"News" from Australia

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"News" from Australia

Post by LeeB »

Well some news from Australia.

Hope that the weather in Japan has settled down. After a long cool start the hot weather zoomed in.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/ ... s-hurting/

Reminds me of the weather and summer we had: a wet cool spring followed by a blistering hot and super dry summer.

Winter is almost over here and while it has been overall much milder than most recent winters, we’ve had some really cold days and a huge number of days with cloudy, gray, and wet weather. Once in a while a beautiful, warm sunny day followed by two weeks of crap. It has been basically impossible to get much work done in the garden as it is always wet and when it is possible to get out there, the ground is saturated so it limits what can be done. Dig a hole for a post and it fills up with water…….

The first day of spring is supposed to have temps down to 1 degree C in the morning……….whatever.

As many may know, Australia has all sorts of nasties in nature. Poisonous snakes to jellyfish. Spiders and all that too.

Here is a story about a mystery disease popping up in the some of the most expensive real estate areas on the Mornington Peninsula. Generally nice areas and some the better beaches where you actually swim if the water temp heats up.

https://www.theage.com.au/national/vict ... 525h4.html

Haven’t taken the metal detector down to these areas………..maybe not a very good idea now.

Next, I remember when I lived in Japan reading about random people getting hit with tiles falling off buildings and dying. Well here in Oz we have our own version: trees and branches falling and killing people. Many times these happen out in the sticks at campgrounds, but recently they are happening in cities.

https://www.theage.com.au/national/vict ... 52764.html

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/in- ... 526nt.html

https://www.theage.com.au/national/vict ... 52it2.html

https://www.theage.com.au/national/vict ... 52gr8.html

IMO a lot of it comes down to the local governments and their inability to take responsibility for the trees in their area. Pass the buck is the common story with local councils as well.

A couple more to add to the list!!

Our little village area doesn’t have that problem, yet, but we do have a big problem with cracked and bulging sidewalks (footpaths in Oz lingo). The village area has been pretty bad, but the city has had a blitz to fix some of the worst areas. Walk on the sidewalk at nights and take a tumble from hitting the concrete slab sticking up 6 centimetres or more. Until recently they’ve just ground the edges down or even worse made a ramp with asphalt…………pathetic. It has taken them more than 10 years to actually fix the worst spots.

Next, one of the big differences between Japan and the rest of the world is the use of cash. Cash is still king in Japan. Cash gives freedom to people in many ways including privacy and low cost. A bank doesn’t take a slice of the transaction when you use cash. And now with low interest rates there really isn’t much of a cost to hold large amounts of cash with banks paying nothing on most balances.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/ ... ing-japan/

Australia, having turned into a great big nanny state, has now started to turn the screws on the use of cash. From next year it will be illegal for ANY business to accept A$10,000 or more in cash in one transaction.

That’s right: illegal.

So if you want to use that ‘cash’ you’ll have to put it in a bank and then pay a fee for a bank cheque or some other method of sending money to a business……….

A$10,000 in the big scheme of things really isn’t that much money. When I left Japan you could take 1 million in cash out of an ATM. You could also deposit money at an ATM and send it to another person’s account. Still impossible here and the system used to send money from one account another here still can take days….

So now they’ve started the slow process to eliminate the use of cash here. Next step will probably to get rid of A$100 bills as the reason for those is of course ‘only criminals and terrorists use them’. They tried to do that before, but the next time they’ll probably succeed. Then it will be $50 bills and so on.

Of course, they tell people they can use ‘electronic’ money – debit cards, credit cards, and all those fancy new methods of paying which will leave an electronic trail of everything you’ve bought and of course those systems are never hacked or go offline. Right.

The banks systems appear to go down or the telephones lines have a problem at least once a month here!! Show up to the store and can’t buy a thing if you didn’t have cash on you. Reminds me of the trains and buses here: sometimes they run. Often they don't. And when they do run, they are often late.

Japan is also proposing a change as well:

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/ ... ndering-2/

And by the way the Tax Office here runs scans of people’s income versus purchases of fancy cars, boats, bank balances, and even houses!!

And in other financial news, the Australian dollar continues to slowly fall in value against the US$ and yen. Since I’ve been in Oz we’ve had some wild swings in value. All the way down to US50 cents and then up to $A1.10 per US dollar.

Right now the A$ is around the 70 – 71 yen area. A huge drop from a few years ago and has made buying things in and from Japan much more expensive.

Hard to believe that less than 5 years ago one Australian dollar could get you over 100 yen. So that 100 yen item will now cost you $A1.40 instead of A$1.00.


And to make matters even worse, the government here, in order to protect the big end of town, changed the laws and slaps a 10% GST on items bought from overseas on such platforms as eBay.

Years ago that 5000 yen item would have cost you A$50. Now it costs you $77 with the change in rates and tax.

They haven’t changed the amount of goods you can bring in GST/tax free yet from an overseas trip. It is still $A900 per person which can be grouped together for a family. So two of you could bring in A$1800 of stuff. That would save you the 10% GST if bought on one of those platforms. Of course you’d have to factor in the 3% fee on overseas purchases when using your Australian credit card!! They get you every which way here.

And lastly, I can’t remember if I mentioned this before, but if you go to a big shopping center you may see a car with cameras slowly driving up and down the rows of parked cars. Every once in a while you may see the same thing on a street or maybe it will be parked on the side of road doing the same thing with a few Sheriff's cars a little further up the road.

What is it you ask?

Well here in Victoria they like to fine you for everything. If you don’t pay the fine it will go to the Sherriff’s Office. They have these cars with cameras and fancy computers and software that do number plate recognition and then they run the plate and owner through the databases to see if you have any outstanding fines.

If you do they will use wheel locks and lock access to your car. Don’t know what happens after that if they impound and tow the car or not………….

Yes, Oz is interesting, isn’t it!!!