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Customer Review

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Accurate Enough, 26 Jan. 2011
This review is from: Living and Working in Australia (Paperback)
Accuracy is key for a book of this sort, and "Living and Working in Australia" (the 3rd Edition) by David Hampshire comes up short in this area. Now, to be fair, there are newer editions of this work, as I have seen a 6th edition which was published in 2009, so the issues I have with this book may have been addressed. However, the buyer must be careful when selecting a book of this type.

The 3rd edition was published in 2005, and I first travelled to Australia in late 2006, so I would have expected the book to be much more accurate than it was. Note that I am not so concerned about differences in prices and that sort of detail, because clearly such things can change quickly, and any book could be rendered inaccurate simply in the time it takes to publish and appear in bookshops. No, it is the oddities which are mentioned in this book as fact, and yet completely differ from anything I have ever seen which are of concern to me.

To pick a somewhat trivial example, there is a paragraph included on Traffic Lights in the motoring section, where the author goes out of his way to mention the sequence of traffic lights being red -> yellow -> green -> yellow -> red and that yellow is a warning to get ready to go. I've been in four states in Australia, and I have never seen a traffic light that operates that way. I have asked people who have lived in Australia their whole lives, and they had never heard of traffic lights with that sequence. Only one person thought that perhaps older traffic lights may have had a flaw where they would flash amber just before green, but that it wasn't part of the sequence by rather a mechanism issue. At any rate, there haven't been lights like that in some time, certainly not in 2005, nor even when the 1st edition of this book was published in 1998.

It would be unfair to totally discount a 500+ page book based on a single paragraph, but there is quite a bit more. A more important example is what they wrote about the telecommunications systems here, of which they write " (Australia) has one of the highest standards of telecommunications in the world, employing the latest broadband cable, digital technology, fibre optics and satellite systems." My personal experience is that Australia was rather behind Europe and the U.S. in this area, and in fact the Australian government is now trying to do a massive upgrade of their systems for that very reason. Australia also suffers greatly from a lack of bandwidth into and out of the country, which is another area being addressed. In short, while they statement is somewhat subjective, I consider it to be inaccurate, and frankly a good portion of the Telephone section of the book reads like an advertisement for Telstra (the largest provider in Australia) rather than a guide.

For political parties, they fail to list the Greens (7.7% of the vote in 2004) under the main political parties, and instead include the Independent Party (there is none, but there is a very small party called the Independence Party), and the Country Liberal Party which is limited to just the Northern Territories where the fewest number of people live. The CLP probably was bigger than the Greens in 1998, but certainly hasn't been for some time. The same would be true for the Australian Democrats, which they also listed as a main political party even though they only had 2.1% of the vote in 2004.

As I indicated before, I did have some people who have lived in Australia their whole lives look at a few areas of the book, and their response was that the book was very out-dated, not just for today (2011), but even for the time it was published (2005). My personal experience agrees with what they told me, and the few examples I have provided are by no means exhaustive of the areas of this book which have issues. As a result, I cannot recommend this book (i.e. the 3rd edition) to anyone and I would be very skeptical of later editions as well. I know that there is quite a bit of accurate material included, but the problem is that there is no way for the reader to know what is valid, what is out of date, and what is simply wrong.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 29 Jan 2011 19:57:41 GMT
H. Jones says:
Have to say - why would anyone buy and read a book that is so out of date (3rd edition ie published back in 2004, for a 2011+visit/move) when there are far more up to date editions? I am currently searcing for a cheap copy of the newest published version (Nov 2010), and wouldn't even consider an earlier version, as it would be worse than useless imho.
Our experiences of broadband differ immensly it has to be said - having lived in Outer London for the last 13 years, the broadband here is terrible, rarely reaching speeds of over 1MB if we are lucky, whereas in all the places I have visited in NZ and Oz, this is laughed at as being pathetically slow. I imagine in more rural areas this isn't as fast, but for London to not have superfast Broadband throughout, anywhere that has faster than this cannot be seen as backward with its internet connections/telecomms.

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Jan 2011 11:21:35 GMT
Last edited by the author on 31 Jan 2011 11:22:22 GMT
Dave_42 says:
I reviewed this book recently, but I bought this book some time ago, corresponding to my first visit to Australia in 2006. Thus it was not all that old at the time. As I indicated, the book was out of date in 2006, and from what I have learned from the Australians that I have spoken to about it, it would have been out of date in 2004. I chose to review this book now, because I saw it on my shelf and remembered that it had not served so well as a guide for me, so I refreshed my memory on some of the sections and wrote my review. I don't expect anyone to buy the 3rd edition of this book, but I do hope that people are careful when looking at the newer editions to see if they have brought it up to date.

Of course, different areas have different experiences with internet speeds, but mine is that it is expensive here for what you get as opposed to what I used to get in the U.S. I have heard similar stories from others who have come here from various other places in the U.S. and Europe. I had a great deal of difficulty getting much service at all in my new house, which is in the northern suburbs. I was told that it is quite common for developers to put in a bare-bones system and unless or until they get enough complaints, the residence of that development are stuck with slow service. I managed to get a better service provider and now my service is at least acceptable (much better than yours), but not up to the level of what I had in my previous residence in Australia, which wasn't up to the level of what I had in the U.S.

Posted on 27 May 2011 14:07:13 BDT
P. Read says:
I agree with H Jones. What I cannot understand is why a review dated 26th January 2011 refers to the 3rd edition that was published in 2004, when the latest edition is the 7th published in November 2010 (by the way the Amazon search inside feature shows the 3rd edition for some bizarre reason - surely Dave 42 didn't review the book from the search inside information rather than a physical copy?). I know Survival Books very well as and as far as I know they are comprehensively and diligently updated each time a new edition is published - and they are updated more frequently than any similar books. Of course, minor details such as political parties may be missed or the sequence of traffic lights, but where information is essential the info is bang up to date.

In short, if this reviewer is correct, then all the other people who have purchased the book - and there must be tens of thousands by now - many of whom have left excellent reviews MUST BE WRONG. You decide for yourself.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Jul 2011 10:37:47 BDT
Last edited by the author on 7 Jul 2011 10:42:02 BDT
Dave_42 says:
I posted this review on the page which is for the 3rd Edition of the book. It may be that Amazon has linked reviews from the various editions together, but I cannot control that.

As for the comment that there must have been tens of thousands who purchased the book and of whom many have left excellent reviews, I am a bit confused by the statement. There are only 6 reviews posted for this book as of my writing this, and while three give it 5-stars, there is also one 4-star and one 3-star review, which means that half of the ratings put it below excellent.

Lastly, I will repeat that I did have several Australians look at certain sections of the book and it left them scratching their heads as to statements which were included that were not true in 2005, nor true today, and some things have NEVER been true. That is not to say that there is no correct information in the book, that would be far from the truth, but a book like this needs to be far more correct than this one is/was in order to get a good rating from me.
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Location: Australia

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