Australia in ten years time

Written in August 2016, this is Andrew L. Urban’s fantasy – part mischief, part wishful thinking – and his unsuccessful entry in The Spectator Australia’s Thawley Prize.

They called it the bratwurst election. It came five months after the May 2025 budget in which Treasurer Christian Porter revealed the economic payoff from Australia’s New World migration campaign across Europe, centred on Germany. The explosion in skilled and cashed up German migrants – some 98,000 in two years – had contributed not only revenues but a growing demand for goods and services – as expected. And the Germans were not the only ones coming. The budget deficit was shrinking at last. (And bratwurst was the new street food fad, sold at stands throughout Australia’s capital cities, in a variety of flavours, notably currywurst.)

New World had been in development since late 2019, soon after Tony Abbott’s return to the Liberal Party leadership in the wake of Labour’s election win under Bill Shorten. Labour had mirrored the Coalition’s 2016 narrow margin victory with 76 seats and the Liberal Party again switched leaders – back to Abbott. (Cartoonists couldn’t believe their luck; a cartoonable leader and lampoonable party, as the parallels with the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd leadership chaos was replicated – like a curse both parties had to endure.)

TV and radio talk shows devoted large chunks of time to poring over the post election landscape, while left-leaning media and the old Abbott haters dragged out all the old criticisms of Abbott, including some valid ones. To some observers, though, it looked like Labour was spooked by Abbott’s return; he was the one who led the Coalition and stomped all over Labour at the 2013 election, after all, 90 seats to 55.

Undeterred by the commentariat, Abbott, got straight back on his bike and gathered his shadow cabinet for a planning conference on Monday, November 4, 2019 (his 61st birthday) to outline and develop his economic plan, born on the backbench in the shadow of Malcolm Turnbull’s Prime Ministership. The plan was to weave together the strands of various policy platforms. Australia, he explained to his motley lieutenants, would help distressed Europeans find a safe new home in return for their economic boost. Not only would a new mass migration program help the future – it would help the present, with an extensive infrastructure program to prepare for the new migrants, most of whom would be skilled adults, many with children. Housing, education, health care, transport, roads …. Each shadow minister was tasked with bringing specific plans to the shadow cabinet by the Christmas break. And work would continue through that summer.

The Opposition continued to work on the plan all the way to the launch of the 2022 election campaign – when it was presented to the electorate as a comprehensive package. The infrastructure development would generate jobs and production activity instantly. The inflow of carefully screened European migrants, forecast with the help of Australia’s missions around Europe, would be fast tracked, but would continue until the target caps were reached.

Prime target countries were Germany, France and Britain, countries where ongoing terrorist attacks and general dissatisfaction with unmanageable migration policies had grown into constant frictions over the decade since 2015 (the year German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the door to a million asylum seekers … Integration, it seemed, was easier imagined than executed.) Smaller New World campaigns were conducted in Denmark and Sweden, and the total intake target (family & skill only) was set at 260,000 annually – up by 70,000 from the 190,000 recorded in 2014-15.

By the end of 2024, less than two years after New World was launched, the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated the number of German-born residents to have climbed from just under 126,000 at June 2015 to over 210,000. Germany had risen from the 10th to the 5th country of birth in our population table.

In 2015, the only European country (excluding Britain) in the top 10 by birth was Italy, with less than 200,000. The UK was No 1 with 1.2 million. By 2023, no longer a member of the EU but still suffering from the hangover of that long party, the British were as enthusiastic as the Germans. They also remembered the history of successful assisted migration to Australia a century earlier, when Australia’s weather and lifestyle were the drawcards, available for just £10.

Within six months of the launch of New World, more than 6,200 English applications were stamped and put in process by Australia’s High Commission in London. In the same six months, 5,400 French applicants registered – and ticked the language skills box: Fluent in English.

But back to that fateful election in 2019, which would set in train a new era in Australian politics – a rancid one.

After making his concession speech and congratulating Bill Shorten on the (narrow) victory, Malcolm Turnbull gave a brief on camera interview to David Speers, Political Editor at Sky News. Speers asked Turnbull if he thought the Kevin Rudd affair in 2016 had damaged him, either domestically or internationally, as Rudd had claimed at the time. Turnbull replied with a wry smile, “Bill Shorten can now appoint Kevin Rudd as Australia’s Ambassador to China, seeing Labour’s fervent endorsement of him for the UN job.”

Within three days, the Liberal Party had re-elected Tony Abbott as leader and Turnbull retired from politics. The acrimony across the floor of Parliament continued throughout the next three years, Abbott ridiculing Shorten as “not the union boss … the union puppet”, Shorten goading Abbott as the recycled leader (pun intended), and the Canberra press gallery reporting every nasty exchange as if the world cared.

