Future Alert | Q&A

Future Alert | Q&A


(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Good evening, and welcome to Q&A. I’m Annabel Crabb. Here, gagging to answer
your questions tonight are political leader
turned thought leader John Hewson, the director of programs
at the Australian Futures Project, Chloe Spackman, engineer, futurist and broadcaster
Jordan Nguyen, the author
of Surviving The 21st Century, Julian Cribb, and the director of the Centre for Sustainable Materials
Research and Technology, Veena Sahajwalla. Please welcome the panel.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Now, we’ve brought all these
intensely clever experts together to discuss the future, and the threats that lie
over the horizon – you know, food security, disease,
overpopulation, artificial intelligence. They don’t feature in the headlines,
these things, quite so much as climate change, but they do require
strategic attention. And how good is our democratic system
at dealing with these challenges? Now, we’ve taken the tactful step
of not actually inviting anyone FROM our existing democratic system – as you’ll notice,
looking at the panel, there’s a distinct lack
of serving politicians. So we can talk about them
behind their backs as much as we like.
(LAUGHTER) Now, our first question tonight
comes from Tara McDonald. We seem to be trying
to live longer at any cost, and prolonging the inevitable,
which is death. Should we be spending
more time and money on protecting our future generations
instead of ourselves? Right. John Hewson,
I’m going to send this to you as the senior figure on the panel.
Thank you. So, does this idea of spending money
on longevity become more attractive as the years roll by? Age is obviously an advantage to me,
isn’t it? Look, I think it probably does. I mean, it gives you more time to focus on what you should
have done earlier in life, and what is yet to be done, from the point of view
of global futures. So, yes, I think it gives you
a chance to do that. OK. Julian, one of the most
sophisticated elements of being human is this ability to make sacrifices
in the short term to improve things in the long term. It’s also one of the great secrets
of being a good political leader. Are we any good at it at the moment? Well, at the moment,
we’re not recognising the real nature of the threats
that we face, the scale of them, the magnitude, and the fact
that they’re all coming together at the one time. They are very serious. They could end our civilisation. They could even,
in the worst-case scenarios, result in human extinction. We need to recognise those factors
in order to understand the threats, and we have to understand them
in order to solve them. And there are solutions. There is a good news message
out of this. There are fantastic solutions. Veena, extending
the longevity of life is a fairly expensive business. Do we pursue it
at the cost of…of all else? I think, in all of that,
the conversation is really around the underpinning science, technology
and the moral questions of, you know, what are we really
doing as human beings on this planet in terms of being able to improve
the quality of life, and delivering justice for everyone? And I think people are doing
incredibly amazing work. And I think that’s really
how we’ve got to see it. We’ve improved the quality of life
for so many people on this planet. So, I think there is all of this
holistic conversation that we need to have – how clever people
who come together and address some of the really complex
challenges that we all face. I think it’s really, really
important that we support each other and we collaborate. And I think, to me,
that’s the best way – if we see a collaborative future. Is it necessarily true
that the higher quality of life we all individually expect, the more expensive it is
for the planet? I think, you know, I mean,
not necessarily so. When we talk about quality of life, I think we can also
think of that collaborative future where we can actually say that, “Look, let’s work together
so we can help each other.” So, I think the fact
that we can go in, you know, bring about rescues
and new, you know, medical systems, and help people who are actually
in need of a lot of these solutions means that we are using
our knowledge to improve the lives of so many people on this planet. And I think that’s how we’ve got to
see how we, as human beings, can actually develop
a better collaborative future. Turning to you, Chloe. You work
at the Australian Futures Project. Is that frustrating
in this short-attention-span age? Oh, absolutely. I think, you know, our issue is
that we’re trapped in this bubble of short-term thinking. And, you know, the way the politics,
modern politics works, it’s become this kind of…
you know, egos jockeying for power. It’s about power,
it’s not about leadership. And I think that’s sort of… You know, we see this hyperpartisan,
hyperdivisive conversation where it’s really win at all costs, a zero-sum game. And what’s at the expense of that is thinking about some
of these long-term issues. And I don’t necessarily just mean
some of the potential catastrophes that, you know, Julian speaks of, but I even mean some of the critical
issues that are important for Australia to have
a flourishing future. So, things like tax reform,
or the gender pay gap, or Indigenous disadvantage. I think these are the things that, you know, we’re not
making progress on when we’re in this
short-term bubble. OK. Well, we might get to some of the solutions to short-termism
in a bit. Just out of curiosity, Jordan,
as the youngest person on this panel, what would you like us
to be spending a bit more money on in terms of future generations? I’m going to quickly put out there,
I’m probably not as young as I look. (LAUGHTER)
Really? (LAUGHS) He’s 68.
I’m 35. Half of it’s the silly hair
and the half Asian. (LAUGHTER)
But… Uh, no, I think we’ve got to be
focusing on the future, and I think this is
what’s happening. We’re actually starting to raise
this conversation so much more, these days, about where
we are headed in the future. And, Veena, you put this really
well, talking about quality of life. We’ve been living longer lives
because of our modern medicine, because of so many
of the advancements that we’ve had in science
and technology. But not only are we focusing
on extension of life, we’ve got to focus
on quality of life, too. And that is, like you say,
it’s holistic, it’s very full-circle. There are so many factors
that play into the lives that we’re going to be leading
in the future. But we’re raising
these conversations and I think that’s the first step. OK. Well, let’s hear
from our second questioner now. It comes… Second question
comes from Andrea Wood. Good evening. My question is for Julian. 40% of the food produced
in the world does not get eaten, while 815 million people,
worldwide, go to bed hungry. How do we get people to understand
quickly and globally that our food security
is under threat, and to start treating food
as the precious resource that it really is? Thank you. Today, we will eat –
we, the human species, will eat – 23 billion meals. By 2050s, that’s going to be
35 billion meals. Now, the soil to grow those meals
is vanishing at a rate
of 75 billion tonnes a year. The water that farmers need
to grow those meals is being taken by the big cities. It’s being taken by miners. It’s… There’s just not enough
water any longer, in many countries, not just in Australia. So, there’s a crunch coming here.
There’s not enough nutrients. And the climate
in which agriculture was born has changed for all time. So, this means that we have a growing demand for food and a shrinking resource base
with which to produce it. Now, to solve that, we really need
a food revolution. We need a food revolution like the
green energy revolution, worldwide, everyone getting in on this. We need to create a food supply
that is climate-proof, and which is sustainable, and we don’t have that
at the moment. I can give you the details
if you want, but, uh… Well, I’m interested in… You write
quite a lot about the importance of bringing food production
back into urban areas. Yes.
