I'd like to report some suspicious behaviour
January 13, 2003 3:20 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to report some suspicious behaviour...a series of recent television commercials running on Australian TV promoting a toll free phone number to call if the viewer happens to see anything suspicious. Suspicious, you say? Don't be alarmed, it's all part of the Let's Look Out For Australia Campaign, whose motto is: 'Be alert, but not alarmed'. Then it says: 'Australians are friendly, decent, democratic people, and we're going to stay that way.' I feel alarmed, but not for the same reason. I'm alarmed that everything I once valued about my country, a humane welfare system that provided free healthcare and free education (including free university study) and an admirable and enlightened approach to multiculturalism, have been substantially compromised over the past decade. I feel so betrayed that I can no longer say with confidence that I love my country. Things have reached the point where I want to move somewhere else: anyone have any suggestions?
posted by chrisgregory (39 comments total)
I don't know that there is anyplace else to go... I live in the US and have thought about moving for a while myself (not for entirely the same reasons, but similar ones). Australia was suggested a few times as a place to go. Canada seems to come up a lot; Vancouver sounds nice. At the moment, Costa Rica is pretty high on my list, too.
posted by elvolio at 7:09 AM on January 13, 2003

Not here. (said the American, happy enough in his community life but scared about our Commander-in-Chief and our anti-Earth selfishness and a many other things even though he has lived abroad and felt homesick for the jazz, the happy-go-lucky road-trip mentality, the multicultural fabric of urban life...)
posted by kozad at 7:09 AM on January 13, 2003

That's a damn shame. I had been holding Australia out as a possible destination if things got too bad here in the US.
posted by willnot at 7:17 AM on January 13, 2003

Whereever you decide to move there probably will be someone wanting to take your place in Australia.

What's wrong with staying where you are and working to change everything back?

Australia has a some real selling points. Isn't your country the one that stopped the "Moral Majority" before it could get a foothold?

Still, if you must move...try BestPlaces and BestPlacesonEarth

Or make a FPP on Metafilter.
posted by ?! at 7:18 AM on January 13, 2003

Somebody talked!
posted by rschram at 7:19 AM on January 13, 2003

Ah yes, the proverbial "Grass is Greener" syndrome. I, too, have lived the better part of the last seven years in Europe and find myself complaining just as much about things there as I do here.

Here I bitch about closed minds, there I bitch about stupid bureaucracy. Here I bitch about our politicians, there I bitch about...their politicians.

Well, if there is one constant around the globe, it is that politicians rub everyone the wrong way.
posted by tgrundke at 7:19 AM on January 13, 2003

I wouldn't pick Costa Rica to escape big brother, while beautiful, free and nice, its not without plenty of problems. A couple good examples from my time living down in San Jose would be the cops that arrested and beat up the step father of a girl who claimed she had been kidnapped, until she revealed that she'd been at her boyfriend's house or the same cops who got tired of having a known drug kingpin get off on technicalities, just paid him a visit, took him into the jungle killed him and pushed him off a cliff. No, I think your best bet is to just to move somewhere really remote and just not see other people. Wyoming maybe?
posted by Pollomacho at 7:20 AM on January 13, 2003

Come to South Africa, you'll make up for the people leaving here to go live in Oz.
posted by PenDevil at 7:20 AM on January 13, 2003

I think choosing a country always comes down to a compromise. To further confuse things the pros and cons involved in the decision vary from person to person. Some people value personal security more than personal freedom, others value cradle to grave government assistance more than free enterprise.

One thing to think about though is that if you're in a country where you can freely enter or leave you're in a better position than many people on earth. Nobody defects from the U.S. because if you don't like it, well, don't let the door slam you in the ass on the way out. People did defect from Russia in its communist days because you weren't actually allowed to leave the country.
posted by substrate at 7:28 AM on January 13, 2003

We're doing alright here in Canada... good privacy laws, drug decrim is in the works, as well as a copyright reform that's aware of digital culture.

