tgrundon

"Australia is 'Socialist"? How does that work?

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I was talking to a co-worker today and they told me that they thought living in Australia would be no better than here because "Australia is socialist". That is not the first time I've heard that comment. How does that actually play out in everyday life in terms of taxes (hidden and otherwise), healthcare, and the ability to obtain a fair quality of goods and services? Is Australia really any more socialist than the United States is now?

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I was talking to a co-worker today and they told me that they thought living in Australia would be no better than here because "Australia is socialist". That is not the first time I've heard that comment. How does that actually play out in everyday life in terms of taxes (hidden and otherwise), healthcare, and the ability to obtain a fair quality of goods and services? Is Australia really any more socialist than the United States is now?

There was a time that could be answered affirmatively, but times have changed. The problems with comparisons, is that they involve such a mixed bag of issues. Take taxation. The USA is a Gestapo in comparison with Australia. As a US citizen, I understand you are not free of US taxes even if you leave the country. Until this latest financial crisis and the installment of a left leaning government, we were heading to be one of the freest economies on earth. We have one of the lowest set of protective barriers, and are constantly trying to get the USA and Europe, and of course Japan to lower theirs. Our farmers complain bitterly about foreign tariffs.

The cost of living and lifestyle are excellent in comparison to most other developed countries - and wine is grown here at reasonable prices. We do have a government run health care system, and that is bad. However, unlike Canada, doctors are free to charge what they like over the credited government fee. Private health care and hospitals are available to anyone who wants it. My annual private insurance for hospital cover only is about $US650 pa. with a $400 deductible. Private ward if available.

For retirement, any money (even a million dollars) in your retirement account is tax free after 60. You don't need to even declare it. Our banks have not failed, and although wounded stand without needing government funds injected. Our housing situation has seen a 20% drop in value, but nothing like the fiasco in the USA. Last year we had a good budget surplus, but that will reverse as the government does what all countries have been asked to do - spend spend spend. Bureaucrats here are bad, but don't seem as much a law unto themselves as I see in the USA.

GST is included in prices, so what you see is what you pay. No state taxes. Some of the goods from China are cheaper here than the USA, I have been told - something to do with distribution, but I can't say for sure.

Anyway, that should give you some idea of the place. Beyond that I suggest proper research. Try the internet.

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There was a time that could be answered affirmatively, but times have changed. The problems with comparisons, is that they involve such a mixed bag of issues. Take taxation. The USA is a Gestapo in comparison with Australia. As a US citizen, I understand you are not free of US taxes even if you leave the country.

True.

... The cost of living and lifestyle are excellent in comparison to most other developed countries - ... We do have a government run health care system, and that is bad. However, unlike Canada, doctors are free to charge what they like over the credited government fee. Private health care and hospitals are available to anyone who wants it. My annual private insurance for hospital cover only is about $US650 pa. with a $400 deductible. Private ward if available.

So is there complete freedom in health care? What does the government system do? How is the competence of doctors, especially for advanced treatment?

For retirement, any money (even a million dollars) in your retirement account is tax free after 60. You don't need to even declare it.

What does the qualification "retirement account" mean? What about income from working or real estate investments?

Our banks have not failed, and although wounded stand without needing government funds injected. Our housing situation has seen a 20% drop in value, but nothing like the fiasco in the USA. Last year we had a good budget surplus, but that will reverse as the government does what all countries have been asked to do - spend spend spend. Bureaucrats here are bad, but don't seem as much a law unto themselves as I see in the USA.

What about viro bureaucracies interfering in land use, especially in rural areas?

Anyway, that should give you some idea of the place. Beyond that I suggest proper research. Try the internet.

How does Australia compare with New Zealand? I saw recently that NZ is rated higher in economic freedom than the US.

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Another interesting thing about Australia is I am free of even more taxation as a temporary resident. It goes like this: if I am a visa holder and can legally work in Australia AND in my home country I own a property, then I qualify for a Living Away From Home Allowance, or sometimes known as a LAHA or even LAFHA. What that covers is monthly rent and food costs.

Now, when I become a permanent resident, the LAHA goes away, but I can also buy a property in another city where I don't typically reside but which is where I WOULD live if I weren't "living away from home." As an example: my boss owns a home in Melbourne, but lives in Sydney. Under the law, as long as he is in Sydney up to a certain number of days per month AND his home in Melbourne is actually a home and not leased out, he can claim a LAHA for the rent and food he pays for in Sydney. This isn't a loophole in the law, according to everyone I've spoken to.