Now, how does that help? Well, cities are throwing away
a vast quantity of nutrients and water every single day. We’re just throwing them
in…in…in the ocean. If we recycle those things, if we use them over and over again,
we can have a renewable food supply. So, cities, I believe,
in future, will grow a third of the world’s food. We will also grow a third on farms
that are regenerative, farms that regenerate
the urban…the rural landscape in which they operate. And we will probably produce
a third of our food in the deep oceans. OK. Jordan, you’ve got
something to say? Yeah. I mean, what you’re
talking about there, with our use of water, it’s something that is
a very precious thing. It’s our… These sort of resources
are very precious. I’ve been doing documentaries with the Discovery Channel
for a while, getting to travel the world,
finding out how science and technology influences
and impacts the environment, and…and our lives
as we move into the future. And one of the things I got to do
was to go up to Tibetan glaciers with scientists there,
and those Tibetan glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau
are so important because they give birth
to the rivers that go through India, through China,
through many different countries, and they supply nearly
1.9 billion people with drinking water. But they are in the third stage
of major decline. The scientists were saying, there,
that the first time was sometime BC, then 500AD, then 1950 to now, they’ve been in the third stage
of major decline. And so they’re starting
to utilise technology, utilise artificial intelligence
in the form of machine learning, whilst also being able to take in
lots and lots of data about what’s happening there
in the Tibetan glaciers. And they were saying that,
by 2050… ..based on this decline, by 2050
all of India and all of China will have to have seriously
considered a new water source if nothing has been changed
in our rate of climate change, in the rate of change
that has had the impact on that…on those Tibetan glaciers. And so they were saying
then that leads to potential wars and stuff like that
being over resources like water. And I think it’s an important thing
that we model these, understand these
and take action on it. And that’s another issue, isn’t it?
I mean, we talk about food. We’ve got to also bear in mind
the resources that actually go into packaging
and delivery and getting the food out
to where we need food to be. So, in a way, I think
it’s also important that when… ..we all realise how important it is in making sure that it is
accessible and affordable, ’cause there are, of course,
you know, many people on this planet who clearly could benefit from,
you know, what might be seen
as food that’s getting wasted. So, why don’t
we also think about how, in fact, you know, our ability
to package food and deliver that has actually resulted
in positive outcomes? So, I think we need to be able
to also, again, use technology and show how this can deliver,
you know, better outcomes for everyone on this planet. So, I think, again,
talking in a holistic way, it might, you know,
help us all stop and think that we need to be mindful. Veena, you’re a person who’s made
a career out of looking at waste and being a little bit
in love with waste and the potential of waste. 40% of food produced
not being eaten – what sort of an opportunity is that,
do you think, for humanity? Yeah, no, look, I think… I mean, as I think we all realise,
you know… ..and I think
in the question as well was really about the fact
that we recognise that if there are so many people who are not getting
the right nourishment as part of their everyday lives, I think we need to be able
to then say, if we all started
to think about solutions that are going to be, you know,
consumption of food in a way that’s also around
healthy eating and healthy living… So, we’re sort of questioning,
you know, are we sort of taking in food
in a way that is also fit for our purpose
and life as we see it today, not as life as it used to be
all those decades ago? So, I think it’s also
about questioning, you know, how are we consuming that food, and can we actually now make sure
that we are fair and equitable in the way we distribute
all of that food? Chloe? I just wanted to put a little bit
of a government lens on this because with the issue
of food waste, Australian Futures Project
actually worked with the government on some of the food waste strategy. And it’s interesting that
part of the dysfunction in that actually came from the fact that you had three levels of government
all working, and they didn’t actually understand
what the roles and responsibilities of those three levels
of government were. And I think it’s important
to note that, you know, there was a lot of creativity
and innovation, willpower, and people who were putting
a lot of passion into solving this problem
in government, but it was sort of this
structural issue with the way, you know, state, local and federal
government works together that was inhibiting that
working well. Actually, you know,
all of the food waste from Commonwealth Parliament House
goes to a local worm farm. So, uh, something is, uh, productive
from the effluent in that building. (LAUGHTER)
I think we’ll… We’ve got another question that’s
a related one from Melissa Neave. Yeah, I’m wondering
what your thoughts are about meat and whether we need
to be moving away from meat in order to be able
to feed future populations whilst still being able
to limit our environmental impacts. Is it the end of the burger, Julian?
No, it’s not, for two reasons. First of all, a good,
balanced agricultural system needs animals in it. You can’t go to a totally
chemical system and rely on that. The industrial meat system
that comes to us out of America is not sustainable –
that has to change. But grazing animals broad-scale,
like we do in Australia, on grass, in a sustainable way – that’s low stocking rates
and things like that – that can actually lock up
vast quantities of carbon, and that can improve the soil and that can increase
the water penetration of the soil – you have a much more
sustainable system. So, you need animals in that system. apart from the fact that you can’t
dictate to humans what they eat. They will eat what they want.
Well, can you? I mean, we know that humans
don’t like to be dictated to in terms of what they eat. I mean, and governments don’t like telling private citizens
what to do, right? Like, is this a growing potential
for government intervention, John? I know you don’t love
government intervention. No, look, I think there’s a chance
that they do go down that route. I mean, I think that
there is a tendency, I think, in the community,
at the consumer level, to move away from meat, partly because of a belief that it is, you know,
counterproductive to the climate challenge and so on. One of the things that
bothers me most about this area is that short-termism has us
sort of taking things for granted. We just assume that
we’ve been able to eat this well or live this well
for as long as we have, and we assume that
that will continue. We don’t want to face
the reality that, in fact, there are challenges out there
that will… ..you know, are very real. Food security is a big one,
but, of course, waste and the fact that
we don’t recycle our waste. And the potential for that
is enormous, but we don’t recognise that. You quite often hear, in Canberra, that we are going to be
the food bowl of Asia. Well, we won’t be if we don’t
do something about our soils and we don’t do something about our water, you know,
preservation and so on. So, that short-termism crowds out all the detail
that we should be looking at. Julian, what sort of
economic opportunities are there in this field of innovation? I mean, how attached are we to our traditional means
of growing sustenance? JULIAN: Well,
if I could illustrate this with a small headline
from last week… One you prepared earlier?