It is, however, pretty cold right now.
posted by Jairus at 7:40 AM on January 13, 2003

I agree completely with "?!". chrisgregory's home city of Melbourne, Australia, has to be just about as good as it gets. Thriving multiculturalism, decent public transport, plenty of independent cinemas, a passionate local sports scene, a restaurant culture that's the envy of cities twice the size, beautiful weather, democracy that works (on account of compulsory voting) and good education. I've just moved from Melbourne to the UK for work reasons and thoroughly miss all those qualities. Don't throw it all away just because John Howard's taking a few very mild authoritarian cues from Dubya.
posted by Bletch at 7:56 AM on January 13, 2003

If all the intelligent, caring people leave their home (people with enough motivation to uproot their lives, and enough social conscience to care about what is happening); who will the future of that country belong to?

If you think your government is making mistakes, tell your officials, make noise, don't abandon it.
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 8:31 AM on January 13, 2003

what about sydney, bletch? a bit less cliquey than melbourne possibly? certainly doesn't make as much effort to represent itself as a 'city of culture'. generally more laid back IMHO. less cultural cringe, perhaps?
what part of the uk are you in? aprt from the weather and the variety of food, we have most of what you dig most everywhere.
yeahyeahyeahwhoo, nice sentiment, unfortunately 'acting up' could be a ticket to incarceration/death for at least half the global population. although not the case in australia, for the most part. sad but true.

chrisgregory, Pollomacho has a good suggestion, plenty of 'really remote' places to move to up north...
but that would be avoision.
posted by asok at 8:43 AM on January 13, 2003

If you think your government is making mistakes, tell your officials, make noise, don't abandon it.

That's one way to go. But voting with your feet, and dollar, can be a very powerful engine of change. There's nothing wrong with that.
posted by rushmc at 9:05 AM on January 13, 2003

suggest you move to Cuba. Or some other place that's so "humane" that there's no money to fund the humanity you crave. Canada would bea good bet, except that, eventually, you would realize that it's riding piggyback on its proximity to Evil America. And then you would feel too dirty to go on.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:38 AM on January 13, 2003

What about that commercial offends you? Any chance the go-go years of growth in Australia are finished and there isn't money to fund the system you prefer? Any chance you're in denial over how vicious, hateful, and well-funded certain terrorists are?

You may be suffering from the same condition as so many Europeans: denial. Take two tours of the club in which so many of your compatriots were murdered and call me in the morning.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:54 AM on January 13, 2003

Wow, the competition with America to turn from a free society to a police state has gotten mighty stiff lately. Sounds like you're comin' on herd down there in Oz.

C'mon up here to the States and join us. Once we collectively realize that there's not going to be any effective end to the wars on terrorism or drugs, we'll probably be able to prevail on our lawmakers to get our freedom back. Meanwhile, it's useful to the end purpose of securing liberty to let us all figure out what a drag it is to live under a regime where it's been lessened.

posted by alumshubby at 10:34 AM on January 13, 2003

Be of good cheer. The tide will soon turn, in Australia...and America....and throughout the world.

suggest you move to Cuba. Or some other place that's so "humane" that there's no money to fund the humanity you crave.

Dumbest non-sequitur ever.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 10:39 AM on January 13, 2003

Dumbest failure to pick up claims made by Cuba and other Soviet-age regimes to demonstrate their superiority over fascist America.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:54 AM on January 13, 2003

Buy a boat, become a pirate.
posted by Dick Paris at 11:08 AM on January 13, 2003

*runs out to buy black eye patch*
posted by ginz at 11:34 AM on January 13, 2003

Argh. It's the pirates' life for you. You won't even have to move very far.

Seriously, stay home and work for change. In the modern world, there is no place to run that is safe from the potential for tyranny.
posted by moonbiter at 12:10 PM on January 13, 2003

Vancouver, Canada gets another vote - and Australia's Internet censorship laws have probably resulted in my preemptive blacklisting.
posted by Ryvar at 12:22 PM on January 13, 2003

Canada would bea good bet, except that, eventually, you would realize that it's riding piggyback on its proximity to Evil America. And then you would feel too dirty to go on.

