Howard outlines vision for 2020
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I want to begin by sketching the sort of world Australians are likely to be living in a decade from now; for argument’s sake let’s say by 2020, when most of today’s children will be young adults.
Liberal democracies will flourish, yet their purpose, patience and resolve will continue to be tested. For a country like Australia, there’ll be no holiday from history or from the long struggle against terrorism.
This fight is a different type of war against a different type of enemy. Our interests and ideals demand we stay engaged in the world and in the global battle of ideas.
Australia’s defence forces must be combat ready and well-resourced and our alliances close and strong in 2020.
We will continue to carry a heavy burden for order and stability in this part of the world. One of the most far-reaching national security decisions this Government has taken was to end a posture of benign neglect in the Pacific. There will be no going back from that commitment.
In 2020, policy makers will still be grappling with the great disjunction of our age – between a globalised economic order and a fragmented political one. Australia has a profound interest in a stable, cooperative and market-oriented global system underpinned by stable, cooperative and market-oriented nation states.
No-one should pretend the nation state is going anywhere. People will continue to express their demands for security, economic wellbeing and identity primarily through national politics. And the duty of political leaders will still be protecting and advancing the national interest.
It will be a world where economic and geopolitical power is more evenly distributed; more so perhaps than any time since America’s rise in the late 19th Century.
The human face of globalisation in 2020 will be increasingly Asian and middle class – as our region becomes the epicentre of history’s first truly global middle class.
It will be a world of intense competition for markets and for global talent. Australia must work hard to earn our place in a fiercely competitive global economy. We must ensure Australia retains and attracts our share of the best and brightest – the researchers, scientists, innovators and risk takers who’ll generate the ideas for a rising Australia.
Australia’s workforce will continue to face challenges from demographic change, from technological change and from globalisation. The Treasurer’s Intergenerational Report earlier this month showed that we have made progress in meeting the challenge of an ageing society.
Many families are confronting these pressures directly with the rise, for example, of the so-called sandwich generation. More and more baby boomer women in particular carry heavy responsibilities around caring for ageing parents and for children still at home, while also holding down a job in the paid workforce.
All this points to the need for governments to become even more nimble and responsive to individual needs in the next decade. The old rigid welfare state models have become increasingly obsolete.