Yeah, one I prepared earlier. America is the world’s biggest
green economy. It’s earning 1.3 trillion a year
out of green energy, basically. And yet they still have spray cheese
that comes in a can. (LAUGHTER)
They… We can teach them quite a bit
in that regard. But my point is that we missed the green energy revolution
in the 1990s when we had… We were leading the world
in the technologies that we had. We missed it, or we opted out of it, and that’s why we’re an also-ran
in green energy. There is now coming
a sustainable food revolution. Are we going…? It’s going to be bigger
than the energy revolution. Is Australia going to lead it
or are we going to opt out again? Are we going to miss
that huge opportunity to double our GDP basically by getting into
the knowledge base of how you produce sustainable,
climate-proof food? You know, when we conducted
the Australia Talks survey recently, the most important aspect
of Australia’s culture was determined to be the bush –
the biggest part of our identity and all of our historical ideas
about how we grow food and what makes us as Australians. Do we need to revisit
that image of ourselves? Absolutely. We need to go for
regenerative farming – that is farming
that improves the soils, locks up the carbon,
draws down more water. We can double the amount of water
in the Australian landscape. You don’t need to build
any more dams if you double the amount of water
that’s in the soils. This is what Michael Jeffery,
the former governor-general, with Soils For Life,
is talking about. You know, there are
lots of very smart farmers who are doing this right now. We have to share that knowledge
with the whole of Australia, and then we will
revolutionise the planet. OK, remember, if you hear
any doubtful claims on Q&A – I mean, it’s unlikely
in this company – but if you do,
let us know on Twitter. And keep an eye
on the RMIT ABC Fact Check and The Conversation website
for the results. But for now,
we’ll go to our next question, which comes from Richelle Lim. My question is directed to Jordan. The mass urbanisation and inventions
of the 18th century permanently changed society, henceforth
the Industrial Revolution. How do you think, with the emergence
of AI technologies, how would that change and shape
society in the future? Very good question.
It’s a very big question. They call it
the Fourth Industrial Revolution that we’re moving our way into
very, very quickly, which is where we sort of… ..we very much integrate
with the technologies around us. And we’re already seeing this
quite a lot. I mean, we outsource so many
of our cognitive abilities to our devices, and often,
you know, you find that, if you travel the same path
through GPS many times, you don’t remember that pathway
like you used to. Oh, that happens to me all the time.
Right? As soon as I’ve got the GPS,
I’ve got no idea where I am. I know. You don’t know
where your house is anymore. I know!
It’s… You can travel the same path
10 times and quite easily… You’ve outsourced
that cognitive process. Artificial intelligence
is going to be one of the biggest, if not THE biggest invention – the most important invention –
of humanity. And it’s the sort of thing
where we’re looking at it… How is it starting to play a role
in so many different areas? Now, firstly, there is the term
‘artificial intelligence’ – ‘AI’. I liken this to the term ‘art’ – there are
many different forms of it, there’s many different ways
of achieving it. We always seem to bucket it
into one type of thing, and it’s been split up
into these areas of artificial narrow intelligence, general intelligence
and super intelligence. You may have heard of these. But what’s been happening is, you know, there are many
different types of technologies, many different types
of intelligence systems that have already gone
way beyond human capacity. Just take a calculator, for example. I mean, the things that
a calculator can do that we can’t, that doesn’t mean
that it’s getting ready to get up
and take over the human race or wonder where
its parents came from. (LAUGHTER)
Now, it’s, at the same time, a very important thing
for us to look into the future of how it’s going to impact humanity
in the long run. What we know now is that it’s being utilised
in many businesses, in many different designs and it’s making
new inventions possible, from medicine
to the way we do surgeries to inclusive technologies… To writing novels.
..to writing novels. Not a very good novel,
though, was it? (LAUGHS) It’s also produced poetry,
which also has not been amazing. Well, humans have produced
some pretty terrible poetry too. That’s true.
(LAUGHTER) But what I want to know is,
if we are outsourcing all of this cognitive activity
to machines, isn’t there a risk
that we become very bad at some of the independent thought that we’re supposed to be good at
as humans? I mean, in the age
of universal surveillance, do we run the risk
of losing whistleblowers, losing brave people that speak out
about risks that face us all and help us all
collectively avoid problems? Absolutely. I think the things
that we look at here are the humanity behind it all. So, it’s not what you have.
It’s not about the technology. It’s about what you can do with it.
It creates a new set of tool kits. And, yes, we do automate out… We have the ability to automate
so many different processes, so many things
that we do day to day, and that, of course,
brings about a fear of job loss. But at the same time,
this is the sort of thing that’s been given to us
from science fiction. I mean, science fiction… We used
to have a very clear distinction between reality and the movies,
reality and science fiction. And then, over time,
all these technologies started making their way
into the real world. So, from robotics
to artificial intelligence to virtual reality –
all these things that took over humanity
in some way in science fiction – we should treat that kind of like
a bit of a warning sign. And instead,
we need to rewrite a better future where these technologies are
utilised for good human purposes. So, we have to keep
raising the conversations as to how we want to utilise this, where the ethics of
these technologies should be going. We shouldn’t automate something
just because it can be automated. Automate it
if it’s going to actually help with the human purpose behind it. So, to deal with
all these vaulting technologies, it seems like
we have to be incredibly good, as a group of humans,
at making good decisions that are judicious
and take account of risks. But how good are we at that
right now? Yeah, I think there’s a little bit
left to be desired in that area. And, look, I think, you know, AI,
like any other kind of technology, there is great potential for harm and there’s great potential
for benefits. And the important thing is
that we understand – and I agree with Jordan completely – that we are the ones in the position
to be having that conversation now. And, you know, we don’t need
to be victims to that. We can set that agenda. But, you know, we need to be bold and we need to be courageous
about having those conversations. And I think that government
can play a really important role in having that conversation,
but they’re not at the moment. They’re trapped
in this sort of short-term cycle. They’re not incentivised or rewarded for really having
these conversations, so I think that, you know,
they can comfortably ignore it, and I think we need to unlock that. Well, it’s also very hard
to keep up with. I mean, when these technologies
move so fast that it’s hard for technologists and hard for the general public
to keep up with, it’s very hard for regulations
to keep up with this sort of change, to try and put boundaries around
how it should be utilised, especially when there are
so many different types of use cases of something like this. So, basically, being able to talk
to the experts in the field, to negotiate any sort of use case
that should be used, or anything that should be
otherwise somewhat avoided or treated with
a lot of caution and care, I think those things,
those conversations should constantly be
being had with… I agree. JOHN: AI can get some things wrong,
though, can’t it? AI can get many things wrong.
As we saw with… Like the 2019 election –
we all got that wrong. ..the Boeing planes recently, a classic example where, you know,
AI got it wrong. Yeah. And although it was in the manual
that the plane, once it got to a certain, you know,
elevation, would start to dive, nobody was trained
to actually deal with that, and a couple of them crashed.
