10 Questions for Gilbert Goh

Gilbert published a letter so spurious, I just have to have to ask him a few simple questions. He goes on and on about his friend being unemployed and enjoying benefits, immigration, the weather… well, if you want we’ve published his note in full at the bottom of this article.

And oh, the grammar Nazi in me insists on a few grammar corrections.

 

Q1. According to Gilbert, Australia is “a welfare country” but in the same breath he adds that “many people here couldn’t can’t afford expensive heating facilities”? Oh and many “homeless” need help too. If welfare is all he raves it to be, shouldn’t these problems be alleviated?

 

Q2. If the state pays the homeless who “sometimes are hospitalised”, and also pays his “unemployed friend” where does the state get all its money from?

 

Q3. His unemployed friend “could can claim close to a thousand dollars a month”. So, people with jobs actually pay for your friend while he choses to remains unemployed?

 

Q4.Unemployment benefit only lasts six months and he has to reapply after that”. Technically, If he gets to re-apply, then the benefits doesn’t ‘only’ last six month….But, back to the question. How long does he get to stay unemployed and still get paid?

 

Q5. So, could his friend be unemployed because of the A$19 an hour minimum wage? I mean, companies can just easily set up office in New Zealand next door (3hrs flight) since the minimum wage is $14.25 an hour, no? It’s a hefty 25% discount, and who doesn’t love a discount? Especially if you’re living in a country “very expensive to live in compared to Singapore“.

 

Q6. If a construction worker is paid $19 an hour to build HDB flat ABC, versus one paid S$7 an hour to build HDB flat DEF, which HDB flat is more expensive and why? Tell me Gilbert, why?

 

Q7. You heard “they are raising taxes for those earning up to $180,000 per annum.” *Gasp*, the tax rate in Australia for high income earners is already 45%. New Zealand taxes high income earners up to 33%. Where do you think the high earners will go to?

 

Q8. Why do you think they are “trying to reduce welfare to those on temporary disability income for recipients up to age 35 years old 35 years old

 

Q9. The economy is slowing down. The minimum wage is high. The income taxes are getting higher and the unemployed gets paid for being unemployed. And you actually think this is an ideal scenario for Singapore?

 

Q10. Can you do something about your grammar? I mean, at some point, it gets more distracting than the logic of the article.

 

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The following was Gilbert’s letter:

Gilbert Goh

I just arrived Sydney yesterday to visit my daughter and the weather last night was freezing cold at 12 deg during autumn!

I was shivering from the cold as my rental room don’t have any heating faciity and I piled on two thick jackets to stay warm on top of a blanket I got from the landlord. I must say my sleep was very interrupted.

My daughter reminded me that whenever I came down to visit her last time, the weather was either very hot or very cold!

I remembered teaching in China few years back and experienced the devastating Sichuan earthquake which took away 80,000 over lives. The province that I taught in also experienced one of the worse winter recorded in history.

From a fleeting snowing annual routine experience, that year which I was there brought three weeks of constant snow and paralysed the area for almost two months.

I hope Sydney won’t have a too-cold winter as many people here couldn’t afford expensive heating facilities and the homeless sometimes are hospitalised due to the cold as they sleep out in the open.

To me, Sydney is still very expensive to live in compared to Singapore. My landlord told me he paid A$59 for an hour of parking in the city yesterday!

I have a love-hate relationship with Sydney as its a fully-developed democratic society with proper human rights and freedom of speech but my stay here was interrupted permaturely due to the end of our marriage four years ago.

I always returned to Sydney with a heavy heart but its good to catch up with old friends and familiar places. More importantly, I get to visit my daughter and spend some real quality time with her.

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t have permanent residency status here and we came on a 4-year 457 skilled visa tagged to my wife. The visa has since expired.

Like Singapore, Sydney suffers from an ageing problem and there are close to 5 million immigrants here – brought in mostly during the pro-immigration Howard period.

Due to adverse voter reaction which ultimately brought the downfall of the government then, the current regime has scaled back immigration and less than 100,000 immigrants are allow to be brought in annually and most of them are skilled people.

Its humanitarian programme still continues though the infamous boat-people issue has caused much headache to the country.

People from Sri Lanka, Iraq, Iran still take leaking boats via dangerous waters to seek for a greener pastures here and some of their stories are truly heart-aching ones. Many have perished midway while making their journey of hope.

Being a welfare country, the state taxes the people alot but returns back to them via subsidised national health care programme, pension retirement scheme and unemployment benefit.

A friend who is currently unemployed could claim close to a thousand dollars a month on unemployment welfare but he has to report for workshops and structured interviews arranged by their civic centre – like our CDC.

Unemployment benefit only lasts six months and he has to reapply after that.

There is of course minimum wage here and the current rate is close to A$19 an hour. If you work here, you can survive unlike back home whereby employers still pay only $7 an hour for manual work.

Next week will be the Australian parliamentary budget announcement and I heard that they are raising taxes for those earning up to $180,000 per annum and trying to reduce welfare to those on temporary disability income for recipients up to age 35 years old.

The minimum tax bracket for earners is close to 20% and high income earners can be taxed half of their wages!

The current liberal government has its work cut out for them as the economy looks like slowing down due to the slow-down of the Chinese economy.

The recent Australian economic boom in the mineral sector derived alot of its success from the Chinese pick – up and they may have over-depend on them for its own success.

Its restructured financial sector is still floundering dismally and maybe the geographical distance from Asia has contributed to this failure. The government here was trying to derive some success from the Asian economic boom via the financial sector but fail to capitalise on it for many years.

As for me, I will be visiting great haunts like The Rock, Manly island and Bondi beach like any ordinary tourists would but there will be lots more memories attach to these visits.

 

 

 

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About the author

Tay Leong Tan

Tay Leong Tan is a collective of 3 writers. Tay, Leong and Tan. (Who were you expecting?!) We are enthusiastic about labour issues, economics and current affairs in particular.

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