According to some immigrants and tourists visiting Australia, there are a number of things that aren’t up to scratch Down Under.
A Reddit user recently posed this question: “Immigrants to Australia: What does your native country do better than Australia?” The comment thread that stemmed from that question gave an interesting insight into what people moving here from overseas actually think of their adopted country. These are some of the things that people think are the biggest shortcomings.
This one might sting for many Australians, as the Aussie barbecue has become part of our national identity. One person originally from Brazil wrote, “We do barbecues way better,” with another poster agreeing, saying: “Australian here who has been to Brazil several times and can confirm the barbecue is much better over there.”
Another poster said: “Australia needs to admit they have sh*t barbecues. Seriously, a sausage on a gas grill is not in the same league as South American and American, low and slow, and cooking with coal and wood.”
One Canadian living in Australia wrote on the thread: “I’d add on private power and the blight that is the NBN. Canadian telecommunications is world-renowned as crap, but down here the NBN said, ‘Hold my XXXX Gold and watch this.’” However he did say, in Australia’s defence: “Car insurance, cheese and cell phones are heaps cheaper so you do indeed win some and lose some.”
CHARGING FOR CONDIMENTS
User SobaSauce wrote: “How on Earth are they charging for condiments? Fifty cents for a teaspoon of ketchup is crazy.” And look, frankly, we agree.
Plenty of British and American expats missed the supermarkets from their country of origin, especially the great ready-made meals at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and M&S in the UK. Magpie 1862, originally from the UK, wrote: “Our supermarkets are a lot better than Coles and Woolworths and have a much wider variety of food.” Another person agreed, saying: “Have to agree about UK supermarkets, they’re brilliant. Coles and Woolworths not even in the same ballpark. Only reason the locals are passable these days is because Aldi put a rocket up their bum. Hate to think what they’d be like without that competition.”
One user wrote: “OK … your TV absolutely sucks … like on such epic scale I don’t know where to begin. News are not real news, just short clips between some benign laughable crap. And then those amazing tips and tricks they do … like what the hell is that … to save money shop less … or to save water have less showers … to find better prices shop around? Surely this would be treated as insult in my country to even show this kind of dumbed down entertainment.”
Another person wrote: “Genuine question, why on Earth are Australian TV ads so terrible?” Someone replied to say: “Australia is really bad at creative content BUT Australian reality TV is par excellent. We really masterfully produce trash.”
S OCIAL PROGRESS
One user wrote that Australia was quite backwards when it came to social progress.
“Canada had marriage equality ages ago,” they wrote. “Returning land to First Nations was done decades before I was born. Marijuana legalised a few years back. Medical marijuana maybe 15 years ago. Separation of church and state. No religion in public schools going back to the ’70s. It’s tough watching the Government fight kicking and screaming against social progress that the nation has ALREADY MADE. The marriage equality vote was a landslide.” User InfiniteSea agreed, adding: “Marriage equality being so fresh and the impact of religion in politics/education here is … very different.”
LIMITED ACCESS TO THE COUNTRYSIDE
A British user bemoaned the fact that Australia doesn’t have “rights of way” like they do in the UK. Orlock wrote: “Australian national parks are awesome, but the network of footpaths across the countryside in the UK is a great way of making it accessible.” Another chimed in, writing: “Agreed. Being able to wander through paddocks and farmland is great.”
Reddit member HereForTheFish, originally from Germany, wrote: “I think the health insurance system is better in Germany. I became eligible for Medicare last year and couldn’t believe that I had to get additional insurance for ambulance rides or basic dental work.” A Canadian agreed, writing: “I miss healthcare in Canada where there is zero gap for seeing a GP or getting an ultrasound/medical imaging.”
THE WAY WE TREAT THE ELDERLY
A European expat wrote that they were stunned by the way Australians treated the ageing population. “I was shocked that so many people just bundled their parents off to an aged care facility,” she wrote. “In Europe and so many parts of Asia the grandparents tend to move in with their offspring in their later years … it makes so much more sense. And both the grandparents and grandchildren get so much from that close relationship.”
INTERACTION WITH INDIGENOUS CULTURE
One commenter wrote: “I would say embracing the Indigenous culture is a real shortcoming. New Zealand is one of the few nations that I think have done it right, and it was amazing having Maori culture as a part of everyday life. And even though South Africa definitely has a long way to go on dealing with racism (apartheid was still a thing in my lifetime, and I was only born in the ’90s) there was still a lot more integration or presence of the native culture. Food, music, clothing, language. To this day my strongest memories of South Africa and the few trinkets I have from there are heavily influenced by that culture. Biltong and mielie pap, Ndebele dolls and beautiful handwoven items, bright African print fabrics, any music with a Zulu influence makes me a little homesick. And the markets in South Africa where you’d find a lot of this stuff. Sorry Queen Victoria market, you’ve got nothing on them.”
APPROACH TO FOOD
AnonForOtherReasons wrote: “One thing above all else that France does better is their reverence for meals. Like, not just the food, but the act of sitting down together for a meal. This flows on to a number of other things that are better, but the fact that all of France stops at midday for an hour or two for lunch, every day, is where it all stems from.”
A poster originally from the UK wrote: “I came over from England with my family when I was about 10, and the biggest shock to me was the difference in curriculum. I went to, what is apparently, the best private school in the area, and they didn’t even teach us geography. Where we learned about the history of Queensland, and tectonic plates. We had the choice of only two languages, Japanese and German? Graphics and IT were essentially the same class, the only difference was the teacher. And science from year 7-10 was taught by the man that was also the German teacher, and was so religious that he neglected huge sections of our lessons because he personally didn’t believe them to be true, leaving us completely unprepared for state-approved exams and such. Granted, that school was exceptionally sh*t. But I’ve been in Australia for about 20 years now and any time school comes up with friends, they share very similar stories. It’s genuinely terrifying.”
Ou r cycling infrastructure
OpenlyJayWalking wrote that Australia had a lot of work to do to make cycling safer and easier for people. He said that “basically every country in western Europe” could teach Australia a thing or two about cycling infrastructure.
THE WAY OUR HOUSES ARE SET UP
Malaysian user NewYearOldMe wrote: “One thing I noticed – that the structure of the house is that the living room is at the back of the house. Hence, the street is dead eerie in the night. In Malaysia, the living room is in the front, so you can see lights coming from every house and maybe some faint TV noises make you feel a little at ease.”
Another person agreed, saying: “Same with India, the streets are always well lit and you have the hustle bustle until late into the night. Aussie suburbs are dead eerie no doubt.” User I_accost_you also marvelled at the way Aussie houses are set up, writing: “I’ve always wondered that too, hate that most of the bedrooms are at the front of the house.”
OUR MEAT PIES
Again, another slightly upsetting one, as meat pies are a bit of a source of pride for Aussies. A Kiwi in Australia wrote: “This might be controversial, but I think New Zealand has better meat pies.” User KidMonkey agreed, saying New Zealand’s pies were better, as there was more butter in the pastry. Another person wrote that they had way better pies in the UK and that Aussie pies were highly overrated.