Scenarios for Australia’s Next 20 Years

15 March 2004

The Business Council of Australia has launched the results of a major scenario project, drawing upon the expertise and views of leading thinkers as well as young people to examine key challenges and opportunities for Australia over the next 20 years.

The Aspire Australia 2025 project was funded by the BCA’s Member companies, which include many of Australia’s largest businesses, as a major contribution to Australia’s public policy debate.

The Aspire Australia 2025 publication, which outlines three scenarios for Australia’s future, was launched today as part of the BCA’s annual strategy forum.

Aspire Australia 2025 has taken over 12 months to compete and involved the BCA bringing together more than 80 opinion leaders and policy makers in a series of workshops to discuss and debate Australia’s future.

BCA President, Mr Hugh Morgan, said: “The project recognises there are few forums for long-term strategic planning for Australia. Its objective is to encourage Australians to think seriously and strategically and engage in debate about our future.

“The three scenarios which have resulted from these forums are not predictions.

“Instead, they reflect the thinking of many of Australia’s leading thinkers and are designed to challenge public thinking about Australia’s future and stimulate longer-term thinking and policy making.”

During a series of project workshops, participants focussed on a number of key issues including:

  • Australia’s future relations with regional neighbours.
  • The future of Australia’s key institutions including our political system.
  • How our economy may change due to new markets, innovation and competition.
  • How our society and culture might develop as a result of changes both within and outside Australia.

The end result was three scenarios – ‘Riding the Wave’, ‘Stormy Seas’ and ‘Changing the Crew’ – which cover the period to 2025.

Riding the Wave explores the consequences of a breakdown in trust between people and institutions. It is a story about reform fatigue and complacency. In this scenario a loss of faith in institutions eventually undermines Australia’s capacity to grow. A lack of long-term focused investment and reform ultimately leads to economic and social decline and a re-examination of our political structures.

Stormy Seas focuses on Australia’s international relationships. It explores Australia’s policy options in a future where there is a sustained decline in Asia–Pacific stability and security. Regional instability challenges Australia’s international and economic relations and as a result Australians become more nationalistic, more cohesive.

Changing the Crew examines the potential tensions between generations as baby boomers, who have dominated Australia’s policies and values, are moving into retirement in unprecedented numbers.

“Each scenario presents different challenges, opportunities and tough decisions Australia may face,” Mr Morgan said.

“Each highlights the participants’ views about what issues in Australia are critical to our future and what direction they might take.”

As part of the project, a number of participants were also asked to provide a written contribution on specific issues that could impact on Australia’s direction and standing 20 years from now.

The Aspire Australia 2025 publication includes contributions on issues ranging from culture and identity, health and welfare, the future of business, population, the environment, the have-nots, home and family, trade and government.

Mr Morgan said the BCA and its Members would utilise key issues and themes arising from Aspire Australia 2025 to inform its own policy agenda.

Aspire Australia 2025 was launched as part of the BCA’s annual strategy forum, in which the CEOs of BCA Member companies meet to discuss policy issues of national importance.  

Aspire Australia 2025 (text-only version)

Aspire Australia 2025 (3.5 MB)


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2004 Media Releases

2004 Media Releases

2004 Media Releases