So I do think you have to be… I think that’s the problem,
isn’t it? ..aware of the downside. When we think it can do
so much more than it can. Yeah. It does… ..which was what you were saying,
Annabel, is you really have to be on top
of the detail of the technology as to where it might go and to what you might be required
to do to actually regulate it or…or direct it.
CHLOE: Yeah. So, I think we’re a long… We’re still very much
learning by doing, to me, and it’s the very early stages.
Yeah. Still, thanks for bringing
unexpected plane crashes… Yeah, that’s alright.
..into the mix… (LAUGHTER) ..’cause, you know,
it wasn’t scary enough already. We do have an allied question
from Morgan Hamilton. So, automation of labour is
a big fear for a lot of people and will disproportionately affect
low-skilled industries, so how can we secure a future
for those…for the people affected when jobs are scarce now? OK. Who wants to deal with
job insecurity? Well, I think, to me…
Veena? ..you know,
we have to see automation as something that’s, you know, constantly been there
over the last sort of… ..if you look at all those years
where, you know, how much industrial sort of
revolution has been taking place. So, I think if we start to look at
the positive outcomes and say, “Alright, well,
if you’ve got a scenario “where this is seen
as an enabling technology, “automation and use of robotics
allows you to improve efficiencies, “and you can do so much more
with the resources that you have,” and also think about, you know, issues where you might be
looking at, you know, dangerous operations
or safety comes into play, there are many things that
you can actually use robotics to be able to… Whether it’s about
improving efficiency and safety for workers, I think you can start
to see that as part and parcel of… You know, people might have
heard of terms like “collaborative robots”, right? So, all of this is
about saying, you know, these become
your enabling technologies. So, it helps us improve
and deliver outcomes for people. You might be in…you know, working in a rather difficult,
you know, site or a location where
it might be very difficult for human beings to go in
and do some work in there. You can actually imagine that
you can send robots in. You can actually collect data
and information before you send human beings in
to do certain tasks. So, I think, to me, it’s also around looking at some
of the exciting new opportunities. I mean, we’re looking at
in our own recycling scenarios where we might be, you know, seeing, you know,
dangerous materials like broken bits of glass
coming out of our phones. And if we want to be able
to recycle those, it’s nice to be able to go, “Right, we can actually
modify microfactories, “have robotic supports and enablers “to pick up on these
rather dangerous materials,” so that we can in fact,
you know, keep human beings safe and yet get the most value out
of some of these materials. So, I think, to me, instead of kind of making life
difficult for human beings, we can actually start to see
how we might support people in doing a lot of these tasks. Well, until they invent
a driverless ABC panel show, I’m still feeling pretty confident.
(LAUGHTER) But, like, the driverless car
will make a huge difference to workforces around the world,
right? Like, not just to people
who drive for a living, but to motor insurance
and all sorts of other systems. How prepared are we for the way
that our workforce will change? I mean, the OECD reckons
14% of jobs can be fully automated, and about a third worldwide
can be significantly changed. Look, I think job security
is a very big issue. Even though
the measured unemployment rate is relatively low in Australia, we’ve still got
a couple of million people who are either unemployed
or who are looking for more work. And that reflects the fact that we
are in transitions in a lot of jobs. You used the example of
autonomous vehicles. I know in Europe, for example, they’re looking at the transition
to autonomous trucking, which is much safer, much cheaper, and you can move
much greater volumes. And that’s going to mean
in the US and Europe about 6.5 million truck drivers
whose jobs are at risk. 4.5 million of them
will actually lose those jobs and 2.5 million of the 4.5 million won’t get a job
back in the industry. So, the issue is transition. You know,
how do you deal with the fact that the technology is
going to drive that process? And, you know, by 2025, it’s going to be a very conspicuous
element of trucking in North America and in Europe. But the transition
is the important challenge. And I think there’s not enough
thought goes in, these days, into labour market policies
and so on as to how to facilitate
that transition. Some of it is retraining,
some of it is repositioning, some of it may be retrenchment, but certainly, you know,
people are going to be moving on. And the example of
the circle economy you were talking about…
Mm. ..you know, where you’ll have
a whole host of new jobs by using the waste we’ve got. We’ve got waste in this country,
right across the country. Feedstock in every regional centre. And it doesn’t matter whether waste
is sewerage or green waste or timber, fallen timber,
or household garbage, industrial waste, whatever – they’re all able to be recycled. They’re all able to be used
to make, you know, electricity or ethanol
or biofuels or whatever. And, you know, you can have
development of industries, industrial…
regional centre by regional centre. You know, small refineries,
small recycling plants. Yeah, absolutely. And these are all jobs.
Mm. Now, the loss in some of
those regional centres is very significant right now. You add to that
regenerative agriculture, which you were talking about, putting more carbon
back into the soil, gives the farmers
another source of income. This is a very important opportunity
for a country like Australia. But there’s no thinking about that. But I think this is…
Well, Veena is thinking about it. I mean, she invented a way of using
old tyres to make steel, right? Mm. Look, absolutely. And I think, to me, that’s…
We need more of you. (LAUGHS) Well, thank you, John. I’m doing my best
to be able to make sure that there are young minds
and talented people coming through the, you know,
education system who are actually excited about these
future opportunities. So, I think, you know, I mean, if we talk about jobs
and a circular economy, I think it’s important
to recognise exactly, you know, the point that you’re alluding to – that if we’re just putting away
our waste into landfill, you know, that might be
a limited number of jobs, but you could double
and triple the number of jobs by actually adopting
circular economy principles. Because what you’re then saying is that a lot of those materials
that we would’ve thrown away could well be recycled
back into our productive economy. So, we could be making
more sustainable materials and sustainable products, so we can actually sustain
some of these new technologies. Because, let’s face it,
if we’re talking about, you know, systems that need
energy storage devices, you know, where is all of that
going to come from in terms of the materials
that are going to sustain the manufacturing and production of these new devices
and new solutions? So, I think to me, yes, the new jobs
and the transition point you make is absolutely right. But we’ve had a problem in Australia
where we either landfill waste, which is a barbaric
environmental practice – it breaks the carbon cycle,
leaches into the water table, emits methane gas for decades,
for example – or we export it. And now, of course, our major…
export destinations – China, Malaysia, Indonesia,
Sri Lanka and so on – won’t take it anymore. So, we need
a national waste strategy as a matter of urgency, and I’m pleased to see the government is at least talking
about doing something about that. But we really do need
to think about it, because it’s been all too easy
to just have a disused mine site and fill it up with garbage. Jordan? Coming back to, I guess, the effect
on jobs for…for automation, artificial intelligence, robotics – which are separate fields,
but can all be linked in many ways – we’ve got to look at places like
Germany, South Korea, even Japan, who have a great adoption
of automation and…and yet have
low unemployment rates. Now, one of the things
that I saw over in Japan that I thought was…
was really interesting was how there were many jobs
for many things that we have automated here. There were many jobs. Out on the street we saw a truck
come out of a shopping centre, and two people blocked off
the pathway from people walking past and then a third person came out. But they were all
so beautifully dressed as well, so it gave a sense of pride. I think we have to think about
the adaptation of…of work in jobs when automation is something
that is so rampant. And like you were saying, the transition is going to be
incredibly important. But, at the same time, we should also look at the impact
on those different sectors, because it is different
for different sectors, different types of work. Think about how scary
it would’ve been to be a teller
when the ATM came out. Now, what happened was,
in that level of automation, like many, we moved towards
trying to focus and refocus on the human experience. There, you know, tellers obviously
would’ve been quite scared but then branches started
having people who were like relationship
and customer managers. And it gave…
The banks have been great! Oh, yeah.
