NOT THE AUS­TRALIA I USED TO LOVE ALL THESE YEARS

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - OPINION -

All good things in life come to an end sooner or later. Some would ar­gue Aus­tralia is a prime ex­am­ple. I lasted 51 years, from age 19 to 70, with­out get­ting any fines. (I did get one park­ing ticket though).

Now 73, I have vivid mem­o­ries of that day in Tully in 2013 which changed my life as I moved my Land­cruiser. It was an ab­so­lute head turner. Well, that spoilt my 51-year record. Since then, fines have been rain­ing down on me.

I’m still the same, I haven’t changed. Aus­tralia has. And not for the bet­ter. Nowa­days the coun­try I loved for the first 25-30 years is a lost cause as I see it, over­gov­erned, over­reg­u­lated and over­priced.

Plus, it’s so hope­lessly in debt – the Chi­nese must be laugh­ing all the way to the bank.

The re­sponse from state gov­ern­ments to their ap­palling fi­nan­cial po­si­tions? Hit peo­ple out there and hit them hard for even the most triv­ial of­fences.

OK, I did blow .1 that night at Tully and I’m not sug­gest­ing that’s triv­ial. But, at age 70, it was my first of­fence and ear­lier that day I did learn that two rel­a­tives of mine in Den­mark had died.

I was fined $1200 plus Of­fender Levy. That took the whole thing up to more than $1300, paid out of my pen­sion, all I have now. My su­per’s gone, my sav­ings too.

I am cur­rently pay­ing off an­other fine, worth $450. I learnt my les­son and this time, last Novem­ber, I did not hire a lawyer and rep­re­sented my­self.

I got off lightly and have the ut­most re­spect for the mag­is­trate who showed com­pas­sion and le­niency.

Come late Fe­bru­ary I have an­other court ap­pear­ance com­ing up. My rel­a­tives in Den­mark think I’m kid­ding.

This one is be­cause I took my seat­belt off too soon, a few me­tres be­fore park­ing my car at Mt Car­bine. I was do­ing less than 20 km/h and didn’t see the con­sta­ble be­hind a truck. The scene was elec­tric, the at­mos­phere rev­enuecharged and un­der the cir­cum­stances I didn’t see the point in telling him the seat­belt was cut­ting into my in­jured shoul­der.

Just as a I thought I could see a bit of light, I’m now star­ing at yet an­other fine ($545), from the Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment, threat­en­ing to can­cel my car reg­is­tra­tion un­less I cough up. It’s tan­ta­mount to

ex­tor­tion. I chal­lenged the fine at the time be­cause I thought I had a fair case.

Vicroads didn’t get back to me un­til now via the Sher­iff’s Of­fice. The fine has put on weight, con­sid­er­ably.

I’ve had enough. All I want is to go back to Den­mark, so I can see out the last few years in peace, and with qual­ity of life, no longer pos­si­ble for a lot of pen­sion­ers here.

Er­ling Petersen, Ju­lat­ten

re­belling at the treat­ment by the lo­cal coun­cil and the re­duc­tion of their al­lowance.

A first class pro­duc­tion per­fectly pre­sented — ac­co­lades to all the cast and crew.

Pe­ter Mer­rick, Moss­man

Paws pres­i­dent Michael ac­cepts a cheque from Greg Pot­ter. In­set: The bowlers rep­re­sent­ing Bally Hoo­ley: Daryl Hoskin (left) and Char­lie Toohey

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