This year’s Federal budget has been hailed in many quarters as a practical and balanced budget. It certainly has been a focussed budget that seems to maintain a balance and show a clearer way forward in several areas including education, infrastructure, health and NDIS – a far cry from the budgets of the past few years. The Treasurer and the PM need to be commended for this effort.
However, one thing I find lacking not only with this budget, but generally across the current thought leadership spectrum is the lack of vision for our country. We seem to be doing more of the same – more infrastructure, more taxes, more public spending, just like we have done in the past and are hoping to ride our luck to maintain our prosperity; but with the mining boom behind us and uncertain global political and economic conditions, would more of the same help keep our national prosperity?
It is quite unclear what the vision for Australia really is. How do we want to be seen and identified as in the next 10, 15, 20 years and beyond the horizon? Are we going to be a resource based economy riding the next wave of boom with gas and solar? Are we going to rely on an agri boom aiming to fill the bellies of the world? Or would we predominantly be a knowledge and services economy relying on our intellectual capacities more than ever? How would what we do today shape what lies ahead for us?
When Mr. Turnbull took over as the Prime Minister he seemed to have big visions – for the first time a PM was talking about nurturing innovation at a national level, a Minister dedicated for the Cities portfolio to drive sustainable living, large push towards digitisation driven by the Digital Transformation Office and many other visionary ambitions. I am certain that like me, millions of Australians looked forward to a day when we would have fulfilled these ambitions. Unfortunately for us, all these seemed to have withered away by political reality and the three-year election cycle only to be replaced by a steady as she goes approach to stabilise the boat and ensure survival.
I only wish and hope that once the boat is stabilised and survival is just a matter of course and not a struggle, the vision will re-emerge and we start thinking and planning about what lies beyond the horizon for us, for Australia.