(LAUGHTER) OK, we’ve got to take
another question now, from Dennis Fitzgerald. DENNIS: This one is to Jordan. Why haven’t we got
the future I was promised as a 1960s child
as shown by Lost In Space, which was set in 1997? Basically,
how accurately can we say what science is going to do when there’s so much
unreliable information available? That’s a good point. You are… I think the movies definitely
gave us a lot of…and many films, many science fiction novels,
gave us these depictions of a future where it was actually
still surprising how a lot of those technologies
did become possible over time. And at the same time,
it’s also an interesting thing to find out what is here now. You know, I’ve been over to…
to many different countries to see these different levels
of technology. I’ve been in passenger drones. We’ve got now the potential –
and it’s already been made – completely electric,
completely autonomous passenger-carrying mega drones, where you can get into… ..into a thing that looks
like a vehicle… It looks like a quadcopter,
basically, taken and made bigger. So, any sort of drone,
taken and made bigger. And it can get you
in and out of a location. Completely electric,
completely autonomous, and it only has one seat. Now, what I think that could do
for emergency services could be pretty amazing to get in
and out of a location very quickly. But we’re getting flying cars
in some way. They don’t quite look
quite the way they do in the movies. I’d prefer…prefer a DeLorean,
personally. The Jetsons had it right.
Yeah. I was fairly sure I’d have a jet pack
by now, but no. (LAUGHTER) Chloe, is that your fault?
You’re the Futures Project… Look, I think there’s a saying –
predictions are really hard to make, particularly when
they’re about the future. And, you know,
it is difficult to, you know, make future predictions
with 100% certainty. But, you know, we do actually
have a lot of expertise, a lot of evidence-backed research
in Australia that we can call on, and I think it’s important
that we take note of that and say, “OK, we just need to start
having this conversation, “and perhaps it’s multiple futures
that we’re looking at.” You know, it’s not saying it’s
just going to be this specific way. But we can already
start talking about the risks, and I think it’s naive
and it’s a folly to say, “Oh, well, that’s just
too complicated a future “and we can’t look at it.” Let’s go to another question now. The next one comes
from Scott Rayburg. Yeah, thanks. I’m really interested
in the conversation that you’ve been having, and the word ‘opportunity’
has come up a number of times. And when I look at Julian’s book
and the crises he’s identified, I see opportunities
in a lot of those crises. I’m wondering whether you think that the language that we use
around threats is leading to our inaction,
in a lot of ways, and how can we maybe flip the script and start talking about
these opportunities and move forward
with some of these crises? How important is language
do you think, Chloe? Is fear a motivator, or does it
matter the way you talk to people about threats in the future? I think it’s a really
important issue, and I think really it’s about
getting the balance right. So, these issues are critical
and they are urgent. So, you know, it’s understandable if we want to use
this kind of alarmist language, or if, you know, we hear it,
we fear…we feel fearful. But, you know, I don’t think
that fear is a good place for us to be making decisions
or to be taking action from, so I think we need to reframe
the conversation as, it’s urgent
and we need to do something, but we want to be doing that
from a place of possibility and a place of respect and trust. And so, to me, this is about
rebuilding a sense of trust that has been in decline, rebuilding some confidence
in the system. And this is not… I’m not just
talking about politics here. I mean across society. So, I think the media
has a role in this. I think citizens
have a role in this. I think, you know,
we should take the opportunity to elevate the conversation. Julian, some of your books
need an M15+ rating… (LAUGHTER)
..’cause they are a bit scary about disasters that confront us. How do we talk to children about the future
and the future risks? I mean, recently
the Prime Minister said that he didn’t like Greta Thunberg
and the way she spoke ’cause it was frightening
for children. How do we handle that? Well, the first thing
I’d like to say is that our…we’re…the best… ..the thing that humans
are best at is surviving. We’ve been doing it
for a million and a half years, since we first discovered fire, and we discovered fire in order
to stop animals eating the kids. Right? So it was
a very important decision. So a lot of our technological
decisions all down the ages have been motivated by concern
for our own survival. Don’t care whether
you call it fear or what. Now, as a newspaper editor, I once ran a newspaper
for three weeks which had only good news in it. And the circulation fell by 15%. (LAUGHTER)
Right? People don’t want only good news. They want to know
what the bad stuff is so that they can prepare
for the future. So I don’t believe
we should be scaring kids, but I do think
we should be informing them. I think we should be
informing everybody about the scale of the risks so that they understand them fully and they can then apply
their minds to solving them. Because these risks are not
going to be solved by governments. They are not going
to be solved for us. They are going to be solved
by us changing our behaviour. Moderating the things we do. And as far as I can see,
Greta Thunberg and the rest are already into that. You know, they are going to change
the world whether we like it or not. So, I think
they’re embracing the risk and they’re looking for
the solutions. And that’s as it should be. Veena, you’ve made a career out of
taking something that is depressing – excessive human waste and rubbish
and our failure to recycle – and making something positive
out of it. Do people respond to that,
do you think? Is that a motivating factor?
