Here are the key issues the CSIRO says are going to shape Australia's future

Photo: Tim P. Whitby/ Getty.

Change is a constant in life.

The march of progress, technology, society, and culture are constantly challenging us as people, and as a nation. This century the emergence of the iPhone, cloud computing, enhanced computer power, robotics, automation, energy storage systems, and many other technological advances seem to have accelerated the pace of change in modern life.

It would be easy to feel like we are getting swept up in the wave with little control but in its Australian National Outlook 2019, the CSIRO argues that we have a choice of maintaining the status quo or making an active choice to do better as nation.

The report, in which the CSIRO uses an analytical framework of modelling and research together with input from a panel of participants comprised of more than 50 leaders across 22 Australian organisations, says the difference between reform and stagnation could mean as much as a $40,000 difference to Australian incomes by 2060.

In order to capture the more positive of the potential outcomes the CSIRO says there five key issues which “will require significant action and long-term thinking” if the nation is to track toward “an inclusive, resilient and prosperous economy”.

The report says existing industry needs to increase the adoption of productivity-boosting technology and invest in skills to keep the workforce globally competitive. Crucially this will keep the workforce ready, able and “prepared for technology-enabled jobs of the future”. Australia also needs to develop export-facing growth industries.

It says this can happen if Australia’s regulatory system promotes innovation, which in turn will allow, new technology-enabled growth industries and business models to flourish.

Crucially, though, it says the government should let nature take its course and warns “this report shares the long-held view about exercising caution with regard to picking winners”.

The nature of Australia’s cities will change, the report says, noting, an urban “shift will enable well-connected, affordable cities that offer more equal access to quality jobs, lifestyle amenities, education and other services”.

This means we need to plan for increased densification of our cities, but they need to be well connected internally to combat sprawl and reduce congestion.

The report also suggests more mixed zoning across our cities to “to bring people closer to jobs, services and amenities”. And of course, part of doing this properly requires an investment in transport infrastructure “including mass-transit, autonomous vehicles and active transit, such as walking and cycling.”

It’s been a point of political contention for the government, but the report says an energy shift will allow Australia to transition to “a reliable, affordable, low-emissions energy economy that builds on Australia‚Äôs existing sources of comparative advantage”.

That is, the declining costs for “generation, storage and grid support” will allow Australia – with the assistance of improved technology – to improve energy productivity and reduce overall energy use across both households and industry.

The CSIRO suggests a shift will come as Australia harnesses “digital and genomic technology, as well as using natural assets more efficiently”. It also says Australia should actively participate in forestry carbon capture and invest in biodiversity and ecosystem health in order to ensure the maintenance and increase in land productivity.

After the past decade we’ve had in politics, it is no wonder the report says Australia needs to rebuild trust in the political, business and social institutions.

It also highlights that social and environmental outcomes need to be included in decision-making processes but notes that Australia needs to “encourage a healthy culture of risk taking, curiosity and an acceptance of fear of failure to support entrepreneurship and innovation”.

If we can do that, the benefits to the society we live in are abundant.

You can read the full version here

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.