An In-Depth Comparison Between Australia & Canada

Trip Start May 31, 2012
Trip End Aug 08, 2013

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Flag of Australia  , South Australia,
Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Here's a post that might actually be of some use to people (as opposed to say, 'It's a Timothy Dalton/Rowan Atkinson Weekend' or 'The Grocery Store had a sale on Tim Tams!'). This is going to be a very serious, in-depth comparison of Canada and Australia. It is going to be so serious that I don't want anybody to smile. Serious faces guys. Ok, here we go.

Politics - There is nothing more serious than politics. Except maybe taxes, but I guess they're kind of wrapped up together like some kind of gross and twisted candy cane (that no one wants to eat). That being said, I'm not really a political kind of guy so this is going to be a very brief and very amateurish appraisal. The Prime Minister here is a woman named Julia Guillard and most people don't seem to like her. She's the leader of the Labour party and her primary opponent is Tony Abbott. He's been accused of being a bigot and a sexist, although I think these claims are somewhat blown out of proportion. Politics, eh?!

     Look at us, having a serious political discussion. Well, not so much a discussion because you're not answering me (maybe you are, but then you're just weird). I guess this is more like a lecture, and I'm the lecturer and you're the student. Ok, class, time to get back to the topic at hand. Politics! So, my main point with this political lecture is that, from an outsider's point of view, Julia Guillard seems to be doing a pretty good job. With the way that Australia is right now, economically and within the context of international politics, it seems that she's making difficult, but ultimately realistic decisions. Tony Abbott seems to be playing the part of the main political opponent, promising things that just cannot be delivered. My Dad even mentioned that he likes what Julia Guillard is doing in regards to immigration, and he doesn't like anything! This hasn't really flowered into a full fledged comparison as of yet, but it will. It will.

Language - Now, Australians are weird. They say weird things and other Australians understand them. Take this typical conversation from a typical day at the motel between Bill, one of the owners and the mailman;

Bill: Hey Ginge, hot this arvo.
Mailman: Bloody oath!
Bill: Come 'round for tea, have a schooner.
Mailman: Goin' to Macca's, I'll pop 'round after!

Bill: Hey Ginge, hot this afternoon, isn't it?
Mailman: That's certainly true!
Bill: Come back for supper and have a beer.
Mailman: I'm going to McDonald's for supper, I'll pop 'round after!

The funny thing here is that I don't even know the mailman's name. I think it's Ginger, and everyone calls him Ginge. Is Ginger a common Australian name? Duncan, do you know? I don't know. I'm just going to ask tomorrow at work what the mailman's name is because he's a really nice guy and I like him and I feel bad everytime he comes in and I'm like, "Hey.... buddy."

Some of the other slang is kind of common sense and you can figure it out just by it's similarities or the context. Words like lollies (candy), oldies (old people, aka grey haired nomads) and reckon (figure). Others took a little more time to figure out, words like ute (utility vehicle, basically a flatbed truck), chook (chicken), pokies (VLT's), dear (expensive), Sheila (woman), average/ordinary (bad, terrible), bludger (lazy person), swag (sleeping bag), whingeing (complaining), sanger (sandwich), crook (sick or hungover), bikkies (cookies) and feral (hippy or low income person). The cook in the kitchen at the motel laughs at me when I say I'm going to eat some cookies ("They're bikkies!" she howls), and Lee, the other owner, asked if I was going to 'Chuff off' the other day. I was taken aback, assuming it was a mean thing, akin to telling someone to 'Piss off', but it just means leave; she was basically asking if I was going to 'Take off', and I shot her a dirty look for nothing. Ah language barriers.

They also shorten everything, so sunglasses are sunnies, afternoon is arvo (pronounced awvo), a truck driver is a truckie (can also refer to a large coffee), a tradesman is a tradie, barbeque is a barbie, a motorcycle rider is a bikie and a toilet is a tot.

As a final note, Pommys refer to Englishmen, Pommy Bastards refer to Englishmen as well, and I think Bastards in general.... refer to Englishmen. So there you go.

Economics - We've been in Australia 7 months now and so that makes us experts in everything Australian, especially the economy. The Australian dollar is very strong and the unemployment rate is pretty low. They have lots of unskilled labour coming into the country in the form of backpackers, working their way around for not a lot of money, usually paying upwards of 40% tax and then having to 'chuff off' after a year when their Visa expires. They do a lot of picking fruit, picking grapes and pruning vines. These are important jobs for the farmers of the region and there's no shortage of work to be done. They can get away with paying these migrant workers low wages (with a good portion of it going back into the Australian economy) and the farmers make good money on their products. It's actually a great system where everyone wins, because backpackers are after an experience and just want to work their way around the country and the farmers are actually making money (not like in Canada).

