Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Open 'Lies' in China

- Post is unfinished as of 6/6/2016-

I just came back from a week long travel experience with Macquarie International, my current workplace and pride of my tertiary education experience in recent memory.

And it has proven to me at the very least, the huge disparity between what international student's think they are getting with an offer from this university, (sometimes having sunk what is the equivalent of what is typically a year's salary in China) to send their children off to an institution, filling them with hopes and dreams of an fruitful, eye opening and expansive educational experience.

This isn't to say that it is a bad experience, but there are some huge marketing tricks (I would shy away from the term lie) that simply dupe so many students every year into walking through our doors.

1. Friendships experience (Social setting and adaptability)

2. English language proficiency

3. Ability to find jobs and work experience

In my case I have been incredibly fortunate to have experienced some of the best experiences this university has to offer. 1. student groups. 2. short term exchange 3. international projects 4.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Team Australia!

This post is unfinished as of 23/04/16

 Seeing how the country you were born and raised in is seen through the lens of the international community is occasional a sobering experience. It may shine a light on our problems that other nations may have solved in parallel years ago, while simultaneously presenting waves of gratitude wash over as you truly begin to recognise how lucky you are with the opportunities and circumstances you have been afforded with as a citizen.

 My experience however, was one of confusion followed almost immediately by one of annoyance. The narratives told to our international neighbours and the narrative told domestically were almost at complete odds with each other. Were we talking about the same bloody country? Let me explain.

 I’ll start off with something intrinsically legal: Government regulation. The story I hear commonly is that government regulation inhibits businesses from doing their jobs properly, imposes arbitrary standards on our food production, manufacturing and services sector. There is validity to this, with privatisation of our banks freeing our financial sector to strengthen to today’s levels. 

 But the Australian story in China trumpets our strong and effective regulations. In a country where  systemic poor food handling practices leads to routine outbreaks of poisonous or dangerous foods, doing business in Australia is an iron-clad guarantee that our banks will not collapse, our food will arrive un-spoilt and that our loans and dues are backed up by the enforcement of the government.

 Secondly, our track record on clean energy is ironically raised. Glossy magazines of the wind-farms our current ambassador to the US called a “blight to the landscape” emphasise the strength and innovation of the Australian energies sector. Indeed at one point we were leading the world in photovoltaic technologies, cut budgets and lack of public support has unfortunately left this in the dust.

 Thirdly, we sell ourselves as providers of a world-class education at a more value-for-money price range than our British or American counterparts.

 Little do they know that our high schools have been getting their money siphoned off into private schools, deregulation of our university fees have been at the heart of our 





 Finally I want to address an issue close to home: Innovation. For the past 18 months, I have been fortunate enough to work part-time for what in my view is one of the world’s most innovative technologies. Once, I bumped into the founder of Google maps at work, and have witnessed some of the greatest technological minds speak at our training summits in the Google Pyrmont office. But this level of innovation is not indicative of Australia, and we are notoriously known overseas for taking the American stance of labelling Chinese innovation as an oxymoron: Isn’t that just a nation of copycats in the wild west of copyright protection and enforcement?

 In fact, chinese innovation has not grown and developed itself into this powerhouse despite its weak copyright laws. Rather, its historically weak legal structure has contributed to one of the world’s fastest growing industries in a national context, and it is apparent that the ever-important rule of law is fast catching up to be able to meet the contractual obligations to do business overseas: an ideal very much eyed by the Communist Party.

 Indeed, Australia has always pitched itself as an innovative country. In many ways we are; our citizens invented the notebook, the CSIRO invented plastic sheet banknotes, Aero-guard and WiFi (in conjunction with Macquarie University of course) and Google maps was invented and continues to be maintained in-house by a couple Sydney based software engineers.

 But as our government continues to sap money away from one of Australia’s most effective commonwealth bodies, a body that has contributed to the world in wireless technology and financial transaction regulations untold ways, it is not only Australia who loses in prestige and attracted royalties, humanity loses in lost innovation.

 Ultimately, this is a long list to digest and is inevitably interwoven with my own political views, despite my experience in working at what should be an intrinsically non-partisan arm of the government. But I do espouse this: That our key strengths, indeed what qualities huge populations abroad see Australia as, is slowly and purposefully being dismantled by this and the previous administration’s government. I am afraid that many things that we should be holding proud today may not exist given current trajectory. 

