Lets Talk About – The Death Penalty

You will have no doubt heard by now that convicted Australian drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed by firing squad overnight in Indonesia.  Arrested in 2005 in Denpasar, along with 7 other young Australians for attempting to smuggle over 8kg of heroin from Indonesia to Australia, they have spent the last 10 years in prison, awaiting their fate.  They were the only two sentenced to death as they were ‘the ringleaders’ of the smuggling operation. Despite numerous appeals for clemency, by both their legal team and members of the Australian government, there was never much hope that the Indonesian government would repeal the sentence.

We as Australians find the concept of convicted felons being executed for their crimes very hard to comprehend.  NSW was the last state in Australia to abolish the death penalty in 1985 and Ronald Ryan was the last person to be executed anywhere in Australia in 1967. There are 37 countries that maintain the death penalty in both law and practice {SOURCE} Although some recent horrific crimes saw some people call for the reintroduction of the death penalty for serious crimes such as murder, rape and child abduction.  The cases of Anita Cobby and Danial Morcombe spring to mind.

Before I go any further I should say now that I have the deepest sympathy for the families of these two men.  I could not imagine what it must have been like for their families to say their final goodbyes.  But I’m not sure I have a lot of sympathy for these two men themselves.

You may think I am being very harsh and unjust taking this view.

But, the fact of the matter is they KNEW what they were doing – the drugs were strapped to their bodies.  When they made that decision they would have been well aware that Indonesian law allows for the execution of drug smugglers. They would have been well aware that fellow Australian Schapelle Corby was already languishing in Kerobokan Gaol following her arrest for smuggling cannabis into Indonesia.

In Australia, if you help administer a dose of heroin (or any drug to a person) and they die as a result of that you can be charged with Manslaughter – one of the proofs of which is – something that a reasonable and prudent person wouldn’t do.  Surely smuggling drugs is something that a reasonable and prudent person wouldn’t do.

Why do I not have much sympathy for drug smugglers and drug dealers?  Because I know first hand the damage that drugs do to hundreds of Australian families every single year.  I know this because our family has experienced this first hand.  A close family member died in 1997 of a drug overdose.  She battled heroin addiction for 5 long years.  I was there for the last 8 months of that battle and believe me when I say she and her family tried everything.  Hospitalisation, counselling, medication, trips to a psychiatric hospital, a court appearance, a serious car accident, watching her mothers never ending battle to get her girl well again but nothing worked.  In the end it was an overdose of prescription narcotics that took her life, not the heroin that her body craved everyday.  To watch a beautiful and loving sole turn into a desperate junkie who would sell her sole for the next fix was devastating to watch and ultimately I believe what sent her mother to an early grave.

Heroin use is still widespread in Australia.

Heroin use is still widespread in Australia. {IMAGE CREDIT}

 

I lived very nearby at the time and was still in the Police Force at the time when a fellow officer came and got me.  I walked in the back door to see Ambulance officers desperately trying to revive her on the floor of the hallway.  I then had the task of finding the other members of her immediate family and telling them.  Later I was the one who went to the hospital to formally identify her body, as there would be a Coroners Inquest into her death.

Yes, I know no one forced her into taking drugs, but perhaps if they weren’t so readily available, the temptation to try them might not have been there.  If one positive can come from these senseless deaths, let it be that the next young person to think they can make a quick buck by agreeing to smuggle drugs of any kind anywhere in the world, will think long and hard, before they make that choice.

According to statistics provided on International Overdose Awareness Day’s website:-

  • Nearly four Australians die every day from overdose.
  • Overdoses out-numbered road fatalities in Australia in 2012.
  • According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics overdose deaths totalled 1,427 in 2012, while road deaths, which have been steadily declining, ended the year at 1,338. (Data provided to Penington Institute by Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2014).
  • Approximately 131 people died from heroin overdose in 2005 – the year the Bali 9 were arrested.

***If you or anyone you know is struggling with Drug Addiction you can contact

Narcotics Anonymous for support and assistance.***

Love Me

 

Let’s Talk About – Debt

Most of us have made an unwise financial decision or two in our lives.  Money was not something that was ever really discussed in my house when I was growing up other than being told we didn’t have any.  So when I first started working and needed furniture for my first flat I got a credit card.  I soon discovered that I had no hope of paying it off and had to extend a personal loan to pay for it.  That was a harsh lesson on the realities of managing my finances.

I have been badly 'In Debt' a few times in my life.

