get less. I do believe that road rules will have been introduced for those mobility scooters by then. What about parking those scooters. Imagine the queues at shopping centres? Will there be incidents of Mobility Scooter rage? I can hardly imagine special ‘invalid parking’ spaces for those scooters. There will be millions of them!

It makes one wonder.

Senior moments of Australia steeped in political morass.

July 5, 2016

photoThe eight weeks of electioneering in Australia had finally come to an end. The voting had finished at 6pm on the second of July. The counting had started right on cue at all the scrutineering posts. Helvi and I had settled down on the claret coloured settee. Milo had been fed. The wine decanted and breathing heavily. It was all-ready-set-and-go. The TV was switched on soon followed by the sound bar. It is one of those electrifying evenings that one might still talk about for years to come. Forget about Dr Who or God of Thrones. Election night hasn’t been missed for at least thirty years.

The Government funded advertisement free TV station, the ABC, has always been our favoured channel to watch. As the early figures started to come in we were heartened by a swing towards the left. We are left of the centre but not so left as to drop into the stormwater drain of rioting unions or brick throwing bakers. That might be so because of our age. Our brick throwing days are over. If anything could still be thrown it would be a marsh-mellow. We do believe that the rich get smoked salmon and the poor mainly Salvation Army soup. The gap is increasing and the people getting restless.

As the evening wore on and with the wine taking its effect, the two person party in our household was swinging. All caution to the wind. The power of our multi millionaire Prime Minister was drooping. Seat by seat Labor was winning at the expense of the Liberal & Nationals. At the same time it also became clear that the Duopoly of both major parties was being curtailed. Both parties were losing out on the primary vote which went to a bewildering number of smaller parties. Pauline Hanson’s ‘One Nation Party’ did a Lazarus after almost twenty years in the never never wilderness. She sucked in the anti-immigration, anti Muslim, and anti halal certification vote. She made sure that at the election barbeques around her area, all her admiring xenophobes were provided with non-halal sausages. Her prime attraction for voters was to pass a law that would insist on CCTV cameras be installed in all mosques.

At the end of the evening ( and it was now 1.30am) the experts on elections announced the most likely scenario would be another ‘hung government.’ This election was supposed to be to strengthen the Government of the LNP PM’s Malcolm Turnbull grip on the future of Australia. It might take days if not weeks to get a final result. It is likely, another election will be held before Christmas. The reflections by Mr and Mrs Oosterman are, that our PM just did not follow up on the image that we had of an innovative progressive leader. He did not pass legislation on the SSM that the nation overwhelmingly wanted, and instead went for a $150 million plebiscite at the end of this year. The other promise of lowering taxation for businesses at the expense of health and education was also seen as a hand out to the ‘big-end’ of town.

Australia is now faced with uncertainty, yet life goes on. We had a terrific evening. The sun came up, darkness lifted. At least, the LNP are now in a downward spiral. Exciting times ahead. I do hope that the prospects for the refugees on Nauru and Manus Islands will get resolved soon.

Sustainable future by remaining upright.

June 2, 2016

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The man in the park looked wishfully at his surroundings. It had just rained and the trees were not only shedding the last of the leaves but also heavy drops of water. The creek was running fast, yet the ducks had no trouble paddling upstream. No doubt the first of the eggs had been laid. The drakes were on guard, and only the reeds knew where they were hidden.

I recognized the man and his grey little dog. Both are regular walkers. He might know me too but I am unsure. Perhaps he remembers a few years ago when he had slipped in the wet grass, and was struggling to get upright again? There isn’t a lot of dignity in having reached a stage in getting older, when being upright is starting to fail. Perhaps that’s why he might prefer to remain anonymous to his sole witness. The ageing gracefully extracts a price when prostrate on wet grass with curious ducks looking on.

As I said earlier, I had noticed him before on my own walks. He walked with some difficulty. He took little steps. He once stopped and told me he walks each day. ‘I still walk for miles,’ he added proudly. People on the whole still get around, but mainly by cars. Walking is now seems the sole privilege of the old. The young drive or are being driven.

I noticed him lying on the wet sloping grass. He must have slipped and had let go of his walking stick and dog. He had trouble getting up. I asked if I could help. He did not say anything but I got him upright anyway and handed him his walking stick, and his dog with a lead. The whole procedure was then keenly watched by some ducks, and Milo our own dog. The ducks are fed regularly by other walkers, mainly mothers and young kids. The ducks must have thought it was taking some time for the old man to give them the food.

I haven’t reached the age yet of unable to get up from the prone position. But, it is strange how of late I do study old people and their ways of getting about. I keenly observe their gait. Are they using aids? Do their partners nudge them onwards, prop them up a bit, are they a bit wobbly? Do they look vague? Shops are more and more selling equipment for the elderly.