I think absolutely. I mean…and the sense I’m getting
both at the community level… I mean, as I’ve travelled through
so many different communities across the country,
and I think also businesses. You know, I think that ability to in fact see that there are
positive solutions and to be able to think about how we might be able
to convert something, that might sound
like it’s all doom and gloom but actually when you unpack it and think about
what we can do with new technologies as we’re developing
new technologies, I think it’s fantastic,
’cause I think… I mean, whether you’re a kid who is studying, you know, science
in school or not, or whether you’re
an established business. I’ve seen across that full spectrum
where businesses who have actually been
well-established businesses… I mean, you know,
a business I work with, you know, 100 years old,
celebrated 100 years last year. And I think, to me,
a classic case of a company that’s saying, “Well, yeah,
we’ve been making steel “for all these 100 years,
but do you know what? “There’s an opportunity now
around the corner “for us to be able to produce “all kinds of
other exciting, cool materials “for a future digital economy.” So, I mean, think about
the electrification of our planet and think about copper and all
of these fantastic materials. So the fact that people
are sort of going, “Wait a minute, I’ve got
all these fantastic skills, “I can now convert those
into creating materials “that I’ve never really done before
but I know I can do it,” because I think
that’s where that optimism and indeed based on strong scientific
and technological foundations can actually be built on. So I think people are excited
by the future. Jordan, do you want
to make a case for terrifying people? (LAUGHS) Look,
this is where science fiction has also had that role
for a long time. We don’t want to watch movies where
it’s a utopia all the way through and everything is all well and good
because that seems to be boring. So it’s been us as the consumers
who have sort of set the pathway of what sort of stories are told. But, Julian, what you said there
about putting out good news and people not wanting to see it
and that’s where it drops, well, it’s how it’s framed. I think that’s the important thing. Because it can still be
really exciting to put out good news stories if it always has that sort of
purpose behind it. What is the purpose behind it? And in a few of
my ABC documentaries, we’ve always started with this,
where here is the human purpose and here is the exciting journey
we’ve got to go on, but there’s lots of challenges
that you’ve got to learn about along the way and that you have
to be able to solve and problem-solve your way through. And I think that is something
that we have to be doing. We have to be not only
putting out, you know, the realism behind a lot of what is happening
out there in the world, but spreading fear,
I don’t think it… I don’t think
it is very constructive. I think if we can set a more
exciting and positive future that we can all work towards, I think that’s where we…
we should be starting. John? A political system
doesn’t help this. I mean, short-termism… The modus operandi of
a Trump or a Morrison is to control the narrative – “We’re going to do this, and
anything else is fear and anxiety.” Right? You can get very nervous
about the alternative. Whereas, in fact, if you turn
that on its head and they actually started
to talk about opportunities and the positive direction
that we might go and get rid of the negativity,
if you like, and start on the positive, I think
we’d have a very different sort of environment in which to look
at some of these questions. Well, Malcolm Turnbull tried that
for a little bit, didn’t he? We’re going to come back
to political strategy in a moment. So, let’s move along
to the next question. And that one comes
from Maree Horseman. MAREE: Hi. Thanks, panel. Having witnessed numerous Australian
political leaders fall victim to their attempts
at progressive policymaking, does the panel see a way to overcome
the factional power games and partisan politics that consistently thwart long-term,
sustainable solutions to some of our biggest challenges? Whereupon I throw it back
to you, John. (LAUGHS) Well, I mean, I think leadership
is the answer there. I mean, we have… The system has become sort of
inward-looking and self-absorbed. The sort of people who get
preselected these days are not necessarily those who are
going to make good ministers. The skills you need to get through
the factional process to be preselected
in any of the major parties are not skills
that are going to help you run a multibillion-dollar portfolio. So, we’re getting the wrong people.
They’re self-reinforcing them. I mean, they will all tell you, “We’re in the game, you know,
to make a difference.” We don’t expect that difference
is for them. They talk about it being for their
children and their grandchildren, and then they skew
any longer-term strategic thinking that might be consistent
with making that contribution. So, the political system has become
so self-absorbed and so short-term that it does throw away
a lot of opportunities. And that’s where I think
the Greta Thunbergs and my kids, for example,
they see what’s wrong with us. They see we’ve missed the point. And, you know, I know they’re
pretty binary, it’s black and white, you’re either doing it
or you’re not doing it, but it makes a big difference that the next generation,
as soon as they vote, you’re going to have a very
different world in this country and I think globally. Chloe, your organisation
pledges to tackle the root causes of short-termism. So, what are they
and how do you do that? Yeah, so I think when… You know, our diagnosis
of what we need to have a really fit-for-purpose
future-making system is that we really need three things. We need trusted information – and that’s information that comes
from experts and research. And we need that to be married
with good data on what it is that Australians
actually want. What are they concerned about,
what are their values? So we need information on that. The second thing that we really need
is a sense of nationhood. I think we need some kind of
shared understanding of who we are. And I think, you know,
national identity, that’s a tricky thing
to talk about. I don’t know whether
we could come up with an all-encompassing
national identity anymore. But at least a sense of, you know, there is a reason why we’re in this
together and we are better together. And at times,
we’ll need to make compromises or make trade-offs
in the long-term national interest. And the third thing that we need
is courageous leadership and action. And so, for us,
they’re the sort of three pillars and you can see across those things that there’s issues
with each of those and broken parts
of the system there. CRIBB: Annabel, could I make
just a small point there? Yes, of course. In the present Australian
Federal Parliament, only 4% of politicians
have got a qualification in science, technology,
engineering or mathematics. So, we have a parliament
that is 96% unqualified to make major decisions in this, the century of science
and technology. Should there be a quota
for scientists? (LAUGHTER)
No, I don’t think so. But we need to change the process by which politicians
are preselected for us so we get more people
with the skill sets who are capable of understanding
the risks that we’re running and appreciating the opportunities
those risks throw up. Exactly.
So we need a… You know, that’s the case in
other countries around the world. They’ve got much more technologists
in the parliaments and legislatures than we have. Let’s take the next question now.
It comes from Jonty Hall. Good evening. My question, I suppose
particularly to John Hewson, but also I’d like to hear
from the rest of the panel – given the continuing inaction
on climate change, and also the desire across
many industries for greater certainty
on the future of climate policy, what can Australian businesses
actually do to force action on this issue,
more than what we have had so far? So I might throw this question
briefly to you, Julian. Is there an expectation
or now growing obligation on private enterprise to make up for the shortfalls
of government policy? The governor of the Bank of England
said last week that basically businesses
that weren’t future ready, able to cope with climate change,
were going bankrupt. And, you know, our own
Reserve Bank has been warning that if we’re not ready for it,
we’re going to cop it in the neck. So, yes, look, I think industry – you know,
agriculture, manufacturing – they are all aware of this and they are all getting
their heads around it. And I think it is they
who have to put the pressure on the political machinery
to catch up. They’re back in the 19th,
20th century. They have not found themselves,
you know, in the modern world yet. Well, it’s nearly 10 years now
since the Rudd government and the Turnbull opposition
came together and nearly made a climate pact. Nearly 10 years ago now. Do we now rely on business to make these changes
to ensure their own survival? Is that what we’re looking at now? Look, there’s no doubt
that business is responding. I mean, when you get
the big miners, for example – BHP, Rio, Glencore, Woodside –
all saying what you have got to do is take decisive,
government-led action on climate and they don’t listen… (CHUCKLES) You know, or when every poll
in the country, 60% to 80% of people, want
decisive action on climate change, they still don’t listen. You know, when you get
a Greta Thunberg and moving a whole global motion –
a movement, I should say – they still don’t listen. They don’t want to listen.