Minimum wage is over $16 here and more skilled workers get paid more. Overtime hours are paid depending on what day you work and not when you work over 44 hours a week. Employers pay 9% of what employees earn into a savings fund called a superannuation fund. This is essentially an employer sponsored RRSP for people's retirement savings, locked away and inaccessible to the employee. It is mandatory and is 9% of the person's gross earnings paid on top of their wage. Savings accounts here pay upwards of 5% interest (annually), way higher than our 2% 'High Interest Savings Accounts'.

People don't tip servers and bartenders here, but they make over minimum wage anyway so it's not a big deal. GST is added into the price of everything as well. So on the surface, going out for dinner or drinks may seem more expensive when you look at the prices, but the price on the menu is the final price you pay, no hidden taxes, no tips and no surcharges (unless you use Amex).

So really, even though things are more expensive on the surface, the infrastructure is set up to take care of you (moreso than in Canada). If anything, it's harder on business owners here to make money than the general populace.

Entertainment - Mostly sport. Football, cricket, bowls and horse racing. Kara and I had half a mind to learn some cricket while we were here, but y'know, you get busy, and all of a sudden 7 months have gone by and we're halfway through the cricket season (although experts in economics). Plus, the games are so long! Who has the time?! Another thing, there are state holidays for horse races. No kidding! This coming Monday is a holiday because the Adelaide Cup is on, a horse race. A few months back it was a holiday in Victoria because the Melbourne Cup was on!

As far as television goes, Australia has a wide array of game shows. Not only that, they're great game shows! Spicks and Specks (a music game show with celebrity guests), Randling (a language game show with comedian guests), Would I Lie to You? (a lying show with comedians) and QI (hosted by Stephen Fry and featuring a bunch of comedians). The last 2 game shows might actually be British, full of Pommy Bastards, but I'm counting them here because we first saw them in Australia, ipso facto, now they're Australian in my mind. All of these shows are not only entertaining but they're also extremely funny. Australia also has plenty of cooking shows (my favourite's Alive and Cooking) where the cooks are always outside, sometimes standing in the water up to their knees as they cook.

They also have a couple of guys named Hamish and Andy, our favourite Australian personalities, star of such shows as Hamish and Andy's Caravan of Courage and Hamish and Andy's Euro Gap Year. Check out some of their antics here;

Leisure - Australians like to 'trip around', driving around in caravans or just their own cars or vans. Long drives do not dissuade them, nor do high gas prices. They trip around from everywhere and just drive, drive like the wind, into the night, into the black. Whoa, got kind of poetic there. Sorry, must have been all those drugs I did earlier.

In Canada it seems we fly a lot more to get to our destinations, either someplace hot or overseas, or even to another part of Canada. In Australia, it seems like for a lot of people, the travelling part of the trip sometimes is the trip, We do road trips and whatnot in North America but a large amount of attention goes into taking care of people tripping around down here. There are lots of stops along the roads to pull over, some with toilets, showers and barbeques. Cops don't give people a hassle for sleeping on the side of the road or at these stops, in fact they encourage it! There are signs everywhere telling you to pull over and take a nap. I do it every time I see a sign because I love naps.

Well, I see this post is getting rather long and I oughtta' let you get back to your lives. Australia and Canada share a lot of similarities, but there are also lots of small differences. It's been fun finding these differences and commenting on them, fighting over them and name-calling over them. But it's mostly been a lot of fun sharing them all with you, behind the backs of all these Australians.

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Max on

Yup. We came to very similar observations when we visited. Can't say I am a fan of the Oz policy on immigration but in terms of economics, I found that OZ tended to do a better job of taking care of their contract workers and others in more precarious types of employment. If you watch the weather you will discover that pretty much every day is "fine". We never really figured that one out. Are they still nuts for big brother on tv? You will be pleased to know the Canadian version has just been released at the end of Feb, inc our very own Big Brother: After Dark. We lived with a cricket player while there and let me tell you - it is still not worth learning. But then again we are not sports fans. You forgot to mention the sheer level of gambling as a major entertainment source. 21% of the world's gambling machines (pokies) are in Australia but they have a mere 0.003% of the world's population! And they will bet on anything, inc big brother and who has the worst oscar dress. But one of the things we really loved about Australians was how much they traveled their own country. It might be because they are so isolated down there in the southern hemisphere but I don't think so. We met lots of people who pulled their kids out of school to travel the country for a year. Or had an employer who would hold your job for a year while you traveled. That was amazing to us.

Laura on

Very interesting read!
It actually made me want to go there more than ever!

One word that you didn't mention that i have experienced, is dobber. That is, because I was being one and Patsy told me to stop dobbing on her, then Duncan said "Laura's a huge dobber" and I was confused and really offended.

Turns out i am one, but I'm still offended.
Know what it is?

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