The net result of this is my paycheck is several thousand dollars a month fatter by virtue of my status. It's not surprising that New Zealanders want to move to Australia and many do. Anecdotally I heard there are more Kiwis in Australia than in New Zealand. I cannot verify this statement, but it is interesting.

Another good bit of news is Australia won't have an election for some years and from what I can tell, Kevin Rudd has not done as much damage as one might have guessed based on his campaigning in favor of cap and trade. That scam has not come to pass here and regular articles against it appear on the front pages of the major Australian newspapers pretty frequently.

Of course, as a new resident of Australia, I am sure to make errors in my assessments, so I am open to criticism and correction.

My conclusion based on eight months of living here: I couldn't be happier on every level.

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There was a time that could be answered affirmatively, but times have changed. The problems with comparisons, is that they involve such a mixed bag of issues. Take taxation. The USA is a Gestapo in comparison with Australia. As a US citizen, I understand you are not free of US taxes even if you leave the country.

True.

... The cost of living and lifestyle are excellent in comparison to most other developed countries - ... We do have a government run health care system, and that is bad. However, unlike Canada, doctors are free to charge what they like over the credited government fee. Private health care and hospitals are available to anyone who wants it. My annual private insurance for hospital cover only is about $US650 pa. with a $400 deductible. Private ward if available.

So is there complete freedom in health care? What does the government system do? How is the competence of doctors, especially for advanced treatment?

For retirement, any money (even a million dollars) in your retirement account is tax free after 60. You don't need to even declare it.

What does the qualification "retirement account" mean? What about income from working or real estate investments?

Our banks have not failed, and although wounded stand without needing government funds injected. Our housing situation has seen a 20% drop in value, but nothing like the fiasco in the USA. Last year we had a good budget surplus, but that will reverse as the government does what all countries have been asked to do - spend spend spend. Bureaucrats here are bad, but don't seem as much a law unto themselves as I see in the USA.

What about viro bureaucracies interfering in land use, especially in rural areas?

Anyway, that should give you some idea of the place. Beyond that I suggest proper research. Try the internet.

How does Australia compare with New Zealand? I saw recently that NZ is rated higher in economic freedom than the US.

At the moment the hospitals are run by the states, but there is talk of the Federal Government taking over. The best doctors here are world class, but we have also had scandals, such as Dr Patel, who was disqualified in the USA, and is now on trial for the death of patients here. No background check was done when he was hired. Those who pay no private health insurance get free hospital care, but elective surgery can put you on a long waiting list. That is why I carry private insurance. I'm afraid that like any socialist medical system, you take your chances and hope you don't end up with a Dr Patel. My private insurance rates are low because I joined many years ago. An older new subscriber would pay more, depending on his age.

A retirement account is called a "Super" over here. This is a contraction of "Superannuation." It is your private account. The rules are complicated, but at the moment it is compulsory to put 9% of your pay into it. The company adds some as well. As far as I know, commercial property is allowed to be held in it. The funds in this Super account are pretty much locked in, and with 15% income tax. However, tax credits from franked dividends often more than compensate this. Once one turns 60 and starts a pension, the rules change, and all income and withdrawals are tax free.

New Zealand has just turfed a socialistic government, so things may improve there. It is a beautiful country, but until more Australians go there, than NZ's come here, I think the results speak for themselves.

We have our Green Party, but I don't think that the environmentalists have got quite the teeth here to do the terrible things you describe. They even made a movie, called The Castle, about wanting to take a man's house away for an airport expansion, and the fight he put up to stop them.

One man who had the only house standing in one area with these latest bush fires, was fined $30000 for clearing a fire break. He has now been vindicated, and intends suing the council for his money. It will be a while before the Greenies come out of their hole with over 200 people burned alive. I think we will see more back burning from now on.

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A retirement account is called a "Super" over here. This is a contraction of "Superannuation." It is your private account. The rules are complicated, but at the moment it is compulsory to put 9% of your pay into it. The company adds some as well. As far as I know, commercial property is allowed to be held in it. The funds in this Super account are pretty much locked in, and with 15% income tax. However, tax credits from franked dividends often more than compensate this. Once one turns 60 and starts a pension, the rules change, and all income and withdrawals are tax free.