I have been badly ‘In Debt’ a few times in my life. {IMAGE CREDIT}

When Mr B and I first got together (almost 19 years ago now) we were both in debt – lot’s of debt.  I was recently divorced and had come out of that with my furniture which I had owned prior to that relationship, my clothes, a car which I owed $24,000 on and $12,000 in cash.  Mr B was in a similar position.  He owned 3 cars, one of which he had spent a lot of money on and 2 jet skis.  The total of his loans were in the vicinity of $32,000 and were with finance companies which meant much higher interest rates.

We knew we had to do something and fast if we ever had any hope of getting ahead.  So with my money I firstly paid off my credit card, a mere $2000 in those days and paid the other $10,000 off the car loan.  We figured we only needed one car and as mine was the newest model and also run on LPG we decided to keep that one.

Two of Mr B’s car’s were older models and we sold them for about $6000 and paid most of it off the loans.  The 3rd car we were able to sell for the pay out figure on the loan – about $16,000 from memory.  More debt gone.  We then hunted around for a cheaper interest rate and combined our remaining debt into one loan which made the repayments more manageable. Consolidating our debt, in this case worked for us.

We realised after selling all the cars that we really needed a second vehicle so we took out a second smaller loan and bought a motor bike.  This loan was over 2 years but we paid it off in one.  Shortly after paying off the loan on the motor bike we found out I was pregnant.  I had good job security and also good maternity leave arrangements – 18 weeks at full pay or you could take it at half pay to have income for a longer period of time.  But we were still only renting a house and towards the end of that year our real estate agent told us that the house was being put up for sale.  My first thought was ‘I’m not moving house when I’m 7 months pregnant.’

By this time I was fairly disenchanted with my job so I decided to resign.  I had been in the same job (law enforcement if you haven’t read any of my other posts) for 14 years so I had long service leave accrued and plenty of superannuation. I was also in a position where I could withdraw most of my superannuation provided I left a base amount in the account.  We did this and I walked away with about $55,000.  This gave us enough money to pay a 20% deposit which meant we didn’t have the extra expense of mortgage insurance. Our first home together cost us $110,000 – one of the benefits of living in a small country town in the late 1990’s! We also had enough money left over to pay out the car loan and shout ourselves a new lounge and a TV/stereo cabinet – mainly because our stereo sat on the floor and we didn’t think that would be a good idea with a baby in the house!

Our first house officially became ours the day after we bought Miss M home from hospital in March 1999.  We stayed in that house almost 6 years to the day.  Over the course of those 6 years we added heating and cooling, cladded the exterior of the house as the timber was in poor condition, fenced in a section of the backyard for the kids, turned the small single car garage into a home office and built a large 6 bay shed.  This cost us a total of about $35,000.

This was our first house after our renovations.

This was our first house after our renovations.

When we decided to sell the house in 2005 and move to Queensland the real estate agent suggested setting the price at $240,000 but I was sure we could get more than that so I insisted setting the price at $280,000 and we ended up selling for $258,000 which gave us an excellent deposit on the house we bought in Queensland.

We now owe under $350,000 for that house.  We borrowed against the house a couple of times to make some improvements to the property, namely the garden as it was a shambles.  We subsequently bought an investment property in 2011 as well. In 2012 we made the decision to move out of our family home and it too became an investment property.  We made this move in order to downsize to something more manageable and also because we were no longer in love with the neighbourhood in which we lived.

We now live in a two story townhouse which we rent.  Part of our reasoning behind this was with Mr B away so much the upkeep of the gardens etc was just to much for us and it seemed as though all our spare time was being spent in the garden or cleaning the house.  Now if anything goes wrong we just phone our real estate agent.

We have excellent tenants in both our houses and the rent covers the house repayments for the time being, thanks to the low interest rates.

Just over 12 months ago we also bought a new car – our first one ever. This was a need as well as a want.  We needed something to tow our camper trailer and also a vehicle that was roomy enough for all of us to travel comfortably in.

We also still have a credit card which, unhappily has been hovering very close to its limit for the past couple of months despite us working really hard to reduce it down.  In all honesty though I must say we live very well – we want for nothing and neither do our kids.  But we could be doing a better job of managing our finances.

So you can see we have a combination of good debt – the houses and bad debt – the credit card and the car.  I say that the car is bad debt because we will never get our money back on it, whereas we should make money on the houses when we choose to sell them.

As we move closer to our ‘life after kids’ plan we are giving serious consideration to selling one if not both houses and investing the money.  Our plan is to buy a caravan and travel around Australia for an extended period of time, working when we can so we know we will need some money behind us to set up a van the way we want to.  All this is still at least 3 years away, but we do want to have a plan in place so as we are not making decisions at the last minute.

Love Me

 

 

 

****All information contained in this post is of a general nature and not intended to be taken as financial planning advice.  Financial advice should only be sort from persons qualified and licenced to give such advice****