The 21st century will be Australia’s most important century, argues Asher Judah, author of The Australian Century.
The reason this is the case is because Australia’s economic, social and technological advantages will be colliding with increasing frequency with the wider world’s insatiable hunger for resources, energy, food, ETMs and services.
At present, there are 1.8 billion people defined as middle class around the world. Globally, this refers to any household whose income per person is between $11-$47 $US per day. Over the next 30 years, that number is forecast to rise to 4.9 billion people. This explosion in middle class consumers will redefine trade flows, investment patterns and entire social structures. Most importantly however, will be its capacity to underwrite the economic transformation of nations best able to ride its associated demand wave.
As luck would have it, Australia is one of those nations.
By being naturally endowed with an abundance of energy products, natural resources and arable land, as well as a highly skilled and innovative populace, Australia is primed for greatness. Indeed, if this opening is handled correctly, it has the potential to unleash a golden age for the entire country.
In order to make the most of Australia’s good fortune, its citizenry will need to start taking its future more seriously. This will require a better quality of public debate and a higher degree of tolerance for complicated reform.
Key areas which will need the greatest level of attention and patience include:
• overcoming demographic weakness;
• avoiding a productivity slump;
• reversing the decline of responsive government;
• administering population growth; and
• managing our unique settlement pattern.
In isolation, each of these areas has the potential to undermine Australia’s prosperity this century. In combination, they could be far more devastating. As a result, if Australia wants to seize all the opportunities this century will bring, it will need to begin knuckling down.
The 21st century will be the most important century Australia has ever faced. It will be so because it will have a unique chance to create a golden age of prosperity for itself. Australia now only needs the vision, organisation and discipline to see its full potential become a reality.
Asher Judah is the author of The Australian Century which is available for $29.95 from Connor Court Publishing. He tweets at @updownandout.