Paris Paramus, you have reckoned without the active ingredient of the all-Canadian pastime of "contrast and compare ourselves to America", which makes us feel inferior and superior by turns. There's no time to feel dirty.
posted by orange swan at 12:30 PM on January 13, 2003

Come to the US: our ruling class has (so far) been unable to disarm us in the name of saving us from ourselves. Unlike Australia.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:42 PM on January 13, 2003

Try as I might, I just can't see what is so ominous or offensive about this campaign.

So the government, in response to a lot of it's citizens being blown to bits by a movement that quite clearly has the ability and has expressed the desire to blow more people to bits whenever it gets the chance, engages in an informational campaign including a centralized number to call if someone sees something suspicious.

I'm sorry, but I don't catch even a whiff of jackboots and truncheons about this. It seems to be a pretty calm and straightforward campaign, which states clearly the vlaue that "Australians are friendly, decent, democratic people, and we're going to stay that way." I think you'd have to slide a good way down a slippery slope to construe this as the beginning of some Orwellian governmental mandate to denounce your neighbors before they denounce you.
posted by John Smallberries at 1:09 PM on January 13, 2003

Well, apart from the fact that you live in Melbourne, I don't think that you have anything to complain about:-) Australia is a free, democratic country and what is wrong with taking reasonable steps to stay that way? This advertising campaign (so far, at least) has been done in a completely non-offensive way and it is only common sense that, in these times, we are more observant than we have been in the past. That does not mean becoming paranoid, just being a good citizen.

We still have free healthcare for all (whether you are dead poor or filthy rich) as well as free pre-tertiary education and, although students are required to contribute to their university education via HECS should they be fortunate enough to earn a good salary, they are still far better off than many countries.

The welfare system provides those who need it a safety net (as well as a lot of those who don't need it but are too lazy to work, but that is another argument).

Australia's policies and attitudes to multiculturalism have changed significantly since the days of the "White Australia" policy, but perhaps that is the Australia that you are pining for? A country of blatant and officially sanctioned racism, sexism and isolationism where you were welcomed with open arms, as long as you were white, spoke English and were prepared to forget your heritage and your culture and adopt the Australian way of life completely.

I am proud and happy to live in Australia, although it is not my country of birth and consider myself extremely lucky. I suggest that, before you complain about how awful it is here, you either do some travelling to see how the rest of the world lives or do some research on just how free Australia really is.
posted by dg at 3:25 PM on January 13, 2003

England is nice.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 4:19 PM on January 13, 2003

Australia does have its problems, but if I were given the opportunity to move either back there again or to move back to Canada, I'd choose Oz in an instant. For what it's worth.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:26 PM on January 13, 2003

I left Norway for Australia, hopefully permanently.
I left a horrible climate, arrogant attitudes, crippling bureaucracy and sky-high prices.
I also left free eductaion and health-care, tho'.

I came to friendly people, friendly climate, prices that makes it possible to live on my student loan and still go to the pub on friday.

If I ever get homesick, I chat with my old buddies on ICQ and ask what the weather in Norway is like.
posted by spazzm at 4:52 PM on January 13, 2003

Australia may be regarded by foriegners as a great place - and I can understand why - but in recent years, the conservatives have played a major role in screwing over the little guy.

Australians are paying more in taxes, the welfare state is being gradually eroded, the public health system is in crisis and our government seems to enjoy spending money on military campaigns (East Timor, Afghanistan, Iraq?). Then there is the little case of the 'children overboard' affair when refugees were effectively demonized and represented as willing to throw kids into the sea in order to be taken to Oz. We're being transformed into an US v THEM society.

People may think Australia is a wonderful place, but do some reading on the racist history of this country and check out the newspapers for the latest scandals. It may be a beautiful place to live, but the core is slowly rotting away.

The Let's Look Out For Australia Campaign is just another propaganda campaign. It will have little or no value, other than to promote an image of an Australia I have trouble finding from time to time. Anyway, it's always been possible to notify the authorities if you see anything suspicious.
posted by skinsuit at 6:11 PM on January 13, 2003

New Zealand's pretty sweet. No free university education, though, but it's just a wee bit away from you now.
Yes, fighting for change would be the admirable thing to do, but I don't see it making much of a difference.
Maybe someone should tell the governments that the best way to avoid terrorist attacks is to not piss off terrorists.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 7:53 PM on January 13, 2003

I am lucky enough to call Australia home. It doesn't get much better than this for a country in this day and age- I have seen that from my travels (Canada and New Zealand I have yet to visit you).

