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.