July 14th 2018


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY By-elections a trial run for next federal election

SOCIAL MEDIA Facebook bans reflect a lack of impartiality

CANBERRA OBSERVED The gloves are on for by-election proxy bouts

FEDERAL POLITICS Federal ALP platform reads like a radical on a soapbox

ENVIRONMENT 'Climate change' news is fake news

BRITISH HISTORY Abolition of the Corn Laws paved the way for cheap food

LIFE ISSUES A world of competing sorrows: Ireland's abortion referendum

CULTURE The wee folk and their cousins, up and down the scale

WESTERN CIVILISATION Three great anniversaries of the West

FICTION Autumn Alexei's Story

MUSIC ABBA; Unstoppable, ubiquitous

CINEMA Jurassic World: Fallen kingdom

BOOK REVIEW Vision for the future, if we want to claim it

BOOK REVIEW Taking to task failed privilege

BOOK REVIEW Where Tolkien and St Thomas agree

LETTERS

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Beijing goes 'boo', Qantas gets in a flap

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Opposition mounts to legalisation of cannabis

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BOOK REVIEW
Vision for the future, if we want to claim it




News Weekly, July 14, 2018

THE AUSTRALIAN CENTURY

by Asher Judah

Connor Court, Redland Bay
Paperback: 290 pages
Price: AUD$29.95

Reviewed by John Barich

This well-researched book is quite strange in so far as it gives its thesis and conclusion right at the beginning: “the time has come for the Australian Century”.

The rest of the book analyses our geo-political situation and proposes a reform agenda to achieve the “Australian Century” modelled on the success of the British Empire and U.S. exceptionalism. Judah says Australia could do the same.

Should one follow the author’s schema and give the assessment of his thesis at the beginning or at the end? Very concisely. Australia is unlikely to follow Britain and the United States for two main reasons:

1. Britain, and the U.S. were cohesive units with well-defined cultural foundations, including the Judeo-Christian religion as one of the major features of their foundations.

2. Unfortunately Australia has become a multicultural mixture which threatens its social and political cohesion. The dominant Anglo-European culture is fast disappearing, being replaced by a mixed bag of aboriginal and revisionary history. The control of one-third of Australia’s landmass by Native Title is hardly conducive to good planning. Symbolic of this, every strata of society now employs “Welcome to Country”.

While Judah makes a forcible case for the proposition that Australia can benefit by the worldwide “middle class” explosion, he overlooks many centrifugal factors that operate against us: for example, the rise of a secularism that threatens our Judeo-Christian foundations and legal system; and continual pressures to become a republic and remove our British connection and our flag!

Nonetheless, the author makes many salient points:

Australia is home to some of the largest, most renewable and cleanest water resources in the world.

The National Water Commission has said: “Australia’s water resources are highly variable, and range from heavily regulated working rivers and groundwater resources, through to rivers and aquifers in almost pristine condition.” Australia’s rainfall is also extremely diverse, with precipitation varying from location to location, year to year and season to season.

Overall, Australia’s water resources are spread out among three core sources: natural replenishment (rainfall); water in store (dams and aquifers); and unnatural replenishment (desalination and reuse). In total, Australia’s daily water availability per capita is 51,000 litres. This is one of the highest in the world: Indonesia has 33,540 litres, the United States 24,000, China 6,000 and Britain 3,000 litres per capita per day.

We must learn from the failure of Argentina to continue to advance after great promise in the early 20th century.

Coal has to remain the basis of our energy production.

China and India face enormous difficulties in shortages of energy, water and sanitation, all leading to poverty.

China’s demographic deficit will hinder it while India will do better, although her political framework of 33 quasi-independent states is a negative feature.

Judah pictures Australia as an archipelago of five main islands on which most of us congregate and where development has taken place – NSW (Cumberland), Victoria (Yarra), Oxley (Southeast Queensland), Swan (Perth coastal plain), and Vincent (Torrens River Valley) – and a secondary chain of islands composing 95 eastern centres, and the remaining tertiary island chain with 16 per cent of the population.

His analysis of the importance of culture is admirable. However, advances by secularists and attacks on our hallowed institutions do not augur well.

At the beginning of this book, the author discusses how England used its collision of opportunity to transform itself from a position of mediocrity to one of global hegemony. During its Imperial Century (1815–1914), England came to dominate nations like India and China with far larger populations and economies simply by being smarter, luckier, better organised and more determined.

In this, the Australian Century, the author believes that Australia will also have an opportunity to achieve extraordinary feats. While the pursuit of empire is definitely not Judah’s message, the goal of Australia exercising disproportionate global influence is. Just as the United States dominates world affairs with less than 5 per cent of the global population, Australia too can make a lasting impression with its own limited demographics.

The rise of the global middle class is Australia’s pathway to exceptionalism this century. The elements of circumstance, capacity and luck have fortuitously given the opportunity to be bold. It now needs only the vision, organisation and motivation to see its full potential become a reality.


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