Some companies (like mine) make the 9% contribution on top of the salary, so in my case, none of it comes out of my salary. I can use the BPay system (which is a fantastic electronic bill payment system which is really easy to use and set up) with my bank to contribute in addition to the 9%. I'm not sure what the limit on my personal contributions is, but perhaps Arnold does.

While I think superannuation ought not be compulsory, it is still better than American Social Security BECAUSE they're individual accounts akin to a 401(k) in America. Yes there has been some whining about supers losing value due to the downturn, but I haven't heard of any measures to change the system in any way.

Another thing I like is the novated lease program. Not all employers offer it, but mine does. What it means is I can lease a new car that is sponsored by my company and the monthly payments are a combination of pre-tax and post-tax dollars. I am leasing a 2008 Mini Cooper for three years and my tax savings over the life of the lease amount to $12,000 AUD. My monthly payments also include a fuel card, with which I can buy fuel, oil changes and car washes. All other maintenance is covered, too, so in one monthly payment, the entire cost of the vehicle is covered. This may seem at first glance not to be such a big deal, but the time savings in not having to budget for multiple items translates to financial peace of mind.

The BPay system alone, which debuted 10 years ago, is worthy of imitation in other countries. It completely standardized electronic bill payment in Australia and has been a great success.

I think it's safe to say Australia has some socialistic elements, but as Arnold has explained, many things are better than the draconian rules and regulations Americans deal with on a daily basis.

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There was a time that could be answered affirmatively, but times have changed. The problems with comparisons, is that they involve such a mixed bag of issues. Take taxation. The USA is a Gestapo in comparison with Australia. As a US citizen, I understand you are not free of US taxes even if you leave the country. Until this latest financial crisis and the installment of a left leaning government, we were heading to be one of the freest economies on earth. We have one of the lowest set of protective barriers, and are constantly trying to get the USA and Europe, and of course Japan to lower theirs. Our farmers complain bitterly about foreign tariffs.

What is the "foreign ownership" limit? or, what share of a company must remain in Australian hands?

The cost of living and lifestyle are excellent in comparison to most other developed countries - and wine is grown here at reasonable prices. We do have a government run health care system, and that is bad. However, unlike Canada, doctors are free to charge what they like over the credited government fee. Private health care and hospitals are available to anyone who wants it. My annual private insurance for hospital cover only is about $US650 pa. with a $400 deductible. Private ward if available.

What is the availability of the private wards?

For retirement, any money (even a million dollars) in your retirement account is tax free after 60. You don't need to even declare it. Our banks have not failed, and although wounded stand without needing government funds injected. Our housing situation has seen a 20% drop in value, but nothing like the fiasco in the USA. Last year we had a good budget surplus, but that will reverse as the government does what all countries have been asked to do - spend spend spend. Bureaucrats here are bad, but don't seem as much a law unto themselves as I see in the USA.

How big are the houses? Are there many large, detached near-mansions as in the U.S., or are there more shared townhouses and apartment buildings? How much space is there between houses in a suburban upper-income neighborhood? Are you guaranteed privacy, or do you run into your neighbors often?

GST is included in prices, so what you see is what you pay. No state taxes. Some of the goods from China are cheaper here than the USA, I have been told - something to do with distribution, but I can't say for sure.

What percentage is the GST? How much would someone earning AU$100,000 expect to keep at the end of the year, barring itemized deductions? When you say "no taxes," do you mean no income taxes, no sales taxes, or both? What are the taxes/fees/levies on air travel? on vehicle registration? parking tickets?

In addition, a few more quick questions:

How often does one see a Hummer? Are SUVs popular? Which vehicles (make, year) does one most commonly see on midtown (not downtown) streets?

At night, are the cities brightly or dimly lit? Are the neon signs on businesses fully and evenly lit (are some letters "off" while others are "on")?

How is the recent drop in the exchange rate (AU$ to US$) affecting businesses' and individuals' purchasing power? Did the near-parity (of the dollars) of the past few years affect production/consumption patterns?

How free is speech in Australia? Can a Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage currently exist and prosper in Australia? How expensive is cable TV? Can you receive just about any channel anywhere, or are there "local content" requirements?

Is loitering by "homeless" people tolerated? Are pubs, restaurants, and malls everywhere crowded? Is there an ease about the customers? Do people buy items easily or are they mindful of taxes? Do office people go out to lunch easily? or do the majority bring their own food in (or eat in the office cafeteria)? Are there shopping outlets with reduced prices?

