Issues like international relations, economic austerity & free trade will again become key focal points for our politicians to tackle. Our current situation will provide a great many opportunities to escape the monotonous debates about the technicalities of activist talking points and culture wars, endlessly playing out in our daily media. It will instead provide our generation an opportunity to re-engage with politics and ignite an entrepreneurial and aspirational boom.
It is widely known, that this crisis will force us to re-evaluate our relationship with China. A relationship that has been to date economically prosperous, but had always posed questions about Australia’s international security. For some time, we have favoured an approach which balanced the mostly positive influence of Chinese tourism and tertiary education attendance with our relationship with key military allies such as the United States. With globalisation, undoubtedly in question, we will have to again re-evaluate this relationship in the wake of this crisis. Whether that be a more cynical approach to foreign investment, or a tougher approach to Chinese human rights abuses, the Australian political gravity on this issue has changed. It is however incredibly important we use this as an opportunity to engage critically with these issues, and not use this as an opportunity to be ‘inward facing’.
This crisis has undoubtedly affected the nation’s bottom line. With a total government response totalling $320 billion across forward estimates, representing 16.4 per cent of GDP, our nation’s youth will eventually need to pay this off and will inevitably forgo a lot to do so. The economic injections have so far been targeted and incredibly efficient going to individuals struggling to pay rent or buy food, ensuring our economy remains idle until prosperous economic conditions return. An often-undiscussed consequence of this economic down turn, is the changes that will come to graduate and apprentice opportunities after technical or tertiary education. Evidently a sluggish economy will mean there will undoubtedly be a reduced demand on our labour market, and in turn will force many young Australians to look overseas for employment. An outcome that would be disastrous for long term entrepreneurial outcomes in our nation. It is incredibly important that our movement begin to advocate for corporate innovation and investment into our nation’s technical institutions. Shifting the onus for funding away from the public purse and instead finding alternatives to fund start-ups and other service industry ideas.
Our international imports have been severely reduced, forcing many Australians to re-evaluate the need for local industry in Australia. This will undoubtedly become a major talking point for our political opposition for decades to come. Our opposition have been torn, warring over this exact topic, a populist left-wing group will inevitably appeal to a disenfranchised base of Australians. We must be careful that the politics of fear and distrust do not become our politics, instead we should face the harsh realities of our industry and better realise our national security needs, but remain open to free trade. An additional point of interest, again often undiscussed has been the affect this will have on our international export markets. With many nation’s looking elsewhere for manufacturing and technical skill, we are provided an opportunity that I am confident we can fill. Whether that be, playing a more substantial role in global food exports or production of high-quality products such as technology or entertainment. Instead of seeing these changes as challenges, we should instead paint them as opportunities.
Through these challenges, there can be no doubt our Prime Minister and his leadership team have been exceptional. Our Party has withstood some truly challenging times, but few critics would disagree that the challenges that Scott Morrison has faced have been amongst the most challenging. Truly emblematic acts of determination, grit and courage in the face of adversity, have been shown from day one. It must also be said that these traits have not only been on display from our party’s leadership, but our public service as well. Truly disciplined, calm and methodical responses from our men and women who occupy government departments have assisted our nation respond to the uncertainty of our current environment. While 2020 will not be forgotten for many years, it is our Australian spirit and fondness for mateship and teamwork that will help us through this crisis.
Ben Dennehy is the ACT Young Liberal President.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Young Liberal Movement of Australia.