Imagining Australia – Nation Building

Here’s a few Imagining Australia ideas on nation-building. Not so much the bricks-and-mortar kind; more of the bodies-and-minds stuff.

We note that while nation-building has been an integral part of the Australian story, the nation-building spirit is largely absent from today’s public discourse. Although there are challenges facing our country today that demand unprecedented levels of attention and commitment, talk of nation-building rarely transcends rhetoric.

To lay the foundations for our future prosperity and wellbeing we must rediscover our enthusiasm and passion for grand projects that advance the national interest. In our view, the modern Australian nation-building project consists of three major components: higher education; environmental sustainability; and population growth. These issues will help determine Australia’s standard of living, quality of life, and national image in the years ahead. Australia must recapture its nation-building spirit and confront these challenges with the same sense of urgency and vision that drove our early settlers.

First, we advocate making a smarter investment in higher education, and propose major reforms designed to create high quality universities that are open and accessible to all.
- We suggest grounding all professional and vocational degree programs in a year of liberal arts education, and creating a liberal arts university that specialises in teaching rather than research.
- We propose dramatically increasing investment in higher education, through greater government funding and the full deregulation of student fees.
- To maintain the meritocratic principles inherent in our university system, we advocate the abolition of lower entry standards for full-fee-paying students and we propose that university admission decisions consider the parental resources and debt aversion of those from the poorest backgrounds.

We also suggest a series of initiatives to significantly change our relationship with the environment and lay the foundations for a genuinely sustainable Australia.
- We advocate the creation of a National Sustainability Council to champion the process of sustainability reform and environmental modernisation.
- We present a wide-ranging environmental tax reform package to create the incentives for consumers and companies to become more environmentally friendly.
- We challenge Australia to embark on a national project to develop renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies.

Finally we present a vision of a substantially larger Australian population with all the dynamism, diversity and energy of the most successful multicultural country in the world.
- We call for a doubling of the population to 40 million by 2050, together with policies to build support for increased immigration.
- We propose expanding our immigration program, primarily by broadening the definition of economically useful skills to greatly increase our intake of skilled migrants.
- We advocate targeted immigration schemes for low-skilled workers, to encourage prosperity, global labour mobility and to reinforce our values of equality and fairness.
- Finally, we appeal for the humanising of our humanitarian program, enabling us all to once again be proud of our treatment of the world’s refugees.

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2 Responses to Imagining Australia – Nation Building

  1. Kevin Cox says:

    Funding Universities

    Andrew here are some suggestions that will turn Higher Education into a true market place where Universities will compete for students and where students will compete for places and where researchers will compete for funds.

    Give potential students the money for their courses and let them choose how to spend it from the different offerings. How much they get, who gets it, are peripheral – but issues of social equity – not market efficiency. Let Universities be free to put on whatever courses they wish. You can set in place external quality assurance programs such as external examination of students but again that is a peripheral issue. What we want are Universities truly competing to get the best students and students competing to get the best places.

    Keep research funding separate from teaching funds – except for teaching research students.

    On research distribute the funds through a market place. Here, the buyers are groups who set themselves up to buy research. Any group of people can apply to be a buyer but they must have no association with any seller (that is any University). They specify what sort of research they wish to fund, how much they wish to spend, how they are going to evaluate the research, how they are going to evaluate projects and how much it is going to administer, how they are going to appoint people to their boards etc. Let there be many different buyer groups who researchers can approach for funds. That is we do not want economic research only funded by one body.

    If the buyer groups or the University groups violate any of the conditions they set up – such as a buyer group having links with a particular University that violate the conditions then both the University and the buyer group are banned from participating.

  2. Patrick says:

    We suggest grounding all professional and vocational degree programs in a year of liberal arts education, and creating a liberal arts university that specialises in teaching rather than research.

    Isn’t there some inconsistency in this? Once the first proposal was implemented, wouldn’t this radically reduce demand for pure liberals arts courses, apart from that due to those who sought to pursue research in the liberal arts, who would be attracted only to research institutions?

    - To maintain the meritocratic principles inherent in our university system, we advocate the abolition of lower entry standards for full-fee-paying students and we propose that university admission decisions consider the parental resources and debt aversion of those from the poorest backgrounds.

    Wouldn’t scholarships be easier? If necessary the Cth could oblige universities to set aside a certain number of places in each course for specified scholarship students whose admission could be separately determined.

    Couldn’t we just skip the last three? Do you really expect them to offer much value?

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