Friday, July 16, 2010

Quality of life - at our expense.

This week I have had the distinct pleasure of housing a student from America for a Homestay program that the local Kindergarten takes part in. During his stay I took him out to lunch, drove around to see the local environment and also took him grocery shopping. He commented several times on the high prices we pay for petrol, food and houses here compared to what they pay back in America. He said we spend more on groceries in one day than they spend in a month and even the food at McDonalds (which I did NOT take him too!) was exhorbitant.

After announcing this however, he also stated that our quality of life was much higher here. We have more faith in ourselves to succeed, we have more facilities available to us, we have more schools, a better health system and we have pride in our country, which apparently is dwindling over there.

It made me think a little on what we have now, what we will have in the next 5 years and what is still 30 years away and how it will affect our lives.

I wonder, if the Cairns Cultural Precinct was built tomorrow and we, as locals, recieved 40% off all ticket prices for local performances, shows etc... would we feel happier about the big spend required to build it? If we had a new highway upgrade right now that would enable us to travel to the city from Gordonvale in only 15-20 minutes, would we feel better about the entire concept and cost? If we had access to Sugarworld for $1each more than previously, would we be happier to pay that per visit than get a rate rise for the whole community? If we ensured that all local producers had access to our supermarkets would we be happy eating according to seasons rather than complaining about the cost of cherries in July? If we paid an extra 5 percent on top of the current 5 for our rates but had access to great roads, bike paths, sporting facilities and cultural facilities would we still be concerned about the cost.

Sometimes it pays to look at the benefits of paying for what we want and need. We have free hospitals, free education and free parks and amenities. If we want these improved, and we do, then we need to be prepared to pay for that.

It is absolutely true that we get what we pay for. In America they pay for these things as they go, we pay as a group and should therefore all benefit.

It is not beyond the realm of possibilities that we should not get our cheap tickets for a precinct we provide, it is not too much to ask Dairy Farmers to lower their price by 50 cents per 2 litre bottle (or even have them on special occassionally) so that we buy their products all the time. It is also not too much to demand that we have the facilities for our kids and ourselves that we want, as a tradeoff for paying more for everything.

Compromise is not a word we use often because we often feel that in doing so, both parties miss out, but it is something we should all embrace (Council, Government and the people) so that nobody ever feels like they are getting nothing or conversely, everything. We are the employers of our governing bodies so we have the right to ask for what we would like. They have the right to disagree, but at some point, if we all just listen instead of talking over each other, perhaps a compromise could be reached that we are all happy with.

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