Yes, the government has some reprehensible policies, but what government doesn't (or hasn't)? The rise of conservatism is scary, t'b'sure, but would you rather live under Dubya or lil Johnny?

What I have also observed is the Australian preoccupation with whinging and whining- Australians do not really suffer at all (relative to the poverty and struggle for survival in asian and eurasian countries I have witnessed first-hand), living a life of luxury and convenience, and so, anything that can be dramatised and exaggerated will be, to fill some sort of warped communal emotional void, or possibly just to pass the time.

The delusion that Australia is a major terrorist target (because it is such an influential world policy maker and player) scares me more than the terrorists do.

Meanwhile, the obese security guards traversing and securing the Sydney Harbour Bridge 24 hours a day is pure comedy gold.
posted by elphTeq at 8:08 PM on January 13, 2003

Howard sold Australia's good name for the votes of the know-nothings, helped by a do-nothing Opposition.

He became PM only after the most extraordinary circumstances, and after his party had tried every conceivable alternative.

These ads are a con job. Blind Freddie can see there's a terrorist threat to Australia - in part due to him - and he's trying to subvert a possible anti-war movement, which he well remembers can undo the most obdurate of governments.
posted by emf at 9:15 PM on January 13, 2003

...in recent years, the conservatives have played a major role in screwing over the little guy.
Meanwhile, Australia's economy is going strong while the rest of the world struggles with disastrous financial problems - sounds like the "little guy" is doing pretty well, thank you very much. Unless this mythical "little guy" is one who likes to sit on the beach and collect the dole instead of working for a living, in which case he deserved all the screwing-over "the conservatives" can give him, with my blessing.

...delusion that Australia is a major terrorist target...
So you think that the target of the Bali bombing was Indonesia? Really? Really?

...the welfare state is being gradually eroded.
True, but you left out part of that sentence, it should read "the rorting of the welfare state is being gradually eroded", which is actually a good thing, in my opinion.

Australians do not really suffer at all (relative to the poverty and struggle for survival in asian and eurasian countries...
Exactly - while Australia is not a perfect country by any means, I am often dismayed at the blinkered attitude displayed by people living here that they have it so tough when almost all of them have no idea whatsoever of what a tough life is about. Have a look in most Asian cities at the constant struggle that millions have to go through just to survive and contrast that with even the poorest Australians (which would be rural Aborigines) and even they are living in a relative paradise. Meanwhile, Australians sit in the pub and whinge about how much beer has gone up. Wake up folks! You are living in a free, democratic, clean, safe country - appreciate it and stop whining.
posted by dg at 2:43 PM on January 14, 2003

dg, although your points are good, you should not trivialise the terrible problems that some Australian Aboriginal communities are facing. Few social groups in the world face such a systematic breakdown, reflected in their extraordinarily high rates of disease, drug abuse, alcoholism, suicide, violence, unemployment and imprisonment, and a generation of well-meaning bureaucrats have been unable to improve their situation. The state of our indigenous people is the dark side of Australia (and deserves our indignation far more than do a couple of advertisements).
posted by Bletch at 6:59 PM on January 14, 2003

Sorry, the second link I posted was incorrect and should have pointed here.
posted by Bletch at 7:03 PM on January 14, 2003

dg did say relative paradise. I don't think you can call that "trivialising".

Everyone is aware of the problems the Kooris have.
posted by emf at 11:48 PM on January 14, 2003

Thanks emf. Bletch, I was certainly not meaning to trivialize the problems facing the Aboriginal communities and this thread is not about that subject anyway.

Compared to many parts of the world, there is no doubt that almost all who live in Australia have the opportunity to live their lives as they wish. To say that you want to leave Australia because of a couple of harmless (if ineffective) TV ads is a bit melodramatic, in my opinion.
posted by dg at 12:20 AM on January 15, 2003

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