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Is loitering by "homeless" people tolerated?

I'd be curious about that myself, but I read something within the past few years that I found disturbing: that gangs of Muslims were periodically roaming around Australian beaches and harassing the pretty girls in those evil bikinis, and apparently getting away with it.

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Is loitering by "homeless" people tolerated?

I'd be curious about that myself, but I read something within the past few years that I found disturbing: that gangs of Muslims were periodically roaming around Australian beaches and harassing the pretty girls in those evil bikinis, and apparently getting away with it.

Looks like Phil wants to go on strike as a homeless person in Australia harassing girls on the beach :lol:

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Is loitering by "homeless" people tolerated?

I'd be curious about that myself, but I read something within the past few years that I found disturbing: that gangs of Muslims were periodically roaming around Australian beaches and harassing the pretty girls in those evil bikinis, and apparently getting away with it.

That's a very important news item. Which raises my next question to Arnold, Jason, and anyone else who may know: What is the state of gun rights in Australia?

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Is loitering by "homeless" people tolerated?

I'd be curious about that myself, but I read something within the past few years that I found disturbing: that gangs of Muslims were periodically roaming around Australian beaches and harassing the pretty girls in those evil bikinis, and apparently getting away with it.

Looks like Phil wants to go on strike as a homeless person in Australia harassing girls on the beach :D

:lol: So funny!

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I'm not equipped to answer the gun rights question as a new resident, but I can address some of Phil's questions.

1) Houses are not typically as large as American homes, but they're not small like you see in Europe. Also, in the outlying suburban areas of Sydney, you see housing quite similar to American suburbs, which larger yards and lower density. In the urban areas of Sydney, it's much like San Diego or San Francisco: lots of row houses (commonly know as terrace homes here), high rise apartments, and smaller detached houses. As for privacy, I don't notice any difference between Australia and America.

2) The cities in Australia are very clean and lit up at all times. Aside from some of the poorer neighborhoods (which don't appear that plentiful), there is no sign that things are run down here.

3) The store shelves are always well stocked and the variety of goods comparable to American stores. We have superstores in Australia, but they're not QUITE as large as places like Fry's Electronics or Wal-Mart. Still, I have no complaints about the availability of goods. I would say the quality of food is generally BETTER in Australia than in the US. Coffee preparation is second to none and puts anything in America to shame, in my opinion.

4) Vehicle size in the city tends to be smaller, but again not as small as in Europe. You do see larger cars and SUVs to a greater degree than in Europe for sure. Fuel prices are slightly higher here, but again nowhere near European prices. It costs me approximately $35 AUD to fill my Mini Cooper.

5) I'm not aware of content requirements on TV here. There are a LOT of American and British shows on all the major channels, and on the Foxtel cable system you can get CNN, Fox, TCM and a number of the American cable channels. The movie channels play most of the same content as say HBO and Showtime in the US.

6) Malls and shopping centers are very much like their American counterparts and are brightly lit, pleasant and always full of people. The one I frequent near me (Bondi Junction) seems nicer to me than American malls. The food court is more upscale and the quality of the food (as I indicated above) often greatly exceeds what you get in America. Aussies frequently say this about food in America, actually. The cinema I frequent in the city is always full of people on all days of the week. It's always clean and pleasant and the sound and video quality at least as good as in American cinemas.

Those are the items I can address from my own observations of life in Australia. I will have to leave it to the native Aussies to answer the others.

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There was a time that could be answered affirmatively, but times have changed. The problems with comparisons, is that they involve such a mixed bag of issues. Take taxation. The USA is a Gestapo in comparison with Australia. As a US citizen, I understand you are not free of US taxes even if you leave the country. Until this latest financial crisis and the installment of a left leaning government, we were heading to be one of the freest economies on earth. We have one of the lowest set of protective barriers, and are constantly trying to get the USA and Europe, and of course Japan to lower theirs. Our farmers complain bitterly about foreign tariffs.

What is the "foreign ownership" limit? or, what share of a company must remain in Australian hands?

The cost of living and lifestyle are excellent in comparison to most other developed countries - and wine is grown here at reasonable prices. We do have a government run health care system, and that is bad. However, unlike Canada, doctors are free to charge what they like over the credited government fee. Private health care and hospitals are available to anyone who wants it. My annual private insurance for hospital cover only is about $US650 pa. with a $400 deductible. Private ward if available.

