Living on a prayer: Australia in 2016

Angus Kidman 2 November 2016

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As Bon Jovi might ask: does it make a difference if we make it or not?

Tommy used to work on the docks. If Tommy worked in a coal export terminal in Australia, he'd earn $20.23 an hour under the award -- better than the current legal minimum wage of $17.70, but not by much.

Union's been on strike, he's down on his luck. In the June quarter, there were 60 industrial disputes across Australia, involving 20,500 employees. Tommy is not a lucky man. It's tough, so tough.

Gina works the diner all day. This also doesn't pay too well. The entry-level award wage for an adult in the fast food industry is $19.44 an hour, and women typically work fewer paid hours than men. At least she's not at 7-Eleven.

Working for her man, she brings home her pay, for love, for love. Based on those numbers, Tommy and Gina would earn roughly similar wages. Marrying wouldn't make much immediate difference to their financial status, but they'd have the option. Molly and Gina wouldn't be so lucky in Australia right now.

She says, we've got to hold on to what we've got. The average Aussie aims to save $728 per month. That's very unlikely for Tommy and Gina, since that would comprise almost a quarter of their pre-tax income.

It doesn't make a difference if we make it or not. Australians are living longer than ever, so Tommy and Gina are more likely to make it than not. The leading cause of death is heart disease, and the median age at death from that cause is 85.1.

OK, I'll stop now. You live for the fight when it's all that you've got.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

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