A Reply To Comments

10 March 2009

You’re a great bunch.  I’ve had lots of comments lately – maybe the lure of a prize this month, or maybe you’re all waking up after a long hard winter (Northern Hemisphere) or a long hard summer (down here).

So I’d like to comment on your comments.

First of all, Liz (in England) wants to know if schoolgirls in Australia wear trousers.  Well, I’ve certainly never seen any in Sydney but maybe others could enlighten me. They tend to wear the same pleated skirts we wore when we were young.

Secondly, WittyKnitter pointed out an omission from my last post.  I also noticed that the stepfather who made this poor 9 year old girl pregnant doesn’t appear to have been excommunicated, but I forgot to mention it.  Child rape in Brazil is obviously not considered such a mortal sin. 

And thirdly, Judith (who’s also in England).  She’s been away lately so rather quiet on my blog.  But she’s back!   

On the subject of maternity pay, I understand the problems you talk about but we already have those.  Australian employees may not be given maternity PAY, but they do get maternity LEAVE (presumably employers would rather their staff didn’t give birth in the Ladies Toilets).  They are entitled not to be sacked and to have their jobs left available for them.  So there is already the problem of filling a temporary vacancy until such time as the employee decides whether she intends to return to work. 

Judith also mentioned compulsory voting.  I have mixed feelings about that (I’ve discussed it here before) but the argument that is used here to counter hers is that nobody is FORCED to vote.  If they wish to protest or just don’t fancy any of the candidates, they can put the blank paper straight into the ballot box – or write obscenities on it if they wish.  But they HAVE to turn up.   

And Judith also talked about crossing the road.  (Note to Judith – and I can say this because she’s my sister.  If you’re going to introduce other subjects before I get the chance to, I’ll run out of things to say.  The Australian method of crossing the road was on my list.  Remember I have to blog every day this month!)

When I first came to Australia in the 70’s, I got stopped by the police for crossing the road when the little green man wasn’t showing.  I had no idea it was actually against the law.  A few weeks ago, I was waiting at a junction to cross with lots of other people when it dawned on me that no car had driven past for quite a while.  As far as I could see in all directions, there were no vehicles moving.  I think the lights had broken.  So I crossed the road.  Nobody else did.

What I find strange is that Australians have a reputation for being anti-authority but I find them much more law-abiding than Europeans.  In England and a lot of the rest of Europe (have you ever been to Paris?), so many of these rules are just treated as guidelines. 

Thanks for all your comments.  I’ve heard from 23 of you in the first week of my blogathon.  Please keep them coming.



  1. I agree about the doing as your told thing. I think Australians are a very obedient bunch. I found in the UK that they were always middle fingering authority.

    Except when queueing for sandwiches in small hole in the wall shops or busses. Then they were very docile!

  2. Schoolgirls who go to public schools in Australia definitely wear trousers in winter (and at my old school, shorts in summer). I think the ones in the pleated skirts (and sometimes tunics!) are mainly private schoolgirls – not always, I know, but predominantly – at least where I live now anyway!

  3. I didn’t realise that the pregnant employee’s job HAD to be kept open. Comes from pontificating from 12,000 miles away…

    Sorry also about pre-empting your crossing the road blog. I was in a small outback hamlet at 8 o’clock on a Sunday morning when I crossed a totally empty road, with visability of about half a mile in each direction, against the green man. The only other pedestrian on the street asked me if I wanted to get myself killed! The only hazard I could think of were aircraft falling out of the sky.

    What are obligatory in Rome, advisory in Turin and Christmas tree decorations in Naples? Traffic lights!

  4. Point of fact, Ms Pompom: you don’t get excommunicated for a mortal sin. You can take that to confession and be forgiven. You get excommunicated for bringing the church into disrepute, I think. It has to be something public and against some Really Big Rule of the church: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Excommunication And here’s the list of people who
    ve been excommunicated, which is also interesting – they’re mostly church officials gone bad or public officals who’ve damaged the church in some way: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_excommunicated_by_the_Roman_Catholic_Church

    When you read that list, the mother of the girl looks pretty stupid among that lot of Really Important People who have upset the order of the church in some systemic way, doesn’t she?

  5. A) I think my divorce put me on the S$%t list with the church. Stained glass windows wobble, if not actually shatter, when I walk near.
    2) In the US, we have the Family Medical Leave Act allowing up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave time in any 12-month period for birth or adoption of a child, a serious medical condition of the employee or an immediate family member where the employee needs to care for them.

    Although the law says it only applies to companies where there are 50+ employees in a 75 mile radius, it plays hell with offices where only a small group are qualified/trained to do a certain task.
    “Quick, get the janitor up here. We’re short a brain surgeon because his wife had a baby last week. We’ll need to train him in a hurry.”

  6. DD wore trousers all through High School winter terms [end of April to end of September], so the answer, in short, is ‘yes’! They were optional but preferred by many [if not most] of the girls.

  7. I wore trousers, in winter, throughout high school. This was about 25 years ago. They were much warmer. There wasn’t an alternative to skirts or dresses for Summer though. When I switched to a private school, (I had a terrible time at my local state high school) there were only dresses and skirts to choose from.

    And on the road thing – I’ve noticed that people dodge traffic in inner-city suburbs such as Glebe, but tend to be more law abiding when crossing the road in the outer suburbs.

  8. I just found your blog by listening to some old podcasts of David Reidy. I’m spending some time looking around on my day off.

    I had to laugh at your crossing-the-street-against-the-light story. Years ago, natives of Seattle (Washington USA) didn’t usually jaywalk. You used to be able to pick out the “newcomers” because they did cross on the red light. Now, though, I guess it’s more common for everyone to do that. I think it’s all those lattes everyone’s drinking. But I haven’t lived in Seattle for 20 years so I can’t consider myself in the know.

  9. Not only do school girls in Australia wear trousers in summer a lot of the school girls wear shorts and even shorts under skirts. Shorts are a standard inclusion in a lot of the public school uniforms.

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