What is the availability of the private wards?

For retirement, any money (even a million dollars) in your retirement account is tax free after 60. You don't need to even declare it. Our banks have not failed, and although wounded stand without needing government funds injected. Our housing situation has seen a 20% drop in value, but nothing like the fiasco in the USA. Last year we had a good budget surplus, but that will reverse as the government does what all countries have been asked to do - spend spend spend. Bureaucrats here are bad, but don't seem as much a law unto themselves as I see in the USA.

How big are the houses? Are there many large, detached near-mansions as in the U.S., or are there more shared townhouses and apartment buildings? How much space is there between houses in a suburban upper-income neighborhood? Are you guaranteed privacy, or do you run into your neighbors often?

GST is included in prices, so what you see is what you pay. No state taxes. Some of the goods from China are cheaper here than the USA, I have been told - something to do with distribution, but I can't say for sure.

What percentage is the GST? How much would someone earning AU$100,000 expect to keep at the end of the year, barring itemized deductions? When you say "no taxes," do you mean no income taxes, no sales taxes, or both? What are the taxes/fees/levies on air travel? on vehicle registration? parking tickets?

In addition, a few more quick questions:

How often does one see a Hummer? Are SUVs popular? Which vehicles (make, year) does one most commonly see on midtown (not downtown) streets?

At night, are the cities brightly or dimly lit? Are the neon signs on businesses fully and evenly lit (are some letters "off" while others are "on")?

How is the recent drop in the exchange rate (AU$ to US$) affecting businesses' and individuals' purchasing power? Did the near-parity (of the dollars) of the past few years affect production/consumption patterns?

How free is speech in Australia? Can a Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage currently exist and prosper in Australia? How expensive is cable TV? Can you receive just about any channel anywhere, or are there "local content" requirements?

Is loitering by "homeless" people tolerated? Are pubs, restaurants, and malls everywhere crowded? Is there an ease about the customers? Do people buy items easily or are they mindful of taxes? Do office people go out to lunch easily? or do the majority bring their own food in (or eat in the office cafeteria)? Are there shopping outlets with reduced prices?

Your questions in order. Realize I am speaking of my geographical area, not for all of Australia. Prices in AUD, - worth two thirds of a US$:

I don't know the foreign ownership rules, but I do know that many Australian iconic companies have been taken over entirely.

Private wards? Australia is a big country with different states running their own hospitals. My experience where I live, is that private wards have always been available.

SUVs are popular. I have seen the odd Hummer. Australian cars are exported to the USA. Pontiac GT for example. Drive away price (the price you write on your cheque) for a Hyundai Getz is about AUD13000 (8500USD) Holden (GM) and Ford Falcon have been the big rear wheel drive mainstays, that are falling out of favour in today's preferences.

The Australian dollar is affected by the price of resources. For a while, we had it pretty good. Cost of living is still reasonable here. I'm not aware of lights being turned off as policy.

Housing: Australia has had one of the highest levels of home ownership in the world. What can I say about sizes? They have been getting bigger all the time.

As for crowding, like the USA, it varies. Here is a picture of mine at the top of the hill and the view I have. I have neighbours nearby, but we have privacy.

3027464788_782c3365a0_m.jpg3027465178_561cf1ea12_m.jpg

Taxes. GST 10% included in prices and labour. Some items exempt such as food. If you earn $180000 AUD (116000USD) you would be left with AUD119300 after all income tax. No sales taxes.

Car registration and comprehensive insurance for a six cylinder car worth $5000, is about 1100 AUD

Airfares: A ticket Sydney Lax return about AUD1500. Tickets between Sydney and Melbourne are sometimes cheaper than a tank of gas.

Speech here is as free as the freest anywhere. We have had very controversial broadcasters, but political correctness is alive and well unfortunately.

Homeless are tolerated, sometimes to the disadvantage of others. There is a recent case of a man living on the street in absolute squalor and making life miserable for nearby residents, and the Mayor let it be.

TV: I get satellite TV ($6o pm) with about 80 channels (never counted them). History, N.G., Discovery, Fox news - business reports, CNN - CNBC, Movie channels etc.

We have two versions of PBS. The ABC, and the more multicultural SBS, ABC is mandated to have local content; not sure about the other free to air.