But business is actually moving. A lot of businesses have signed up
on net zero emissions by 2050. A lot of them are adjusting
what they do and it doesn’t necessarily
cost them money. You know, I remember I worked
on a printing company, about 15 years ago, on the board. I asked we get our…
“Can’t we get our carbon footprint?” Big users of electricity, big users
of transport and logistics. And the conclusion was,
by just reorganising those two, the use of those two, not firing anyone,
not cutting anything, you could reduce the cost base
of that company by about 25%. It was positive
and it made a big difference. And now businesses
are starting to work out that they can do things differently
without really a lot of pain and actually get
substantial benefit. And, of course, some of
the leading businesses around the world
are moving very quickly. The Googles and Apple and so on,
they have become carbon neutral. They have got investments
in solar farms to generate their power alternatives
and so on. I mean, this is happening. And I think it takes
quite a Luddite to sit back and ignore all that. But we have a room
full of them in Canberra. Is it…
(LAUGHTER) (APPLAUSE) Just before we move on,
Chloe, is it alright to outsource public policy
to private enterprise? I mean, is that a reliable way
of going on forward? Well, I guess as John said, in some instances, I think it’s just
what’s required and what’s needed. And you know, business is canny. And, you know, they know
that zero or low emissions is just around the corner. But I think they are also,
you know, in some ways crying out for some policy certainty
about that transition. And, you know, I completely
agree with you. But I think, you know, government can have
a really important role to play and I don’t think we want to get
to a stage where we’re just trying to completely cut them
out of the picture. I think we want to think about, “Well, what is it we can do
to unlock that?” If they had set a framework… I mean, I obviously have to talk
about my own past, but we took a 20% cut in emissions
by 2000 off a 1990 base. If we had done that
every decade since, we’d be at about half
the current level of emissions now. We would… The Paris commitments
would be irrelevant. We’d be well on the way
to a transition to a low-carbon society by 2050. Electricity and gas prices
would be much lower, you know? And so we’ve really squandered
decades of opportunities by not facing the reality
of the challenge and seeing the opportunity that that brings for a country
like Australia, where we can be a net exporter
of energy, not just a consumer of energy. We can replace the coal industry,
as an export sector, with the export…exporting
hydrogen, exporting solar power to other regions. So, there is a lot of potential. We’re going to stay with climate
and our next question is a video question from
Michelle Grosser, in Warrandyte, Victoria. In May 2019, the UK government
declared a climate emergency. Since that time,
they’ve looked in detail at the way the economy
can be decarbonised. They’ve also looked at
the long-term security of their food and their health. There’s obviously benefits
to looking at the policy decisions with a long-term lens. However, our conservative government is fighting to retain
a short-term focus. Why? Chloe, why is it that some issues
really catch fire in some legislatures
and not in others? I mean, why has climate been
so politically divisive in Australia and less so in the UK? Yeah, I think climate change
is a perfect example of the issue of short-termism
in Australia. And I think, you know, as you said, 10 years ago, we were
on the verge of something and now it’s looking fairly hopeless
at the moment from a political standpoint. You know, I think it’s basically
just become a political football. And, you know, in the short-term
game that I spoke about, this highly-divisive,
hyperpartisan arrangement, it doesn’t serve the interests
of the politicians to bring into the conversation some of the evidence and research
that we have. So, as I was talking about before,
we need this trusted information and we need that to be a mix
of what experts are saying and what Australians are saying
they care about. Well, we have a huge body
of evidence and experts saying that this is a huge issue and we have a lot of data that
Australians really care about this. We ran an initiative in the run-up
to the recent federal campaign called The Perfect Candidate, and that collected data
from 250,000 Australians on what were their top concerns. Well, on a national level, climate change
was the fourth concern. So we’ve got both those things
but because they’re in this system, this sort of vicious circle, it doesn’t serve them to look
at either of these… ..you know, either the evidence
or what people want. But how did the UK…?
The contrast between Australia and the UK
couldn’t have been more explicit. On the day that Theresa May… One of the last things she did
as prime minister was to declare a climate emergency. It was the same day we gave the
final approvals for the Adani mine. And that tells you everything
of where we sit. And if I think back over
the transition in the UK, a couple of elections ago,
the three major parties agreed, “We’re not going to debate coal,
we’re not going to debate climate, “it’s off the political agenda.” They’ve made a transition
basically away from coal. This is a country which,
in the Thatcher era, the ’80s, had some of the most divisive
and painful mining strikes, coalmining strikes,
you can ever remember. The whole country has moved away
from a dependence on coal. Germany’s doing it. And you say…in Australia, you say,
“Oh, we can’t do it. “It costs too many jobs.” I think there are about
12,000 members of the CFMEU in the coalmining industry
and we’ve got 25 million people. I mean, there are transition
possibilities there, which are real, and they should be taken. So, 10 years on, do we have a chance to get back to a position
of consensus or does our tribalized
system of politics now forbid it? I think you’ve got to…
The issue is now too important and we’re too late into the game to leave it to the current batch
of politicians. We do need to have something
like a commission that lifts it out
of the day-to-day politics and looks at the longer-term
transition requirements, sector by sector –
power, transport, agriculture, building, industrial processes,
and so on. I mean, that’s the framework. If the government sort of stepped
out of the way and that framework was set,
we could catch up, I think. Julian. I think Australians at the moment
are discovering how little democratic power
we’ve actually got. It’s shrinking before our very eyes. The vested interests are in there, ensuring that we don’t get
what we want. The only choice that we have is
to take back our democratic power, both as voters,
but particularly as consumers. Let us start consuming
the clean, green energy, the clean, green clothing, the clean, green housing. You know, we have to… We have to vote with our feet
and with our wallets. We have to send the economic signal
to industry and then industry tells government
to get in line because they’re not listening
to our votes in the ballot box. We really have to change
the way we do things. And, you know, this problem is not
going to be solved by politicians. It’s going to be solved
by every single human being changing their behaviour. OK, Jordan? Do you think we’re doing enough
on this to even, I guess, explore a lot of these sort of technologies and the advancement of our science
and technology in this space? Like, looking at sustainable,
renewable energy sources, things like the sun, we’ve got an
abundance of that here in Australia. And…and we had
a molten salt power station, which, you know, if we’re going
to look into all these different types of
renewable energy sources, the sun’s energy, middle of the day,
on a summer day at sea level, can generate…it can hit
the surface of the Earth, one metre squared
for just one second, we’ll have about a kilowatt of power and that could actually power
your phone for about a month. Now, this is…if we’re able
to harness all these, we’ve been looking into…into
photovoltaics for many years. But I was at a molten salt
power station just two weeks ago – one of the largest in the world – and it was able to generate
100 megawatts of power and this was in Dunhuang, in China. And at the same time, I was having
a look at that sort of technology. Now it’s kind of like
when you take a magnifying glass and…and focus the sun’s energy
on one particular point. This is a whole bunch of mirrors, basically 12,000 sets of panels
of mirrors, which direct the sun’s energy
to the top of a tower, which pushes molten salt through
288 degrees Celsius, it’s able to move at a molten state. They heat it up to
565 degrees Celsius. Turn the heated-up molten salt
into… They…it boils water,
turns the steam into energy. So, it’s a renewable energy source.
