Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Reinventing the Lucky Country

By Ian Lowe

The challenges facing Australia in the 1960s have not been addressed, and a new challenge will need to be overcome before we can really become a lucky country.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

A recent Academy of Science project found strong consensus for “a future Australia that is more caring, community-focused and fair than present-day Australia”. That would be a truly lucky country, a wonderful legacy to future generations.

Donald Horne described Australia in 1964 as “a lucky country run mainly by second-rate people who share its luck”. The phrase “the lucky country” quickly became part of the language, though its message was often misrepresented by people who had not even read the book, or who had certainly not grasped its ironic meaning.

Horne’s 1964 book sounded three loud warnings about Australia’s future: the challenge of our geographical position, the need for “a revolution in economic priorities” and the need for a discussion of what sort of country we wanted to become. Those warnings are even more urgent today after 50 years of inaction by our second-rate leaders. An additional complication is the accumulating evidence that we are not living sustainably.

The need for change was underlined by a 2015 United Nations report on sustainability. Australia ranks 18th among the 34 OECD countries – below the UK, New Zealand and Canada – based on 34 indicators covering economic, social and environmental progress. We are among the worst of the affluent countries for indicators such as our resource use, waste production, greenhouse gases...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.