As for your lifestyle questions, I lived in Canada for 27 years, and other than the weather, don't see a lot of difference in everyday workings in Australia.

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Is loitering by "homeless" people tolerated?

I'd be curious about that myself, but I read something within the past few years that I found disturbing: that gangs of Muslims were periodically roaming around Australian beaches and harassing the pretty girls in those evil bikinis, and apparently getting away with it.

That's a very important news item. Which raises my next question to Arnold, Jason, and anyone else who may know: What is the state of gun rights in Australia?

Once I carried a rifle walking through the terminal, and across the ramp, up the stairs, into the airplane. Not anymore. We had some nut shoot about 36 people dead in a tourist spot, and that was it for gun ownership. Farmers can own one with a special permit, and that would also apply to gun clubs.

The Sydney Crunulla riots flared up when Lebanese Muzzelems got pushy on the beach. The locals didn't take too kindly to it. Unfortunately trouble makers never waste an opportunity to get involved in a situation like this, and things got out of hand. The Muzzelems get an earful when their spokesmen mouth off. The average Aussie I encounter has little truck with them.

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Looks like Phil wants to go on strike as a homeless person in Australia [...]

No, I have a considerably smaller location in mind that would certainly have a home and a definite lack of wandering bums, religious loonies, and thieving bureaucrats.

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Looks like Phil wants to go on strike as a homeless person in Australia [...]

No, I have a considerably smaller location in mind that would certainly have a home and a definite lack of wandering bums, religious loonies, and thieving bureaucrats.

And girls on the beach?

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Looks like Phil wants to go on strike as a homeless person in Australia [...]

No, I have a considerably smaller location in mind that would certainly have a home and a definite lack of wandering bums, religious loonies, and thieving bureaucrats.

And girls on the beach?

Evil bikinis and all, I should hope.

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Looks like Phil wants to go on strike as a homeless person in Australia [...]

No, I have a considerably smaller location in mind that would certainly have a home and a definite lack of wandering bums, religious loonies, and thieving bureaucrats.

And girls on the beach?

Evil bikinis and all, I should hope.

Well, you might not hope for bikinis. :lol:

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I'm not equipped to answer the gun rights question as a new resident, but I can address some of Phil's questions.

1) Houses are not typically as large as American homes, but they're not small like you see in Europe. Also, in the outlying suburban areas of Sydney, you see housing quite similar to American suburbs, which larger yards and lower density. In the urban areas of Sydney, it's much like San Diego or San Francisco: lots of row houses (commonly know as terrace homes here), high rise apartments, and smaller detached houses. As for privacy, I don't notice any difference between Australia and America.

[...]

5) I'm not aware of content requirements on TV here. There are a LOT of American and British shows on all the major channels, and on the Foxtel cable system you can get CNN, Fox, TCM and a number of the American cable channels. The movie channels play most of the same content as say HBO and Showtime in the US.

6) Malls and shopping centers are very much like their American counterparts and are brightly lit, pleasant and always full of people. The one I frequent near me (Bondi Junction) seems nicer to me than American malls. The food court is more upscale and the quality of the food (as I indicated above) often greatly exceeds what you get in America. Aussies frequently say this about food in America, actually. The cinema I frequent in the city is always full of people on all days of the week. It's always clean and pleasant and the sound and video quality at least as good as in American cinemas.

Those are the items I can address from my own observations of life in Australia. I will have to leave it to the native Aussies to answer the others.

Thank you for your answers, Jason.

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Evil bikinis and all, I should hope.
Well, you might not hope for bikinis. :P
:wacko:

None of this is relevant. There is no room for beaches on the Atlantis-1 space capsule.

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Your questions in order. Realize I am speaking of my geographical area, not for all of Australia. Prices in AUD, - worth two thirds of a US$:

I don't know the foreign ownership rules, but I do know that many Australian iconic companies have been taken over entirely.

Private wards? Australia is a big country with different states running their own hospitals. My experience where I live, is that private wards have always been available.

SUVs are popular. I have seen the odd Hummer. Australian cars are exported to the USA. Pontiac GT for example. Drive away price (the price you write on your cheque) for a Hyundai Getz is about AUD13000 (8500USD) Holden (GM) and Ford Falcon have been the big rear wheel drive mainstays, that are falling out of favour in today's preferences.

