Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Punjab Migrant Doctor's Tale

In "Passage to Wudinna", from the Focus magazine November 2005 (an Australian doctors magazine), the real life story of a Punjab doctor who came with his family to Australia only to leave rather quickly was recounted by the doctor himself.

It is hard to describe what this decision means to us. Before this, the question was "will I or won't I?", Now it is happening to us. Such a move requires great sacrifice. My mother, who is 66, will be left alone. I also have to leave behind a huge practice and a social network built up over many years.

I am first told that I will join a practice at Woomera, then a month later I was told I will be able to join a practice in Adelaide. All of sudden I get a call from my employer that I will be posted instead to Wudinna, on the Eyre Penisula.

We finally reach Adelaide. We are taken to Motel Granada. I have to carry all our luggage to our rooms; In Inda we have so many servants that we do not pick up even a small bag.

My boss takes me to the place where my future residence is still being renovated. It is slight out of town. There are no other homes nearby.

It looks like as if we are visiting a scene from a horror film. My whole family is demoralised.

The next day, Australia Day, I have to see only 5-6 patients the whole day. It is very boring.

Thre is no source of entertainment - no TV channels of interest. I am called in to attend to a patient that night, and I have to take the entire family with me, as no one wants to stay in that place without me.
In India, a lday alone in a far-flung house is an open invitation to rapists, robbers and other bad elements ...

We decide that night that we shall not stay here for three months; we wil go back in one month only.

Only one thing I can say - pure culture shock.

Doctors leaving India will leave behind:

a) all their servants,
b) most of your status - your patients do not fear you, and some can be very rude to you
c) patients who pay you nothing but expect everything (this is known as bulk billing)
d) big cities - Australia wants foreign doctors because they can compel migrant doctors to work in remote towns, akin to conscription. There aren't enough Australian doctors who want to work in these places, and for the politicians, getting doctors out to the bush is essential if they want to stay in office.
e) being a boss. You will work and earn money for somebody else, for possibly many years until you get your bearings.

But on the other hand, Australia is generally safe. There is a welfare system for those who could not find work, so people don't have to steal or rob.

The story also said that a migration agent said he could not migrate to Australia but for $500, he could see if "he could do something". Don't buy into this bullshit. You can contact the Department of Immigration directly and lodge forms yourself. There is no preferential treatment if you go through a migration agent. By the way, Australia is still short of doctors, doctors will have no problem in getting a visa.

If you are thinking about migrating and concerned, best thing to do is to find out from other migrant doctors. Alternatively, post your questions to me and I'll try my best to answer them.

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Million Dollar Quiz and Tax

The Tax Office wasn't going to comment on how much tax Rob Fulton owes following his win in the popular TV game show "Who wants to be a Millionaire".

The tax rate in Australia is 48.5% and 1.5% medicare. Rob could see up to half his winnings being pocketed by the Treasurer, and hopefully shared with the other 17 million Australians.

Under Australian Tax law, Rob has two ways to find out how much he owes:

1. He can obtain a Private Binding Ruling, detailing legal points for and against why he should not be taxed. For such a large winnings, he'll need to get a pretty good tax lawyer
2. He can pay up 50% of his winnings
3. He can elect not to pay, but risk an audit, which under Australia's tough self assessment laws can see him paying 50% penalty plus 14% interest. This could easily add up to more than 75% of his winnings.

The problem is Rob has been diligently preparing for his quiz shows for several years by studying magazines and reference books. Now one could term his winning as speculative but taxable income nontheless, similar to day traders who speculate on the stock market. In contrast, winnings due to raffles aren't taxable.

On the other hand, Rob could argue that he was able to participate in the game show only by chance, and all those studying would have come to nothing.

Maybe the Capital Gains tax would apply, since he has to give back a cheque worth $468,000 in order to take a chance on the million dollars.

Who knows? The tax legislation is heavy enough to kill someone.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Howard's quote of the day

WORKERS who believe they are being pressured to sign unfair new contracts "can always look for another job", Prime Minister John Howard said yesterday.

Let them eat cake - Mary Antoinette

Some how this doesn't gel with my understanding why politicians need lots of tax-payer funded superannuation. It's not like they are conscripted. Hey, if you don't like the money, get a real job.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Immigration reform reaches a dead end - Opinion -

George Newhouse, one of the lawyers representing Vivian Alvarez and Cornelia Rau, writes on further changes to the Migration Act
With legal aid and pro-bono lawyers exposed to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties, many will be forced to leave applicants unrepresented.

No wonder the minister Vanstone says she is not responsible. The Prime Minister effectively dictates the kind of policies that gives the DIMIA carte blanche.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Where can I get a copy of the Australian Law?

Lots of web searches seem to end up here about finding out more about Australian Law.

If you are looking for legislation, then there are State legislation, and Federal legislation.

For Federal legislation, go to ComLaw, and in the search box titled "Find current law", type in the Title - "Income Tax Act" and hit search. You can also search for a phrase in the second box below. Try "Border protection".

The Queensland state legislation can be found here. Select the Search tab, and check "Acts as passed", and type in your search phrase. Trying "speeding".

Alternately click on the Legislation tab on top. It's organized like they would appear in shelves of your friendly lawyer.