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  • Writer's pictureBronwyn Kelly

Introducing "By 2050"

In this extract from my recent book By 2050: Planning a better future for our children in 21st century democratic Australia,

I introduce a proposal for a paradigm shift in the way Australians of the 2020s participate in their democracy. This is a shift to a space where we can act in an organised manner as a nation together to design our preferred future and lead ourselves far more efficiently and effectively than Australians are being led now. The suggestion of the necessity for this paradigm shift has arisen from the fact that in Australia today, two out of our three levels of government – state and federal – are attempting to drive the nation into the future without any agreed plan, road map or idea of a preferred destination.

By 2050 lays out the benefits of such a shift at this time – why Australians should take planning for the future into their own hands in 2020, when our politics has degraded our democracy. It argues that if Australian communities engage in long term planning, with an eye to their children’s future, this is a viable means – and perhaps the only viable means – of reversing the decline of our democracy and lifting it to levels of efficiency necessary to ensure we are prepared for the future.

In order that Australians can make this shift easily, By 2050 sets out an entirely practical but new process for participation in our democracy, including a suite of guiding principles and techniques. This suite is called Integrated Planning & Reporting (IP&R) – a long term community-driven strategic planning process which, since 2009, has been legislated for local government in several states, but which has never yet been used nationally. By 2050 adapts IP&R so that for the first time it can be used effectively by Australians in an organised process to plan their own future as a nation. The objective is to give Australians more control over their future and a practical means of re-engaging in their own democracy by working together to:

  • develop Australia’s first integrated national community futures plan, and to

  • easily monitor progress on that plan to ensure it becomes a reality.

By 2050 suggests that implementation of National IP&R will result in a significant improvement in both the efficiency and egalitarianism of our democracy, shifting it safely away from a reactive participatory democracy to a proactive participatory democracy – where power and national wealth are more fairly shared. It demonstrates how this shift in the balance of power between governments and the people can arise from a governance system which gives precedence to the coherent plans of a diverse community over the divergent, short-sighted platforms of political parties. Implemented well, national community futures planning can make transcendence of politics and ideology a common feature of our democracy instead of a rarity.

The book also provides a framework for establishment by Australians of a 30-year national integrated plan capable of delivering a better future for our society, environment, economy and governance. It is based on good, sensible governance and microeconomic reforms already established in local government, reforms geared to an idea that modern, healthy, sustainable economies are not just about personal or national income and wealth. These reforms comprehend that if Australians really want a society that is about the shared benefits of wealth, and a shared responsibility for sustainable growth of our income and capital, we need an integrated social, environmental, economic and governance planning framework. In the local government reforms, this is called “quadruple bottom line” or “QBL” planning and reporting, which sounds like the jargon of a stereotypical desiccated bureaucrat but is really just about ensuring we focus on more than just the financial bottom line for our nation. QBL planning organises us to us to focus on our total wellbeing.

By 2050 shows how this QBL planning and reporting can be used by any and all Australians to efficiently produce our first national community futures plan. It provides a partly populated prototype of an integrated plan called Australia Together, which is especially suited to Australia’s situation in 2020, as a demonstration of the viability of National IP&R. Australia Together will constitute our first opportunity as a nation to give our governments a clear and coherent idea of what we want to become as a nation, how we want to travel there and the routes we wish to avoid.

In summary, By 2050 establishes a high quality, open and ethical process of planning by the people for the people, and a means of significantly increasing Australians’ control over their future.

I hope you enjoy the Introduction to By 2050.

Introduction to By 2050 - Bronwyn Kelly
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