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Oz is great but it's not utopia

I agree with Patrick Butler (Letters, January 2). As one whose ancestry goes back to 1798 (first European settlement was 1788), I can speak with some authority on the state of the Australian nation.

I did smile and scratch my head as I read the utopian vision portrayed by David McWilliams.

Invasion Day is the name the Aboriginal people give to the first landing of British convicts at Botany Bay.

To this day, many Aborigines live in conditions so appalling it beggars belief.

Temperatures near 40C, combined with water shortages, bush fires, huge amounts of political mismanagement and corruption, constant despoliation of the environment, a concentration of jobs only in major cities where rents and property prices are exorbitant to say the least, and long trips (as in three to four hours per day) are common for commuters.

These facts should be borne in mind.

It is also an extremely litigious and 'red tape'-strangled society.

There are plenty of no-go areas in large cities and, in fact, in many country towns.

Certainly, nobody should ever feel for a moment that the wide open sunny countryside is safe to hitch a ride in. It is not.

Of course, Australia is a unique and beautiful country and, if you're born and bred there, it's in your heart and mind forever -- just as surely as Ireland is for millions of its diaspora.

It could be heaven on earth, if it weren't for the things people do to it.

But surely in this internet-savvy world, most people would know that any modern industrial country has its problems and especially one that has the frontier history of Australia.

An ancient culture and people began to perish the day my 19-year-old convict ancestor was unloaded from his transport ship.

Jane Gill
Birr Co Offaly

Irish Independent