Australia’s Carbon Tax

On Sunday, July 10, 2011 the Australian government announced that the 500 largest polluters in Australia would be taxed at $23/tonne of carbon emission, effective from July 1, 2012.

Lets start at the very beginning, ‘carbon tax’ is a tax levied on the carbon emitted when fossil fuels like coal, petroleum (from which products like gasoline and aviation fuel are made) and natural gas are burnt, releasing polluting carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. In contrast, energy sources like wind, sunlight, hydro and nuclear power do not emit carbon dioxide.

In effect this tax is meant to serve as a deterrent to companies currently using fossil fuel and to encourage them to move towards more carbon-efficient fuels. A number of countries already have various kinds of taxes on carbon emissions.

So while the Gillard government seems to have gone back on its promise, I believe this  change of plan, based on new knowledge  gained by the government, is brave, wise and full of conviction about doing the right thing. I fully support the carbon tax and do wish more people did.

Australia stands to benefit from the carbon tax too:

  • Some of the money raised through the carbon tax will go back to businesses and the community in the form of grants, rebates and credits to help them implement greener technologies such as solar power, and renewable energy solutions.
  • The introduction of a carbon tax will encourage people to monitor and lower their energy consumption in order to reduce their costs, and to look for alternative efficient energy sources.
  • Environmental analysts say a carbon tax is essential to fund the development of alternative energy solutions and drive changes in behaviour.
  • New jobs could be created in Australia – the Climate Institute claims its research shows that a significant number of  jobs could be created by shifting focus towards our largely untapped energy resources in geothermal, large-scale solar, bioenergy, hydro, wind and natural gas.

According to a briefing paper released by federal Climate Change Minister Greg Combet, 32 countries have so far introduced emissions trading schemes.

The world is moving towards cleaner and greener energy sources, let us not be left behind!

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London riots

I’m dismayed to hear about the violence in London. Its disgraceful. Steve Kavanagh of the MET police London says there are lessons to be learnt. Yes of course Steve, and Theresa May (Home Secretary) and the rest of those in power, but learn them quick, and before its too late.

I’m surprised by the sheer audacity with which the mobsters operated. With 10,000 crime-fighting CCTV cameras in London, surely they knew they would get caught. If they knew this, it possibly didn’t mean a thing. They were smug in the knowledge that in spite of getting caught, they would get away with all of it! Appalling.

Trouble makers should be punished in a way that will not just teach them a lesson, but be a clear deterrent to others.

The police need to be given more power to deal in such situations. People creating trouble should be dealt with severely, on the spot first. Tear gas, Taser guns and rubber bullets have worked well in such situations. Stop being soft on rioters, they don’t deserve it.

People in power need to address the public via the media, sending out strong messages about dealing with such unruly behaviour.  I’ve heard some strongly worded ‘anti-crime’ messages from the Australian police and politicians on TV and its very reassuring.

The media needs to play a more supportive role in such situations. They need to publish the right stories, send out the right messages and evoke the right reactions.

And to the people of London, don’t let the cowards running riot in the city get you down. Let them and the people in power know how you feel and what you want. Tottenham-riots-004

For an update on the riots click here

Job hunting in Australia

I’m on to my next job – finding a job. This should be easy, TV programs and ‘Down Under’ seminars in the UK will tell you that jobs are easily available in Australia, and salaries much better. Dream place for job-hunting then…

Not really, if like me, you’re a marketing professional, if you’ve moved to an Australian city other than Sydney, if you’re expecting to be paid higher than the UK for a similar role,  and if your job hunt begins in the quarter ending in June.

