24 APRIL 2021

Dr Barry Jones AC, Australian Living National Treasure, internationalist, politician, author, and futurist gave a provocative presentation as the speaker for U3APP’s third Saturday Seminar this year.

What is to be done? is the question that he posed in his latest book, “What is to be done: political engagement and saving the planet”

Dr Jones provided some lucid insights into core issues.

Although the i-Phone has more computer power than the first space craft to the moon in 1965, this growth in computing power has not been universally used to enhance the ways our society operates. In the 1980s Dr Jones had hoped that the digital revolution of recent decades and the great increase in the number of Australians gaining tertiary degrees would have promoted serious debate about the big issues facing our country and humanity. He now maintains that the opposite has happened. There is now a dearth of debate, and political engagement has declined.  Australians are not joining political parties; and too many of our federal politicians now see Parliament as career opportunity, rather than a place for engaging with the big issues. To Dr Jones the existential future of liberal democracy is at stake. The most recent demonstration of these trends is the emergence in recent times of authoritarian world leaders.

There are however some optimistic signs. State and territory governments have  demonstrated strong leadership and attention to science in their responses to COVID-19 and they are leading the way on climate change.  Industry is also starting to take the lead, ahead of governments, in setting targets for reduction of carbon emissions.

What is to be done?  Barry Jones explored the need for more people to fully engage in the political process, not just political party members but all of us no matter what our interests or backgrounds.  Individually we can make a difference.

Marcel Colman proved adept at facilitating this seminar dealing with these big topics. There was positive audience response including one suggestion that Barry Jones be the first head of an Australian republic!

To watch the recording of the seminar, click HERE.

Pam Caven

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