By Andrew Klein
Like many Australians of my age I grew up with the idea of what it meant to live in what was referred to as a ‘third world country’. Images of oppressive regimes unaccountable to the majority of the public, failing communities, the creation of elites at the expense of the majority. Economic planning that favoured offshore powers busy milking the country and its people of both assets and dignity. A plethora of seemingly mindless regulation and controls in the face of a manufactured enemy whose nebulous existence in far off place allegedly threatening what were seen as the core values of the ‘state’. Huge amounts of monies spent on military equipment preparing for a war that would be fought and possibly encouraged by a super ally whose interests were consistent with ‘elites’ and not in line with the very basic needs of the people.
The ‘kafkaesque‘ superstructure of public servants providing very basic support marketed as the very best. Medical care denied to many when it should be preventing ill health, dental care seen as a luxury; a view that denies the fact that oral health not only ensures general good health but makes it possible for individuals to be work ready. Essentially a questionable quality of life for many in spite of the public trappings of wealth. The offensive and costly memorializing of past wars to lend credibility to political non warriors seeking advancement by sniffing around the p.r. pages of the armed services whilst the real veterans of conflict go begging, their families struggle and the returned ‘soldiers’ die in numbers far greater than the conflict. Utility bills that are difficult to understand and the monies spent moving into the hands of off shore interests whilst people go very cold and often unwashed. A growing gulf between ‘elites’ and a public stressed daily with the need to comply with rules and regulations that turn many into criminals carrying debts, again collected by private entities that have bought these rights of what could be called ‘robber barons’ whilst those in power swan around and work average hours following the directives of unaccountable party machines and even more powerful lobby groups.
I recently spent some time in parts offshore in countries we here often describe as third world. I suppose much depends on how you define a third world country. I have travelled far and wide in my life, I have witnessed the changes to Australia since before 9/11. I see our local ghettos daily, I see the many in crisis with real needs and I have met with members of the ‘elite’ and have heard their disconnected views on human rights and quality of life .
I stepped off the plane this week, finding myself in an oppressive third world country. It was dirty and I felt shame seeing the suffering continue and I was gob smacked when I received the water bill. Whilst I was away and my house was empty I accumulated over $200 worth of charges which included shifting my ‘shit’ at $38 and services charges of almost $130. I also saw my regulars struggling, received numerous phone calls for assistance and watched another family fall apart. On the bright side a highly respected veterans advocate friend of mine saved a veteran’s life.
I was back in a third third world country – that country was Australia, my Australia!
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