Aldi is at the very cutting-edge of elderly care. They sell everything from mobility scooters, to hydraulic toilet-seat lifters, Chrome bathroom grip holders, tri-pod walking aids, incontinence pads for the bladder-intestinal-harried sufferer. People are not shy. I noticed an elderly gentleman throwing his packet of incontinence pads, with cheerful abandonment, on the conveyer belt. I am as yet not that brave nor incontinent. But, it will happen,… eventually.

On my last medical visit, I was given a thorough check-out. I did not ask for it. It is now a Government initiative to get the old on-board. ‘You don’t suffer Alzheimer at all,’ the old doctor informed me. This was based on my ability to follow an order and fold a sheet of paper in half and put it on the floor in front of my feet. I also remembered three words; ‘chair, sea, and dog,’ after a delay of more than 3 minutes.

Amazing!

Light at the end of darkest tunnel in Australia’s history.

September 23, 2015

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-23/turnbull-says-changes-to-asylum-seeker-policy-will-be-considered/6799162

Australia’s asylum seeker policy ‘controversial’, changes will be considered: Malcolm Turnbull – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) Australia’s asylum seeker policy ‘controversial’, changes will be considered: Malcolm TurnbullBy Susan McDonald

Posted 21 minutes agoWed 23 Sep 2015, 3:44pm

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said he is concerned about the plight of asylum seekers in Australian-run detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island.

Mr Turnbull described the Government’s asylum seeker policy as controversial and challenging.

He told Sky News any changes to policy will be carefully considered.

“Our policies will change, all policies change but when we do make changes we’ll do so in a considered way and they will be made by the ministers, myself, [and] the Cabinet.”

More to come.

Loitering at Bankstown Square

January 17, 2014

Rhubarb & Apple crumble

Rhubarb & Apple crumble


It is re-assuring, even extraordinary to find our government advising the elderly and those in frail health to try and stay cool. Those that do not have air conditioning and are on the streets the advice is to seek shelter inside large shopping malls. The relentless heat-wave is taking its toll. Hundreds are taken into hospitals. Bush fires and alerts are keeping people on their toes. Ambulances are racing from collapse to collapse of bodies. Things are a bit nervous again, just when we felt it safe to get out again after the anxiety and bustle of Christmas. Images on TV show some nursing homes with the elderly sitting with their feet in cold water. Try and stay cool and well hydrated!

The loitering of pensioners or those who cannot afford running air-conditioning at large shopping complexes is a well known fact. It saves money not having to switch on cooling devices at home, even if it is just a fan. One is dry and comfortable. I often see the elderly in the comfortable surroundings of those huge shopping malls watching the world of the shoppers go by. There are large settees or arm chairs. Sometimes a surreptitious nice nap doesn’t go astray either. A splurging out of a fifty cent soft ice cream from the Big Mac. emporium. It is all taken into one’s stride. It passes the time. Time is what is in abundance here. I often do exactly the same while H. scans the latest in fashion boutiques you will find me keenly watching, observing and taking a terrific well earned shut-eye. Making a rhubarb crumble does take it out of you.

To stay ‘well hydrated’ is yet to be followed up with ‘drink water’ and avoid sugary drinks such as Coke or other sugar laden liquids. Of course alcohol is totally wrong. No, nothing of that kind. Just imagine the revenge of the Soft drink and Alcohol industry. Governments must tread carefully. A balance between health and survival and assuaging the holy Market is of the essence.

It reminds me about how my mum used to go to Bankstown Square back in the fifties and sixties or so. However, her aim for survival was the opposite. It was to get warm. Back in The Hague we were shown waving palms and Mosman suburbs with a very fit post man dressed in Omo white shorts leaping over fences delivering the post to sun-drenched gleaming white toothed wives standing next to a glorious white painted picket fence.

That first 1956 winter in Revesby in the grey asbestos fibro garage with the frost millimetres away from our noses underneath the blankets. The kerosene heater came next winter. Mum coping with a family of six all huddled together listening to ‘Smokey Dawson’ on the Bakelite radio. It was the Thursdays when our pay packets would be handed to her. We needed desperately to get enough money for a proper house. Even the proper house after a couple of years, was still clad in the same asbestos- fibro and still the undeclared frosty winter.

Mum did the only thing available to make the best of it. She made sandwiches and filled the thermos with hot coffee and escaped on the bus to Bankstown Square. It was the first large shopping centre to open in Sydney. It was headline news with marching girls, flags were out, jubilation of an entire nation. Bankstown Square was warm and had a buzz about it. There were crowds of people. My mum was a social creature and would strike up a conversation in her half Dutch half mangled English. Bread would be delivered by the ‘bugger’. She somehow never learned to say ‘baker’, instead just called him the Dutch ‘bakker’ pronounced ‘bugger’. ” Hello bugger, three loaves today, dank you well”.
Even today it still makes me LOL.