Here are a few of my tips for job hunting in Australia based on my experience in Western Australia:

  • If you’re looking for marketing/professional jobs in Australia be aware that most of these jobs are in Sydney. In the rest of Australia, professional jobs are much fewer, far between, and competition is intense. Australian experience is preferred.
  • Jobs in mining and ‘tradie’ jobs are easily available and both pay very well, especially if the mining job requires you to be working onsite. WA attracts a lot of interstate migration owing to the high mining salaries.
  • Jobs in Australia tend to me more ‘generalist’ v/s ‘specialist’ roles. Job descriptions could  therefore have a long list of responsibilities, and an even longer list of work-related requirements. If you come with ‘specialist’ experience, it could be difficult to find a similar role, and even more difficult to fulfil role requirements of generalist jobs that include your specialism.
  • Don’t expect all recruiters to revert on your job application, especially if you’ve not made it to the interview stage. Some recruitment agencies wont even acknowledge your application and as I discovered, this trend extends to a few F500 companies in Australia too. A leading international consulting company in Australia didn’t bother returning my enquiry call to the concerned HR person, or responding to my emails either. Demotivating and bad recruitment culture, so be prepared.
  • There seems to be a lot of Government jobs available in Australia with the recruitment process more professional than the private sector. Your application will be acknowledged right away. On closure of the recruitment process (this could sometimes take months) you will receive communication on the outcome of your application . If you do not make it to the job, you are always given the option of obtaining one-on-one telephonic feedback. Pretty professional. Be aware though that almost all government jobs will require you to write a note addressing the selection criteria or the work-related requirements listed for the job.
  • While the hierarchy of job titles in the private sector are comparatively easy to understand,  job titles in the government could be a bit confusing. An ‘officer’ for example could earn more than a ‘manager’,  a ‘coordinator’ more than a ‘supervisor’ and sometimes a ‘worker’ more than the rest here. While jobs are in the ascending order of levels with level 1 being the lowest, job levels are still not clear indicators  of salaries. A level 3 in one government organisation could pay you more than a level 4 in another.
  • Timing: I started my job hunt in May and could hardly find any jobs on the market. Not surprising really, if you consider that June is the end of financial year, when recruitment is generally at the bottom of the ‘to-do’ list. I doubt if this does impact the government sector though.
  • Salaries in Australia are subjective to your last earning in a similar role in the UK.  In my case and for similar professional roles, I found them to be a lot lesser than the UK.

So, if you are a professional from the UK, looking for a similar role in Australia, my advice would be to first set your job priorities, set deadlines, be flexible and open to changing your job-hunting strategy as you go, and, always have a plan B.

Best wishes for job hunting if you are!

Recommended job sites:

www.seek.com : A comprehensive job listing of all jobs available, from various recruitment agencies, and directly from companies.

www.jobs.wa.gov.au : for government jobs in Australia.

www.apsjobs.gov.au : another site for government jobs.

More reasons why I love Australia!

It’s probably a bit early to declare my love for Australia but I do feel like it right now. I know this may change, in fact I’m certain it will, I know I will have good days and bad, but right now, I love Australia! Besides the great climate, lovely beaches, sunshine, beer and nice people, here’s a few more reasons why I love Australia:

Food:

I like eating healthy, but lets admit, in the UK in spite of the Planet Organics and the Abel and Coles its not easy trying to stick to your ‘eat healthy’ resolve. Food available is mostly high on fats, sugars, salt, E numbers and so on.  In Australia on the other hand I find a variety of healthy foods on the shelves of most supermarkets. Loving it.

I also love the fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and seafood easily available. I love the fact that its all locally sourced. Little or no air miles and carbon footprint, eco friendly and very sustainable. Way to go.

Sounds, nature and not nature:

I’m hearing lovely outdoor sounds that I love, Australian sounds that are music to my ears. I hear the sounds of different birds chirping and warbling, the ocean, people enjoying a barbie and having fun, children laughing, wind-chimes and other lovely sounds. And I love them all.

Straight talk:

Australians will tell it like it is, like it or not. No beating round the bush or sugaring things up. This straight talking might come through as a bit rude if you are from the UK. But for Australians, it is what it is and has to be said upfront. Listen to the speeches by Australian ministers and hear local Australians speak about issues on local TV, all straight talk. Works for me, no guesswork about where a conversation is leading to, I like it.

Fishing:

I love fishing and Australia fulfils my passion for fishing. I like the fact that I can choose to fish for my supper. I like it that there are strict enforcements to ensure sustainable fishing and I love the fact that most Australians respect it.

Health & Safety:

In Australia, people’s health and safety does seem to be top priority.

