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05 July 2011
It’s been one of those years. I’ve had nothing for ages and then I picked up a bug a few months ago, which morphed into another and then another, and then my asthma, which I’ve had all my life, got out of my control.
So there I was in the back of an ambulance on the way to the hospital (lights flashing, my breath coming in short sharp airless bubbles), looking decidedly unglamorous and more like Lady Ga Ga than Larke Riemer without so much as a lick of ‘Lady Danger’ on my lips and thinking thank heavens for the ash cloud which had already put a stop to my flying to Sydney for work.
Two days later they let me go home under ‘specialist care’ and on a half dozen medications. Unable to lay down flat because of the coughing, I became closely acquainted with my lounge suite, daytime TV (read: live broadcasts of Question Time in Federal Parliament), and the papers.
It was an awful scenario for someone like me but nowhere near as morbid and depressing – and this is for two completely different reasons – as the things I read in the papers and heard from Parliament.
The papers were full of cost of living doom and gloom linked almost exclusively to the carbon tax, and Parliament was full of rude politicians showing about as much respect for each other as they do for yours and my and the rest of Australia’s intelligence. (Keeping on top of my asthma, resting in front of the TV did nothing for anger management it seems.)
It’s a year on and Julia Gillard’s Prime Ministership is, according to the media, looking decidedly unseaworthy. She’s had some tough decisions to make and working with the independents and the Greens – a role she has managed well – says much about her ability to negotiate if not about certainty.
So with carbon and its costs for us in mind, I decided to have a little hunt about to see if all this cost of living news was really that new… and to my glee, discovered some newspapers from the beginning of the year that missed the recycle bin. As far back as January the media was predicting the cost of living to rise by as much as $100 a week based on a number of factors including the fact that we’ve already been “reeling” from increased utility costs, electricity, gas and water, for the past three years.
There’s also been upward pressure from rising world food costs, rising local food costs, especially following the floods and, of course, there’s rising fuel costs to factor in as well. And then, in an article in May (I really must be more diligent about my carbon footprint and actually recycle the papers), which assessed the cost of living with rising housing costs in mind, the finding was that the average family was actually better off now than they’d been back in 2005.
Confused? I was.
Carbon tax or not I am pretty sure, and the research backs this up, that as the savers in the household, women have already begun preparing for whatever is going to be needed to meet the home budget. And the reason I say this is because if we look at retail sales, they are not where the department stores would like them to be, which means someone (and that’s usually women) is holding back.
It’s tax time. The one time of the year we all take a look at our super and as the planners in most households who tend to put all the ducks in a row before making a decision, I am hoping this is not an area where anyone is thinking of cutting back to help make that cost of living budget work. Forgoing a few luxuries, putting yourself last might be what most of us do but not at the expense of security in old age.
As for our politicians, why do they constantly appear to be going for tactical advantage over what is in the national interest? No one is denying the need for rigorous debate on all the issues we face, but the lack of respect they show one another is having its effect. Many people I know are uninterested in the petty squabbling and personal attacks when the issues are larger and more important than that.
The global economy is not looking the greatest and we need our politicians to take the lead and provide certainty. Listening to the community and its leaders about what they think is one place to begin. The creativity of thought that is out there I’ve seen demonstrated time and time again in our own Learn Lead and Succeed program for women looking to move up the chain of command and through vehicles such as the RIRDC rural women awards. In fact, our feature on the national award winner, 28-year-old Caroline Robinson, is worth a look.
It’s not all doom and gloom after all.