KARI GESELLE – FINLAND
I left Finland when I was 19. When you are young you do these things. I was only going to stay in Australia for a couple of years and go back, but I am still here, I love it. I arrived in Sydney on a Friday in 1963, and went to Canberra where the work was. On Monday I was working with a pick and shovel. I didn’t speak any English at all. I learnt it on the street. That is the hardest part, when they are trying to explain what to do on a job.
Australian workers then were very lazy. Migrants were better workers because they were money hungry. Australians had an easy life and we New Australians messed it up. We worked like idiots. You come to a country and you see an opportunity to make money, and you make it. You don’t have these opportunities in Europe. Many migrants have to prove something back home, when they go back they have to look successful.
My trade was a sheet metal worker, and I worked at that until I started my own business. I bought rotating billboards into Australia. I had seen them in Finland and my mate had the patent. Then I changed to cars, and worked as sales manager for Saab, then BMW, Ferrari and Maseratti. I bought a service station until the property was sold from under me, and I moved to the Gold coast in 1994.
Now I am more or less retired, and if I can’t do something today then I don’t do it. I import cars from Japan, and import brain scan machinery from Finland and export oil and fuel filters.
My advice for migrants here is “Don’t try to change Australia to your ways. Don’t complain.”
I tell them to buy a car on hire purchase to get a credit rating. When I came here it was hard to get that first loan.
Don’t try to get a house straight away, rent for a while and see where you want to be.
In the 60’s and 70’s there were boatloads of people who couldn’t speak English, and it would cause frustration.
People sometimes called me a wog if they were angry. I used to say I am not a wog, I am a Scandinavian gentleman.
I go back to Finland twice a year. I am more Australian than most Australians. I have seen overseas, and I have seen here. I don’t complain. I have worked as a dental technician, plumber, mechanic, salesman, sheet metal worker, I don’t care what the work is as long as I make money from it.
My dream is to make a comfortable living.