It’s often a little easy sometimes for us Australians to indulge ourselves with the view that our island continent floats happily, safely and contentedly apart from the wider world.
We tell ourselves often enough that we are indeed the ‘lucky country’. We have apparently thwarted the COVID invasion and isolated ourselves from the dreadful consequences of an uncontrolled spread of the deadly virus which has been evident in so many other nations – rich and poor.
It now seems that a large number of our fellow citizens, 29 per cent in fact, think it worthwhile to wait before seeking an available vaccination or to be daunted by fake news and deliberate misinformation about the level of danger posed by the vaccines.
The undoubted success of the strict and often unpopular restrictions and other measures by all Australian governments and health authorities in keeping COVID at bay while mounting historically massive financial support for welfare and employment programs have, no doubt, contributed to a general feeling of ‘well, things have been tough, but we’re getting back to normal now’.
We should not be under any illusions that regaining ‘normality’ is simply a matter of time.
So much has changed in recent years that events which have been significant and of national importance seem to drift past and are in danger of being lost to our national memory. The massive bushfires which seemed to defy suppression are part of the whimsical character of climate change which can produce sudden new cycles of floods and drought. Coastal erosion, native animal extinctions, and subtle shifts in seasonal patterns are just more of the associated issues scientists see with a changing climate.
Today our politicians squabble and wrangle over pathways and vague plans for the future with key words such as ‘renewables’, ‘phasing out’, ‘transitioning’, and ‘by 2050’ scattered like confetti.
But, the Australian public still is waiting for some saviour who will calmly and confidently spell out a coherent step-by-step holistic master plan which will show us all how we, as a nation, can bridge the decades ahead with sets of sustainable, properly costed and technically justified steps to a low emission, high productivity yet socially-caring and inclusive future.
At the present time we may be happy to think we’ve dodged the bullet.
But, all around the globe there are signs that other nations are preparing for the future.
One instance may be found in the politically bruised and battered United States of America where the new President, Joe Biden, has made it clear that new policies are needed to meet a changing world.
Last week, Mr Biden posed behind the wheel of Ford’s new version of the F150 pick-up. The F150 models are the best-selling trucks in the U.S. The new model (‘The Lightning’) is electric. Ford has joined the trend to electric vehicles.
The President’s $US2.3 trillion infrastructure plan includes $174 billion to spur electric-vehicle development and production; a sum greater than that proposed for rebuilding U.S. highways and bridges.
Transportation is the nation’s single biggest contributor of U.S. emissions causing climate change, and transportation and environmental experts say shifting millions of drivers toward electric vehicles is a necessary step.
Our decision-makers in Australia need to make some bold, farsighted plans of their own. That’s if we all wish to be still considered ‘lucky’ in the coming decades.To order photos from this page click here