Thursday, February 19, 2015

Australia - Heaven for Tradies and Gardeners!

My daughter’s part-time gardener hails from Malaysia. I was surprised to learn that she had graduated from the University of Melbourne with a degree in one of the neurosciences. She is apparently smart, and pretty too. She told me she was brought up in the affluent Damansara Utama in Petaling Jaya.

What a waste, I thought.

My son-in-law corrected me. He says she has the best job in town! At A$45 per hour, she earns much more than many of staff, most of whom are lawyers from good universities, in his legal practice.

No wonder I see so many gardeners and tradies in our neighbourhood every day! Australia is fast becoming a heaven for them!
I was trying to help my son sell his car recently. I sent it to Ara Damansara for polishing. If I remember correctly, the job cost me M$200. I thought it was quite steep for a job of this nature until…

“Pa, I have asked a chap to come and polish your car. He will also do one of mine. I am leaving A$700 on the table for him,” my son-in-law casually mentioned before he left for his office one morning a couple of days ago.

What? A$350 for each car? I said and looked incredulously to my wife. In the first place, my car did not need a polish. (I did give it a rub myself some months ago, albeit not a great job.) The car is being housed in the garage and only sees the sun when we go out. Although it is five years old, my car has done only 40K kilometres. I am most stingy when it comes to expenses like this. But my wife thought I should not reject son-in-law's good intention.

She reminds me: We are living in Australia!

Very true indeed! I once sent my car for a hand wash; it cost me A$55. A similar job in Malaysia costs between M$10 to 12. A fraction of Australia's. A routine service would cost me about A$1K; fortunately, I need only to service my car once a year.

Australia is a place where tradies and gardeners earn a good living. A date with a plumber or an electrician will make your poorer by a couple of hundred Australian dollars. Typically they will charge about A$100 to attend to you, but just for the first 15 minutes. Anything above that will be clocked and billed at a rate of say, A$60 an hour. No wonder their wives are the new thai-thais (bosses’ wives in Chinese) in town. Your graduate wife has to slog whole day to earn A$40K a year!

During the commodity boom, a dump truck driver commanded a salary of A$200K a year. A chap who flips the “Stop” and “Slow” placard on a stretch of roadwork gets A$45 an hour. A tyre puncture fix will cost you A$25. So on and so forth…

Why go to university?

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