Preface "The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see".
Sir Winston Churchill The old homily, “If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there”, should be re-stated as “If you don't know where you wish to go, and plan and act accordingly, every road will lead ultimately to disaster and defeat.” The Art of Victory AUSTRALIANS HAVE NEVER UNTIL NOW consciously and comprehensively outlined who they and their nation are, and where, in specific historical terms, they wish to find themselves into the indefinite future. Australia 2050 is a landmark study of national significance which seeks to provide Australia with a framework for responding to future challenges.
A significant number of these challenges will be derived from a global population which could approach 10-billion by 2050—rising from only 2.5-billion in 1950 — with all of the attendant friction caused by the competition for survival and prosperity.While accurate forecasting of the future global condition is impossible, it is important that attempts are made to understand and analyse the forces which will be acting on the nation. A period of rapid change — caused by compounding technological evolution as well as the impact of altering climate and population dispersal patterns — will be evident during the 21st Century, almost certainly to a far greater degree than in the 20th Century.
Australia will live in a world which will also be dominated by such factors as the stability of the People's Republic of China and India, as well as by changes in Europe, North America, and elsewhere.
Australia will need to chart a path which takes account of this changing global political, economic, and security environment, building new relationships and alliances, while preserving the old. Just as Australia's relationships changed during the 20th Century, so, too, will they change during the 21st, but the requirement into the immediate future will be for greater self-reliance and leadership.
Australia has been, and is, the “lucky country” in that it has been blessed with “wealth for toil”, often great toil. Indeed, it has been only Australians' belief—their optimism ? in their inherent good fortune which has helped themto weather the great hardships and vicissitudes visited by nature and by man throughout their history as a modern society.
In the same way, the original inhabitants ? the people who, in this study,we now call “First Australians”? found an enduring life and cultures, finding harmony with nature for millennia before the arrival of European settlers.
This study attempts to understand the shape which the world of the coming half centurywill take, and howAustralia can best fitwithin it, preserving its identity, languages, culture, prosperity, and security.
It is an attempt to prepare the nation for the great global transformations of the future. Australia cannot ignore, or escape from, this change. It will need to cope with it more than ever as an independent nation, navigating carefully between the often differing interests of its great trading and security partners.
Achieving the goal of self-reliance, security, prosperity, and the retention of its social attributes will require the evolution of appropriate governance structures, bearing in mind the almost unparalleled history of success and stability which has attended the constitutional framework of Australia since Federation.Achieving the kind of nation which will continue to inspire creativity, productivity, and harmony will demand an investment in the social dimensions of identity and social cohesion, a continual evolution of the national agricultural base, an ability to add value to the nation's immense resource base through innovative and efficient research and manufacturing, through excellence in education, and through an active media framework.
Australia can indeed shape a future which is as promising and bright as its first century of independent growth, and the preceding century of colonial construction.But it cannot do sowithout planning or introspection. This study is a step along that path to introspection and global situational awareness, and it outlines areas of fundamental concern and essential consideration.
This study represents,we hope, a series of valid and serious opening points in a debate which should energise the entire nation. Indeed, this study is only a starting point for debate, not a finite or prescriptive list of conclusions.
The report represents the many cumulative decades of experience by FDI analysts and the great swathe of Australian and international thinkers with whom we have consulted. The vision of the report, then, is possible because it stands on “the shoulders of giants” —to borrow the 12th Century phrase of Bernard of Chartres—and takes into account the cumulative learning of millennia.
Australia is in many respects unique, but it cannot escape the reality that it has arisen from, and extends, the fundamental building blocks of civilisational history, bothWestern history and the history of those who have occupied the Continent for perhaps 50 or 60 millennia.
An inescapable conclusion of this study is that, despite the challenges which face the world, Australia enjoys incomparable advantage compared with societies everywhere, as we all attempt to secure our destinies, and even our very geography and climatic viability.Australia has, in a world now embarked on shifting concepts of sovereignty, a great ability to create a distinctly-bonded marriage of its population to Australia 2050 its territory, without incursion by others into the very definition of what Australian statehood represents.
The concept of the Australian nation — a society attached to a landmass which humanity only recently called “Australia”—is taken for granted by its citizenry, but history shows that population movement, and the rise and fall of civilizations, make “national” constructs artificial and temporary.
The first section of this study is the inescapably large chapter dealing with the global context which Australiamust consider over the next half-century.We stress, in this study, the reality that Australia can only consider and plan its options within that global context, so à priori, we had to lay out that contextual framework before dealing specifically with Australia's situation.
The study, overall, is intended to be interlocking, and the appendices form an essential part of the whole.
This study is the result of enormous dedication and enthusiasm, not only by the main research and analytical team, but also by the FDI Board and Research CommitteeMembers, and other friends of the institution who supported the study with ideas, research material, and peer review.Nor would it have been possible without the leadership of FDI's Chief Executive, Craig Lawrence AM, who not only fought for the backing to undertake the study, but who also remained a key element in defining its objectives and outcome.
Within all this research and analytical material, it will be discovered that the outlook for Australia is bright, despite the reality that the challenges of the coming half-century will be titanic and testing. Australians are equal to the task, strengthened by sagas of the great stamina and stoicism of their pioneering forebears over the past centuries.
But now is the time that we mustthink upon this future we face, and how best we can master it.
— Gregory Copley, for the research team.
Perth,Western Australia October 2007 This Study is Dedicated to the pioneering ancestors of Australia's present and future society over the past 60,000 years, Australia 205