Historic moments don’t always feel historic, but this one is pretty hard to miss. 2020 isn’t even over, yet it’s easily the most tumultuous year Australia has experienced for decades.
We have had a good national conversation about how to manage the immediate challenges of the COVID crisis. We have had a reasonable discussion about reform options as we recover. But what about the Long View?
What does COVID mean for Australia - not up until Christmas, or until the next election, but in the decades to come? What can we learn from past generations of policymakers about how to use this moment to set Australia up for the next wave of national prosperity?
If there’s a single message to take from 2020, it’s that we don’t have a choice anymore about whether to change or not. The world is not going to get put back together the way it was before. Post-COVID politics needs to be about transformation, not restoration, and driven by optimism, not nostalgia. And while we cannot go back, our country has more choice and agency and control over our future than at any other time in living memory.
But what are our choices, and how should Australia be thinking about them?
In March 2020, Clare started a podcast called the Long View as a forum for in-depth, thoughtful and respectful discussion about these questions. The result was 17 conversations, and roughly 60-hours of discussion, with 34 incredibly smart people who care desperately about the future of our nation.
This speech is about what she learned. About the big opportunities we face, about the approach governments could take to those opportunities, and about the kind of politics, too, that would see us capture them.
This will be a chance to hear a perspective on what is at stake as we navigate the next few years in politics, and what this period could mean for the country we will leave to our children and grandchildren.
Clare O’Neil was elected as the Member for Hotham in 2013. She is now the Shadow Minister for Innovation, Technology and the Future of Work.
Before entering Parliament, Clare worked at McKinsey where she helped Australian companies across most major sectors of the economy solve some of their most difficult problems.
Clare has Arts and Law degrees with Honours from Monash University, and a Master of Public Policy from Harvard University where she studied as a Fulbright Scholar.
Clare is a former Mayor of the City of Greater Dandenong and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. She co-authored a book, with fellow MP Tim Watts, entitled Two Futures - Australia at a Critical Moment.