There are three political strategies, and three alternative routes on the road-map to Australia's future.
That's the choice offered by a CSIRO scientist in a new book that attempts to give a rational guide to getting Australia to the year 2050 in good shape.
"Today's Australians have to consider the big choices which will ensure that our grand-children have a good quality of life," says Minister for Science and Technology Senator Nick Minchin.
"Should we be going down an economic prosperity path using a strategy of self-regulated markets and small government? Or should we be following the 'conservative development' path of active intervention by a strong central government?
"Or the third alternative, 'post-materialism', putting a cap on development and the economy, and building political and business structures which are based on stakeholder participation and collaboration."
Senator Minchin today launched the new book by Dr Doug Cocks of CSIRO Wildlife and Ecology, Future Makers, Future Takers. Dr Cocks creates three hypothetical political parties - the Conservative Development Party, the Economic Growth Party, and the Post-Materialism Party. He gives each party a detailed policy platform, and rigorously draws out the consequences of each of them getting into power.
The book is subtitled 'Life in Australia 2050'.
Dr Cocks emphasizes that he does not favour any one particular option of the three that he presents, and he asks readers to "resist going partisan, as soon as they think they know which strategy best reflects their political allegiances."
According to Senator Minchin, Future Makers, Future Takers is likely to stimulate important discussion about Australia's future directions.
"While there has been lively community debate about a number of matters of political form, decisions which we take today will have a real and material effect on the way our children and grandchildren will live their lives," says Senator Minchin.
"Although Doug Cocks is careful to avoid taking sides in his three scenarios, he is urgently concerned about the need to avoid 'short-termism' when choosing paths to our nation's future," says Senator Minchin.
"The way we educate our children today will determine their capacity to find employment and fulfilment as adults. Big infrastructure projects like airports and the Very Fast Train will still be operating in fifty years, and will have profound effects on population densities," says Senator Minchin.
"We need to consider, today, the consequences of continuing our relatively rapid population growth. Do we want the mega-cities which could be the consequence of a large-scale immigration program?" asks Senator Minchin. "What will our grandchildren inherit of our natural environment? Are today's government decisions going to have the effect of ensuring sustainability and profitability in industries such as mining, forestry, and agriculture in fifty years time?"
According to Senator Minchin, Future Maker, Future Takers will become a valuable handbook for all Australians concerned with future policy directions, and should be closely studied by politicians, and their advisers, of all political persuasions.