Sydney = Home
Since my last post, we have had 3 very fascinating discussions. The first was with the US Consulate’s office. There we met with the head of Diplomate Security, NCIS, FBI, IRS and the US Consulate General himself (former ambassador to Madagascar). Each position was rather unique yet carried out the same mission…. “to ensure the safety and efficiency of our US foreign services members and diplomates as they carry out the diplomacy of the USA” I can’t think of a more awesome job then to carry out the international diplomatic strategy of the USA – stationed in Sydney Australia. If it wasn’t enough, the US Consulate is located in the penthouse of one of Sydney’s tallest buildings….. the views are about as plush as the jobs themselves. We were very fortunate to have such powerful players in the Dept. of State take time out of their jobs to meet with us.
We also had the privilage to meet with a partner of both Ernst and Young and Baker McKenzie. Ernst and Young gave the perspective of a consulting firm while Baker McKenzie was from an attorney perspective. While both unique, both were very much the same. White Collar crimes are becoming more and more frequent and not just in Australia, but around the world. While the USA hands down heafty fines for bribery and corruption, Australia does not. White collare crimes are seen as very different in Australia. For example, while at the US Consulate, one of the govt. heads said…. “see… crime does not pay, it never pays in the long run.” At Ernst and Young, however, we learned about one gentleman who stole 6 million dollars and only 4 million was recovered. Leaving 2 million unaccounted for. The man got 2 years in prison. When one does the math, thats 1 million dollars per year spent in an Australian prison. That actually pays well, very very well. The attitudes are just different in our countries. Australian’s seem to have other priorities with life….like a constant 77 and sunny climate.
We ended our academic proponents by taking a trip down to the Sydney District Court where we had breakfast with a judge and court administrator. We sat in on a felony drug smuggling case for their closing arguments. A few things to note was the intensity in which the jury was taking notes and looking through individual binders and books. They each had a desk if you will. A rather disturbing difference from the USA. Also, in Austalia, the barrister is the attorney who talks in court while the solicitor is the attorney you go to when you get in trouble. They work together as a team. The judges and barristers still wear old white powder wigs. Barristers just take an extended 6 month course after law school, allowing them to make as much as 10k a day! Judges can get around 1500 a day…. pretty loco, but considering that a vitamin water in Sydney will set you back about $8.oo US, the increased sallaries are SOMEWHAT justified.
On my last blog I spent a lot of time embracing the culture of Sydney… and as I sit in the Sydney airport awaiting my flight to Cairns, I can’t help but to continue that discussion. Although I had mentioned earlier that I could see myself living in Iron Cove, that was until I went to Manly. Manly is a north shore beach and neighborhood that is every bit as classy as Sydney, but with a beach casual twist. While there, we dined on buckets upon buckets of prawns and took in the local brew while watching the sunburnt surfers make thier way back home. Other than the occasional swag shop, nothing about it seemed to be touristy. It just seemed like the perfect place to live.
Finally, I must briefly mention Bondi Beach as it is one of the most iconic beaches in the world. As one decends the hills into the cove the wonders of its reputation come to light. Pristine and sexy all at once. We spent the afternoon worshipping the sun and asking ourselves…. “is this real life?” As the sun began to slowly set, we made our way to the Bucket List — an A-list beach lounge where you lay upon couches with Jugs…. listing to trendy music… just above the Bondi waves.
Needless to say, we left Sydney with a bang…. only to now begin our adventure to THE Reef.