So this begs the question, where is Australia now? Are we on the
rise or the fall side of this wave?
By 2013, Australia has completed 21 years consecutive economic growth, a trade shift of 15% to 33% of the world’s GDP within 10,000 kilometres, and a rise of living standards higher than the US. Australia’s public debt is the 6th lowest to GDP among the 26 advanced economies and the third lowest of all OECD nations, and economic growth the 9th highest of all OECD nations (Australian Institute). All these figures do not seem like our nation will fall just yet. However, they provide an incomplete picture. There are shifts in several areas which indicate that a fall of Australia may occur.
- A more complex and interconnected society becomes less resilient to
shocks. The two-speed economy, with the mining boom propping up GDP, means we are using incomplete measures to assess how our nation truly fairs. We need to change what we measure and report to avoid shocks.
- We are moving into a new age and need to leave the resource guzzling
industrial age behind. This means new ways of doing things with more
consciousness of social and environmental issues.
- Trade (other than mining) and investment abroad needs to shift from
Caucasian partners to the High Performing Asian Economies. Humans have a natural tendency to look to the familiar. For 70% of Australia’s population either born in Australia or from English speaking background (ABS 2011 Census) looking to a different culture for partnerships and alliances means a learning curve of other cultures and forgoing the comfort of the familiar.
- Social disadvantage has been on the increase. Harold Perkin concluded on the Rise and Fall of Empires that a decline can be stopped by creating a more equal and socially just society.
- Misbehaviour and mismanagement by Australia’s elite results in negative events for society. For instance political infighting, misinfor-mation for personal, business or political gain (see Australian Institute
Fast Facts), or the judiciary leniency of white collar crime remove the belief of a just, transparent and fair society. Negative events create instability, pessimism and apathy. And history shows us that hubris comes before the fall.
We can write our own history. What is it To Be?