It’s beautiful. This is something that we have been
exploring here in Australia. And in South Australia last year, they were actually trying
to get it off the ground but the funding fell through… That’s true.
..early this year. We actually have better
Australian technology… See Jordan for further detail
about molten salt because we are running out of time! This is an emergency. But I think this is the point,
right? I mean, we talk about, you know, technologies. We’ve got to actually look at also
where we’re ready and prepared to take on clean technologies
in a way that we address the energy, you
know, water materials, all of that. So, you know, we should be able
to say, right, if we are going to now look
at energy storage devices, for instance, ’cause when you talk
about harnessing renewable energy, coupled with that, of course,
you need to be prepared to be able to store energy. And I think, to me, this is exactly
the kind of opportunity that, you know, we’re talking about
businesses and enterprises and I think there are many
businesses who are basically saying, “Right, you know,
let’s look at the opportunity,” traditional businesses, you know,
moving and making that transition into renewable sector. But also then equally saying, “Look at it
more than just understanding “that sort of scope of,
you know, harnessing energy.” But then also coming back and saying
can we actually start to look at how we’re going
to store energy, which means are we going to be able
to produce, you know, batteries and are we going to be able to do
that locally here in a way that it helps, you know,
local businesses? But I think, to me, underpinning
all of that is our ability to make it possible right here
in Australia. You know, our looming emergency is that we are facing
a broadcast cut-off. We’ve got time for one last question, if you’re all super quick
about answering it. It comes from Alex Giannopoulos. Much of the political discourse
about the future tends to focus on things that need fixing, but are there things
we’re already getting right today, which future generations
will thank us for? Anyone think of anything?!
(LAUGHTER) Don’t all jump in at once! I think our greatest success
in the post-war period has been to build
a very tolerant, multi-racial, multi-religious,
multicultural society. You know, it’s a work in progress,
you have to keep at it. But that has been a tremendous
development in this country, the envy of the world. It sits in contrast, by the way, to the fact that we haven’t dealt
yet with the First Australians and recognised them properly
in the Constitution. But that has been
an enormous success. But it’s going to have to be
worked on going forward. Chloe? I think, despite all
the doom and gloom, you know, there’s a lot of evidence to say that this is the best time
to be alive. So I think, you know, if we can work
to make sure that, you know, we don’t go backwards from here, well, we can offer
future generations an even better best time
to be alive. Jordan? I think we absolutely have to be
talking about the future and where we’re headed. We as individuals, as groups,
as organisations, as collectives, we have more power than ever before
because of the rate of change – the change is so fast today,
it’s absolutely rampant. It will probably be the slowest rate
of change we’ll ever see again. So what we have to do is to learn
to embrace this change, connect, collaborate and figure out
how we can share these good stories
of where things are going but also how we can take action
on these big dreams. So, let’s stop dreaming about
a better world and make one. The most important development
of the last 40 years worldwide is that women have understood
we have a population problem and they have halved their fertility
worldwide. They didn’t ask men about this. They just got in there and did it.
(LAUGHTER) Women are the natural leaders
of our planet in the 21st century. They have to lead
in every single sphere. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) In politics, religion, business –
women have to be up the top. Blokes are great at making war. You know, they’re great
at cutting down forests. You know, they’re great
at poisoning things. (LAUGHTER) If you want someone
to lead this planet, you need someone who thinks about
the grandkids and women tend to do that. So please put women in charge, and we will have
a sustainable civilisation. (APPLAUSE) And we’ll start off by giving one
the last word. Veena. Well, thank you. And I think, you know, I’ve got
to probably point to something that maybe not
too many people realise but, you know, because, obviously,
I’m passionate about recycling, I’m going to use an example that,
you know, we have to be proud of the fact
that we, as a world, a collection of businesses,
communities and so on, have actually created some pretty remarkable, successful
recycling technologies. And let me pick up on something
like steel, just that everyday metal
that we use in our homes and building infrastructure. Steel is now recycled and
that’s part of regular business. More than half the amount of steel
in the world can actually be recycled
productively and, in fact, I think, to me,
the fact that, you know, we’ve taken a technology
to that point where it’s just part of
normal business, and to be able to add to the fact
that we’re actually now talking about the world’s
most recycled material being steel. And I think, from our point of view, it’s something that, you know,
we can all sort of look back and go, “Yeah, actually, you know,
with the last so many decades, “we’ve just made this thing
become normal.” So it’s great to have that sense of
feeling that it is possible. Thank you, Veena, and thank you
to all of our panellists for dragging us back from the edge. That is all we have time for tonight. So, please thank them – John Hewson,
Chloe Spackman, Jordan Nguyen, Julian Cribb and Veena Sahajwalla. Now, of course, you can continue the
discussion on Facebook and Twitter. There’s so much more to say. Next week on Q&A – Hamish Macdonald
will be in the chair as we focus on the threat of drought. Joining the panel – the Minister for Water Resources,
Drought and Natural Disaster, David Littleproud, the Shadow Minister for Agriculture
and Resources, Joel Fitzgibbon, the President of the National
Farmers’ Federation, Fiona Simson, the Australia Institute’s senior
water researcher, Maryanne Slattery, and Kate McBride, the 21-year-old
grazier from Menindee who spotlighted thousands
of fish deaths in the Darling River. Goodnight and good luck. Captions by Red Bee Media Copyright Australian
Broadcasting Corporation