Tuesday, September 09, 2003


They still call Australia home?

“Lure”, “tantalising”, “new challenges”, “attractive” – get real, Peter Huck. When your sledgehammer-subtle spin is removed from the story, LA is just a place where talented young Australians can actually make a living – something denied to them (and me) in their (my) land of birth. It’s probably time I joined them – imagine living and working in a land where “ageism” is understood as discrimination against the old, rather than the young!

Naturally, most first generation emigrants don’t see themselves as that, but as life-long expats. The giveaway word in Huck’s story is “wistfully” – Australia, like Ireland, is susceptible to a mawkish collective nostalgia that may take several generations to be bred out. Going hand in hand with this sentimentality is what is other otherwise a surprisingly generous latitude among emigrants about their reasons for leaving Australia:

Almost everyone I spoke with mentioned that at some point their careers had hit a ceiling in Australia.

Very few people whose careers “hit a ceiling” – meaning a plateau in promotion and/or pay rise – would make a drastic decision to emigrate into the wild blue yonder. To motivate such a move, a better metaphor is that the ceiling caved in on them in Australia.

Bob Birrell, like the 1980s Redgum song, believes that the brain drain will “be all right in the long run”.

Yeah, Bobby boy, I hear the pipes, the pipes a’calling too, from dole queue to queue, and down the third world slide.

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