I had a one of those crystal clear moments tonight while discussing the broader issues confronting Australia and the world tonight.
There are some big things going down and I am not sure we are having the conversations that we need to be having. Let me start with Australia’s position in the world and in later posts I want to explore the implications of this as it kicks down to education. This is the logic of a discussion I had to night and I am still trying to process the ideas as I quickly as I can type before I leave things out.
As a nation we have a decision to make no greater than the one we had to make which led to Federation. In the late 1880s England was losing its position as a high powered nation . USA was on the rise and the dominant power in the world. The English left Australia and we had a decision to make. Maintain allegiance strategically , politically and economically with England and become a low powered nation much the same as New Zealand has become.
Or align with USA and become a middle power nation which can look after itself and be afforded the comfort of USA support should the need arise which proved to be the case in the 20th century. This was the strategic decision that lead to Federation and the creation of Australia as we know it today. Once this decision was made we became a nation that had to be able to hold our turf and protect our country. To achieve this a large portion of GNP had to be directed to protect our shores through defence and our livelilhood economically.
Today it seems we do not want to discuss nor confront the position of the China/ USA power struggle. Just maybe the decision makers ( on all sides) do not have the skills and experience to make the decision.
USA is now economically being threatened with China’s GNP expected to pass USA in 2016 which means there will be two nations jostling for the position of a the high powered nation. As in 1900 Australia has a decision to make on whether to be a middle or a low powered nation. Align with China and be in the middle again or align with USA.
The concern is that there is no debate on the issue. In fact on both sides of Government there is a bipartisan approach – both agree it is in the too hard basket and don’t even discuss the issue. Actually this is an issue on which we need a partisan and healthy debate as it is as significant as our Federation decision.
Currently, there is no strategic decision making being made at the political level on this issue. Why would this be the case? The current crop of political leaders are from a generation where they did not have to make strategic decision of this magnitude. This might be contributing to the types of decisions or in decisions being made today in relation to mining taxes, refugees, carbon taxes overseas ownership of farms and properties….
Like me today’s politicians were kids during the Vietnam war and the height of the Cold War. The political leaders of our youth had to make strategic decisions for the good of the country and the economy through the 1960, 1970s and even 1980s. Perhaps through no fault of their own the current politicans have not had the skills to make these strategic decisions let along develop let develop tactical and operational considerations to implement such strategies.
Now do I agree with all this? To be honest I am not sure but it was a real thought provoking conversation which I will continue to ponder.