Australia’s Two Futures

Clare O’Neil and Tim Watts, Two Futures: Australia at a Critical Moment, Text Publishing Co, Melbourne 2015

Sean Jacobs

Progressive young federal Labor politicians Clare O’Neil and Tim Watts recently released Two Futures: Australia at a Critical Moment, which defines disruptive technology, inequality, climate change and economic growth as the ‘forces that will reshape our nation in the next twenty-five years.’

O’Neil and Watts, however, do little to limit the concerns of those Australians wary of self-described ‘progressives’. Proposing, as they do, that the state has a clear role within these ‘defining issues’ is to skip and misunderstand not just Australian history but the expanding and untameable nature of modern government. The added tendency of both authors to rely upon study after study, and academic upon academic, with little reference to liberty, freedom and choice, or even private or public debt, shows an un-camouflaged desire for a future led by government, think-tanks and academia at the expense of the common sense held by everyday Australians.

In many ways what O’Neil and Watts describe as their ideal future is not ‘the future’ but has already been tried. Many Western governments, for example, have done their best at stoking innovation, premeditating climate change and redressing inequality with results that hardly inspire more intensified government effort.

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