The Australian dollar is affected by the price of resources. For a while, we had it pretty good. Cost of living is still reasonable here. I'm not aware of lights being turned off as policy.

Housing: Australia has had one of the highest levels of home ownership in the world. What can I say about sizes? They have been getting bigger all the time.

As for crowding, like the USA, it varies. Here is a picture of mine at the top of the hill and the view I have. I have neighbours nearby, but we have privacy.

3027464788_782c3365a0_m.jpg3027465178_561cf1ea12_m.jpg

Taxes. GST 10% included in prices and labour. Some items exempt such as food. If you earn $180000 AUD (116000USD) you would be left with AUD119300 after all income tax. No sales taxes.

Car registration and comprehensive insurance for a six cylinder car worth $5000, is about 1100 AUD

Airfares: A ticket Sydney Lax return about AUD1500. Tickets between Sydney and Melbourne are sometimes cheaper than a tank of gas.

Speech here is as free as the freest anywhere. We have had very controversial broadcasters, but political correctness is alive and well unfortunately.

Homeless are tolerated, sometimes to the disadvantage of others. There is a recent case of a man living on the street in absolute squalor and making life miserable for nearby residents, and the Mayor let it be.

TV: I get satellite TV ($6o pm) with about 80 channels (never counted them). History, N.G., Discovery, Fox news - business reports, CNN - CNBC, Movie channels etc.

We have two versions of PBS. The ABC, and the more multicultural SBS, ABC is mandated to have local content; not sure about the other free to air.

As for your lifestyle questions, I lived in Canada for 27 years, and other than the weather, don't see a lot of difference in everyday workings in Australia.

Thank you for your answers, and for the striking view of, and from, your home, Arnold. Australia looks and sounds more and more interesting, especially since her health care system is not fully socialized.

The GST, which is in force here in Canada too, is a sales tax. So, in the example you provided, someone earning $180,000 AUD pays a 33.7% income tax and a 10% federal sales tax. That's comparable to some U.S. states. That's certainly comparable to, or better than, New York, California, and Washington D.C., assuming, of course, no property taxes or other hidden fees and levies.

Australia's weather is a HUGE plus. Which part of the country stays sunny and warm all year, but is also low tax, fairly modern, and close to the sea?

A friend of mine was in Perth recently, and he said it was very nice and much cleaner than the U.S. The only drawback I can see is that Australia is far away from most of the world, so vacationing in the Americas or Europe would mean high travel costs.

One last question, if you will permit: What percentage of universities are private?

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Thank you for your answers, and for the striking view of, and from, your home, Arnold. Australia looks and sounds more and more interesting, especially since her health care system is not fully socialized.

The GST, which is in force here in Canada too, is a sales tax. So, in the example you provided, someone earning $180,000 AUD pays a 33.7% income tax and a 10% federal sales tax. That's comparable to some U.S. states. That's certainly comparable to, or better than, New York, California, and Washington D.C., assuming, of course, no property taxes or other hidden fees and levies.

Australia's weather is a HUGE plus. Which part of the country stays sunny and warm all year, but is also low tax, fairly modern, and close to the sea?

A friend of mine was in Perth recently, and he said it was very nice and much cleaner than the U.S. The only drawback I can see is that Australia is far away from most of the world, so vacationing in the Americas or Europe would mean high travel costs.

One last question, if you will permit: What percentage of universities are private?

About property tax, school taxes are not tied to your property. Taxes are on unimproved land value. If you build a palace, your taxes are not affected. My rates are about AUD$1500 pa.

I chose where I now live as the best place in Australia. Opinions differ of course. Noosa is a holiday town half an hour away. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noosa

I have little to do with universities, and don't know much about them. Government is involved a lot, and spaces are reserved for those who score well at school. Student fees are loaned by the government, but are expected to be paid back when an income is earned. Here is information on a university a couple of hours away. http://www.griffith.edu.au/

As you will see, foreign students are accommodated.

I don't want to paint too rosy a picture, because I cannot anticipate potential problems others may encounter, and besides, this financial mess we are in doesn't encourage immigration. It's the old protectionism response. We were desperately short of trades people with the resources boom, but that changed overnight. Like Canada, Australia is generally open to immigration.

As I mentioned, I lived in Vancouver for 27 years, and was very happy in Canada. However, the city was getting crowded, and moving away from the coast was going to be too cold, so when I retired, I headed down under.

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