Family index simply sticks to the figures
IT irks me that a bank releases a report ranking cities in regard to quality of life for families without taking into account qualitative factors.
Please stop reading this right now, step outside, stop the first person you meet and ask them why they live in Cairns. Go on, off you go. I'll still be here when you return ...
Hello again. Welcome back. I hope you locked the door behind you because the crime rate in Cairns is alarmingly high, which contributed to our so-called tropical paradise ranking an orphaned 27th on the Family Friendly City Index released this week by Suncorp Bank.
In essence, Suncorp gave the thumbs down to Sun Incorporated.
Yet I'm confident the person you just stopped in the street, after realising you didn't wish to sell them something or convert them to your faith, replied that they live here precisely because it's a great place to raise a family, provided that family has hats.
I'm not big on banks. I was when they offered customers a safer place to store their hard-earned than under a posturepedic and loaned money for essential items to those well-placed to pay it back. But then they morphed into money making ventures rather than vaults.
Driving to work this week I heard a report on how Iceland's banks went from watertight institutions to being submerged in a sea of debt.
I didn't hear the entire report because my drive to work doesn't take long. That's one of the reasons I live in Cairns, because peak hour is more like peak minute and I can spend more time with my family.
But I don't think Suncorp factored stuff like that into their report.
According to the bank's executive manager the report only examined quantifiable data and avoided subjective factors such as lifestyle and environment.
Never mind that it's precisely such subjective factors that make Cairns family-friendly.
Anyway, back to the banks.
Up until 15 years ago, explained the Icelander in a globalised language, financial institutions in his country were safe places to store savings and get a loan if you could prove you weren't a credit risk.
Then they became privatised and run by gung-ho financiers who found a myriad of ways to make money with other people's savings.
The man used a variety of words for these ways to make money but I'm afraid I didn't understand the literal meaning or implications of most of them.
As it turns out, neither did the financiers.
This saw Iceland's banks go from safe havens to placing the entire country on the brink of bankruptcy.
I'm singling out Iceland purely because it's an interesting micro-study of a macro-problem.
US banks, mortgage lenders, ratings agencies and hedge fund managers were equally irresponsible.
If you haven't seen Inside Job, a documentary narrated by Matt Damon, I highly recommend it, with a punching bag on hand.
The people who dug this pit for us are still wielding diamond-encrusted shovels.
In stark and safe comparison, Australia's banks have been much more responsible.
I trust my bank not to bankrupt me.
But after, or during, a global financial crisis caused by galling greed and irresponsible lending practices, it irks me that a bank releases a report ranking cities in regards to quality of life for families without taking into account qualitative factors.
That would be like me writing a revue of a restaurant based on the plates rather than the food.
Cairns has a lot of lowlights which the report duly highlights.
Unemployment is its Achilles heel, which there aren't enough jobs in podiatry to fix.
But show me a city removed from the mining boom where the term "job security" isn't fast becoming an oxymoron.
Crime rates are also high; the CBD needs to sit down and watch one of these ubiquitous make-over shows; access to certain medical specialists can be such an ordeal it's bad for your health; quality of education; a two-speed economy, the list goes on ...
Numbers are numbers. I'm not questioning the bank's ability to count. What I am questioning is the report's self-confessed disregard for the subjective.
The simple things in life are subjective, such as being close to nature, breathing in clean (if humid) air, going to the beach for a picnic and not have to pay for parking, visiting your local park equipped with swings, mown grass and minimal graffiti, getting home from work in time to have a swim in a pool you'd never be able to afford in some of the cities higher up the list, unless you borrowed a fortune from a bank.
To my mind, this report has reaffirmed rather than thrown into question just why Cairns is family friendly.
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Family-friendly: Chris Harrison believes Suncorp's report misses the crucial aspects about quality of life in Cairns.