Life is better down under. That appears to be view of Tory MP Claire Perry who returned this week from a trip to Australia where she and two other MPs discussed defence issues with the Labour-controlled Canberra government.
But it also gave Marlborough’s outspoken former banker MP the opportunity to measure life in Australia, where she discovered the economy buoyant and there is no litter or dog dirt on the streets. And no doubt the fact that voting is compulsory in Australia and the banks are government regulated and kept under control.
She extolled the delights of life down under – her husband happens to be a New Zealander – in her weekly local newspaper column.
“At the macro level Australia has an economic confidence borne out of their mineral and resources export boom and the fact that their banks and households managed to escape the worst of the borrowing boom and crash that as bedevilled Britain,” says Claire, who is parliamentary private secretary to Defence Secretary Philip Hammond.
“The country has made great strides in sorting out their pension system and welfare plans and sits in one of the highest growth regions in the world. Militarily, it is benefiting from the new Pacific focus of the United States.”
And then she adds: “But it is the little things that are most noticeable. The streets of Australian cities are spotless with a complete absence of dog mess and chewing gum, even in the most heavily trafficked parts.
“Everyone, including people who have recently immigrated to the country, displays a quiet pride in belonging to the bigger Australian whole while celebrating their cultural differences.
“Children are comprehensively educated in constitutional and government matters and receive a subsidy from the government for visiting Canberra and seeing the government at work.”
And Mrs Perry told Marlborough News Online: “I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Australia as a guest for the Department of Defence which allowed me to get a first-hand look at various aspects of the Australian military forces and discuss how Britain and Australia might work together in the future.
“In a short space of time, I managed to meet Defence Ministers, tour shipyards, visit naval installations and the Australian Parliament as well as meet some of the country’s finest service personnel, including the Australian SAS.
“The UK and Australia already share a strong national bond through the military struggles over the last century and nowhere was this more evident than in my visit to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, dedicated to the 102,000 Australian soldiers who have lost their lives in conflict as well as being a national museum.”
She added: “I saw a lot which reinforced my belief that we can co-operate in many military areas –in combat and training operations, equipment supply and in the ever-growing field of cyber defence.
“Having now returned back to the UK, I will be briefing our Defence ministers on these findings soon.”