In my personal capacity, I hope change comes around sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

That One Time at Law Camp

Oh, to be in first year again. I can certainly tell you what was like in back in my old days. Getting shit-faced, making out with some random girl with an interest in politics and spending the entirety of the second day trying to stave away boredom as 200 odd students try to fit into a kayak and lake. Honestly, most of us were just biding our time to get drunk for the second night in a row.

 But of course, things look slightly different when you’re in the party organising things, especially when you aren’t allowed to drink a sip of alcohol. The students look vulnerable for what they are, lonely individuals looking to fit into a group of people who exist within a bubble of being so-called genuises of their generation (or whatever prestige a law degree carries these days anyway). They dance awkwardly, drink a little too much, over-compliment and smile just to find some sort of reciprocal from you as a respondent. On my part my core is still shy so I didn't befriend many other people either, but I guess I'm not so into that sort of thing at my age anymore anyway/

 Looking at the event on a logitical level, with this level of planning that goes into all the events throughout the day and evening, I truly have to tip my hat off to MT and MB for booking such a fun place to go to, the interesting tests of co-ordination and skill in the micro-challenges overseen by the executive, and of course ensuring that enough alcohol was present to give everyone involved a healthy buzz throughout the weekend.

On a completely different note, I’ve caught a bad case of feelings for someone. She looks a bit like an elf, or a pixy,  or some sort of fantastical creature with an equally fantastical level of grace and charm. Well, grace might not be the most appropriate word, but she will make the most senile, racist, old, conservative man with his lips puckered sucking on a sour warhead candy, laugh and melt a little bit inside. At least I melted on a few occasions, anyway.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

New Asia

This post is unfinished as of 30/1/16

I am in the middle of some of the best months of my life. These days I know I will look back with fond nostalgia. Waking up everyday with a smile and fervour to learn new things about my home country and its relationship (both diplomatic and economic) in the country you've set foot in. Interacting every day with genuinely friendly faces at security, friendly faces at work and friendly faces at lunch to open up your mind and to do so to others on different social and business settings.

 I am in Guangzhou, China right now and I am having the time of my life.

 For many in my generation, our career prospects are not always the brightest. We have three main things weighing down our hopes and dreams.

 1. Automation

This will undoubtedly be one of the issues that will affect the next generation the most, automation is set to replace a whole suite of entry level and mid-tier jobs in our future. Industries such as basic hospitality, fast food, accounting and even basic legal services have been flagged for complete and utter destruction in the years to come. With entry level jobs being the first of the many rungs on the ladder of career progression, this important first step may increasingly be more and more difficult to climb for young people across the world.

 2. Financial Crisis

Contrary to what you hear so frequently from the corporate media, global tremors in financial markets have actually been quite a recent thing. Based on my limited knowledge of economic history, the only truly global financial crisies have been the Great Depression (caused by a gross over-valuation of various American stocks) and the Asian Financial crisis (caused by bubbles resulting from the rapid, unsustainable growth experienced by East Asian countries such as post-war Japan and South Korea. 

 But the GFC was acutely felt by us. Millions of dollars wiped from the share-market, pensions, retirement hodings, property value and most importantly: jobs, were wiped out in a few short months. My dad was not immune, and he was subsequently let go from Leighton, one of Australia's premier civil engineering companies. 

 The bad news is that there almost inevitably will be another crisis. The writing is on the wall, as a global community we failed to address the systemic causes of the banking crash and the greedy, corrupt practices that toppled the first dominoes certainly exist today. 
 3. International Competition

Looking around Guangzhou, there are million of people in this city (15 to be precise). Many of them young, hungry, and most importantly: increasingly able to speak English. The one advantage that we in the West have in being able to freely communicate in what is essentially the world standard of languages has so far been quite effective in keeping our economies and industries stable. But one day, China and India will be set to be the worlds first and second most populated English speaking countries in the world. We can start to see the beginnings of this process already. Jobs in the manufacturing and technology sector have increasingly been shipped offshore in favour of cheaper, more skilled and enthusiastic workers abroad. Again, this won't affect our generation nearly as much but remains as a concern 

 It is with all of these considerations raised that I recognise that I am truly lucky to have found what I feel is my actual passion and path to achieve it so early on.