But out of that rancid house came the future. Newly appointed shadow Treasurer, Christian Porter went into a huddle with senior advisors and stakeholders, and being unhampered by the demands of governing, started to build an economic reform package, fitting its parts like a jigsaw into the New World program.

Tony Abbott took shadow ministerial responsibility for Indigenous Affairs – which he retained after his 2022 victory.

Abbott’s experience, knowledge and understanding of Indigenous Affairs, along with his relationships with leaders of the Aboriginal community, bore fruit as a series of initiatives in which many bureaucracies were withdrawn or downsized from the byzantine Aboriginal welfare / support industry; it had been historically generous but ineffective. A pro-active program was launched to provide boarding school facilities for all children who could not be provided with education facilities within reach of their communities – and those children whose families had been unable or unwilling to send them to school.

Superannuation, for long the basket case of economic (mis)management, has been refurbished over the past two election cycles. Gone are the band aids. The shiny new and fit for purpose policy is super in results as well as name. It is also dead simple. Workers can throw as much money into it as they are able, without any contributions taxed. There is no cap. It can be accessed on retirement, after age 65. It can be taken as a lump sum, but that forfeits the equivalent value in the age pension (if applicable) and is taxed as income. Taken as a pension, it is also taxed as income – at standard prevailing rates.

It is designed to enable people to maximise retirement savings at a level to match their circumstances and choices – and stay off the taxpayer’s teat.

The privatisation of the NBN was announced in 2023, to be completed by November 2026. The announcement triggered a bitter controversy and Labour promised to reverse the decision if it won the 2025 election. It didn’t.

The Abbott Government argued that a Government monopoly was no way to deliver services that the private sector could provide – faster and cheaper. Commentators remembered that Abbott had appointed Malcolm Turnbull Communications Minister in 2010 to “destroy” the NBN. Neither Turnbull nor the Government at large could then mount a successful argument to destroy – abort would have been the better term – the NBN, given the electorate believed the sales message that it would deliver miraculous broadband … within a few short years, right across the country. Two elections and billion dollar blowouts later, it was still stuck in the mud of monopolistic inertia.

Privatisation of the NBN was delivering savings of up to $20 billion, which would be used to provide the subsidies where required, and the rest of the money will go to retire debt, said the treasurer.

The treasurer also said in May 2025 that further savings are being booked (every year since 2022) in the wake of global warming having turned into global cooling, with the climate science industry “no longer able to vacuum up millions of dollars in taxpayer funded schemes.” In any case, the scientists so engaged never did manage to figure out how much of the 0.04% carbon dioxide in the atmosphere came from humans. Or measure what effect it had.

The Daily Express UK had already reported (December 1, 2015) that at the National Astronomy Meeting in Wales, Northumbria University professor Valentina Zharkova said the fluctuations that an 11-year cycle of solar activity the sun goes through would be responsible for a freeze, the like of which has not been experienced since the 1600s.

Earlier that year, Prof Don J. Easterbrook, Professor Emeritus of Geology at Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA, also pointed to the possibility of solar changes driving global cooling.

Coincidentally, an intensive NASA study reported at the end of November 2015, that overall temperature has dropped in the southern polar region.

German scientists forecast that one result of the well established cyclic behavior over the past 2500 years is that it is justified to assume that the De Vries / Suess solar cycle will continue in the future – and they meant 60 years.

Prof Easterbrook warned: “The real danger in spending trillions of dollars trying to reduce atmospheric CO2 is that little will be left to deal with the very real problems engendered by global cooling.”

In the end, ridicule did what those pesky sceptics and ‘deniers’ around the world could not: it deflated the IPCC’s credibility – and thus its funding. Its last report, issued in 2022, claimed that the global agreement reached in Paris in 2015 had already done the job, as warming had been reversed, as shown by observed data. It sidestepped the fact that this cooling was taking place despite significant and continuing increases in man-made CO2 emissions. Even The Sydney Warming Herald began to ridicule the ‘consensus of 97% of scientists’ mantra of the past, unmasking the fraudulent source of that claim. Cartoonists poured satirical scorn on the whole sorry mess, not least the Greens.

Vivid Sydney kept going for two weeks every year while Earth Hour went dark for good.

Behind the good news of positive economic management lies a social environment that is brittle with antagonisms and hatreds, the result of a decade of social conflict across the politics of personal identity, free speech, the continuing presence of aggressive Islam in several mosques – and intolerance disguised as tolerance. A revolution without guns. It was as if Australia stumbled ignorantly into the world imagined in dread by George Orwell when (in 1948) he wrote Nineteen Eighty Four, a hate-filled world where newspeak was the tool of Big Brother, whose thought police sought out thoughtcrime, controversial or socially unacceptable thoughts.

I write this close to midnight on December 31, 2026, with mixed feelings; will the fireworks cheer me up? If that’s not too oldthink (ideas inspired by events or memories of times prior to the revolution)…… Or will they fire me up?

 

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