Nicola Roxon, the Heath minister is adamant about going ahead with the plan for plain cigarette packaging. I fully support the plan and think it could make a positive difference. Parts of the U.S are apparently planning to push for similar cigarette rulings. Lead the way, Australia.

I’m always looking for BPA-free products and I find them far more easily available in Australia. Which leaves me thinking, there must be a higher demand here for BPA-free products. Well done Australia, out with BPA, too much harm done already.

I met a mum of three who refused to give her kids ‘nuked’ food, even though it meant a lot more of her time and effort in doing so. It reflects the high awareness of health issues among Australians.

Seems trivial but you won’t get a sunscreen with SPF 50, everything above an SPF 30 can lawfully only be classified as SPF 30+.  Not so trivial when you consider it’s a step taken to prevent the high rate of skin cancer. It’s to discourage people from thinking that a sunscreen with higher SPF could mean they can spend more time in the sun, thereby running a higher risk of skin cancer. Good thinking.

I’m sure there’s a lot more I’ll find out, but from what I discovered so far, I love the healthy and pro-life thinking here.

Free public Barbecues:

When I first visited Australia a decade ago, I loved it that most parks have free facilities for a Barbecues, with some councils charging a nominal fee. Now that I’ve moved to Australia, I still think its a fantastic thing. The message is out there – come enjoy the great outdoors, eat and drink together, have fun with family and friends, have a good time. I’ve seen public barbies at the most scenic locations, in parks with stunning views of the ocean, a river, the city or just a beautiful natural landscape.

I’m loving what comes from the barbies too – lots of delicious food, salads, beer, loads of laughter and great fun.

Shiny, happy, friendly people:

I’m repeating myself but I do have to say that Australians are about the nicest persons I’ve met. I met a lady on a bus, we struck a conversation in which I mentioned I was new to the city. It was the beginning of a long conversation with the best of intentions – sharing as much knowledge and tips as possible. When I got off the bus she insisted on walking me to my destination. Australians are like that, incredibly friendly, welcoming, sharing and love to help people.

It’s the people that make (or break) a country so here’s to all Australians who made this the lovely country it is and a country worth loving!

Loved

Hello Australia!

Right, I’m one of the many Brits who swapped Britain for Australia. Why the swap, the usual suspects – warm weather, plenty of sunshine, the beach, better lifestyle…  What did I leave behind – a good job, lovely house, fashion, family and cold and grey Britain.

Ok so that’s already beginning to sound like a moan, or a whinge as I must now call it.  Whinging is the great British passtime, as most Australians who’ve interacted with Brits will know. I suspect it becomes second nature when you have loads to genuinely whinge about – mostly rubbish weather, the freezing cold, snow and rain, months of going to work in the dark and returning in the dark, bundled up in layers of bulky clothes, very little sunshine and warmth, no motivation for just about anything beyond the absolute necessities. Britain has just about two months of real summer if you’re lucky. Would you then blame the British for being so whinge-ey?

Hopefully, in time, the sun, the surf, the beach and the barbies will purge me of my whingeing genes. And you bet I’m going to try my best to get rid of it as soon as possible, but until I do, please do bear with me.

Its been a little over a month since I made the move to Australia and predictably I’m going  through a see-saw of emotions. At times its “Bugger”, while at other times its “this is fantastic!”, but I must confess at this point its more ‘buggers’ than ‘fantastic’s.  Phil is to blame for this, Phil from Phil Down Under. He didn’t warn me about the things that make me go ‘bugger’, but Phil has a job to do. And to be fair, the lady who moved from Essex to Perth did say it takes about two years to settle in. Well said lady, relocation to any new place is bloody tough so it helps to give yourself two years. I’m going to try and keep this at the back of my mind to help me settle in and not be so harsh on myself.

My blog will be all about my settling-in in Australia, the similarities and differences I notice, a whinge here, a wow there and maybe sometimes just rambles. Feel free to follow me or comment on my blog – observations, thoughts and maybe even some good advice!

So, to the lovely people of Australia, thank you for having us here and do excuse the whinging for the time it takes us to settle in. You see we didn’t have as much of the sunshine vitamin or the warmth that make the fabulous Australian smile. But give us time, we’ll thaw and soon be smiling our way around Australia.

G’day mate!