Today is Australia Day, January 26, 2013.
As I watch what is going on around me, I see a lot of frenetic stuff, the hype at the cricket, crowds of people carrying “Australia” bags, hats and eskies, Pollies offering platitudes for a sound-bite, and many group BBQ’s at the local park.
All good stuff, but should there be more?
The Australia now is a vastly changed place to just a generation ago, and my grandfather, a digger who spent a vacation in France in 1917 simply would not recognise it, although he bled for it. We are a polyglot nation, remarkably able to absorb and celebrate difference, now removed from our European roots and finding a way in Asia, wealthy in many ways, but twitchy and suspicious of those we do not know, and authority, and nervous about the future.
We are like a kid who realises he is now alone in the world, and has to stand up for himself, but is not too sure how to do it.
So what will we look like in another generation, by 2050?
I suspect the things that seem to occupy our minds now will mostly be seen as trivial excursions by then, and we will be paying a high price for ignoring the things that are important but not urgent, at least in the minds of those supposed to think about these things for longer than an election cycle. The education of our kids, and their kids, real education, to think, question, and be prepared to defend a conclusion, our research capability, both public and private, and the capacity to commercialise that knowledge, the selling off of our national estate, and the determination to dig up everything, flog it at commodity prices, and import the manufactured product as our own manufacturing capability withers on the vine.
As Australian day 2013 closes with another display of fireworks and platitudes, we Austalians should stop and think, project ourselves forward 50 years, and ask, “what do we want the place to look like?’. Then, for a change, lets demand that those visions become part of the public debate, not sidelined by today’s celebrity nonsense.