I’m about half-way through a trip to Australia. Â Yes, there are kangaroos all over. Â I find them adorable, but they are also big. Â I mean, really big. Â I did not imagine how much power they have. Â Other things remind me that “down under” is different from home. Â The birds all sound different, and birds that are essentially parrots fly around about everywhere. Â They look prettier than they sound. Â The country is beautiful and vast.
Australia is greener than the US. Â I haven’t met any climate change deniers. Â I’m sure they exist – I’ve heard they do. Â But everyone I’ve talked to considers climate change real and by and large Australia is acting that way. Â They just introduced a carbon tax bill that’s expected to pass. Â Almost every toilet and shower head I’ve seen manages water well. Outlets need to be turned on to be used. Â Solar power is fairly common.
The Internet is awful. Â Slow, expensive. Â Almost no free wireless. Â They are totally right to be doing a national broadband plan to get fiber to the home. Â Good for them!
The economy is rocking down here compared to us. Â They have a few stock problems when we have a lot of stock problems, so they’re affected by our economy, and Europe’s, and I hear some worries. Â But they have low unemployment (about 5% which represents the usually unemployable anywhere), and some of the CIO’s I talked with at the conference I attended are having great trouble hiring. Â Many people attribute much of the current economic strength to the booming mining business which is feeding resource-hungry China.
The people are by and large happy, friendly, and capable. Â They like to work, they mostly work hard but not the insane hours many of us work. They seem proud of Australia. Â They are mystified by current American politics, and want to understand it (so do I). Â They have universal health care and retirement and no real worries or problems with either that I can tell.
This is sort of half-way report after Canberra and Blackheath (in the Blue Mountains) and I’ve just checked into Sydney, which I’ll report out on in the next few days or just after I get home. Â I feel insanely lucky to be here.