RSNSW and Four Academies Forum 2018

“Towards a prosperous and sustainable Australia: what now for the lucky country?”

Government House

Hosted by His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (ret’d.), Governor of NSW and Patron of the Royal Society of NSW

Thursday 29 November 2018
Government House, Sydney

A day dissecting the big questions facing Australia today and into the future. Australia’s 27 years of uninterrupted growth, the longest period without a recession of any developed country, puts it in an enviable position. Yet polling of the Australian population shows a large diversity of opinion on whether people feel better off. Rising wealth inequality, unaffordable housing, increasing traffic congestion, under-employment and increasingly polarised political opinion are hardly signs of a prosperous and harmonious society. Our environment is also suffering – loss of biodiversity, wildlife habitat and topsoil through land clearing and land-use change; the health and resilience of our river systems, forests and agricultural industries are subject to an inexorably warming climate and greater weather extremes.

Is the focus on growth and GDP pushing Australia in the wrong direction? Does Australia have an optimal population? What happens when we stop borrowing from future generations to support our current lifestyles and incessant consumption? Is a steady-state society possible, or desirable, and if so what would it look like?

The 2018 Royal Society of NSW and Four Academies Forum will examine the implications of the focus on growth (as measured by GDP) and population on our society, our economy and the environment. What are the social constructs and economic assumptions on which government policies are based? Our economy has become bifurcated towards resources and services – is this a healthy evolution or is it a hollowing-out of the economy that imperils Australia’s future? What role can science and technology play in a world of increasing automation and computer power? Is full employment possible, or desirable, and what will people do with their spare time?

The programme for the day is available here.

The day concluded with a drinks reception.

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