“One driven by an innovative private sector that can underpin our continued prosperity and increase our resilience to shocks,” he said.
“Technology and innovation will be key to this diversification, driving the creation of new globally connected industries, developing a strong services-based export sector, and boosting productivity in existing industries.”
The CSIRO and National Australia Bank are leading a project called the Australian National Outlook, which includes over 50 senior leaders from across businesses and non-governmental organisations, to answer the fundamental question: “How do we ensure that Australians enjoy the world’s best quality of life on Earth and that future generations of Australians have access to even better opportunities?”
Mr Thodey said the review had modelled the consequences if there was inaction on major challenges, such as low technology adaption, population growth, declining education outcomes, an ageing population and carbon emissions.
“Our economic growth slows; inequality rises; our cities sprawl and become more congested; and we fail to meet our climate change commitments,” Mr Thodey said.
“We’ve also modelled a ‘more visionary’ scenario where we consider several more positive outlooks and also considered the factors that will help us achieve them.”
He said the rate and breadth of technological change over the past decade had been greater than his 40-year career and “is happening more quickly and more broadly than we have seen before”.
Cloud and quantum computing, data analytics, robotics and automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning, virtual reality and increased connectivity through 5G wireless technology were just some of the emerging technological advancements.
“This technological change is having a significant impact on our nation and on many of our public institutions,” Mr Thodey said.
Mr Thodey delivered his Manning Clark Lecture at ANU in place of departing NAB chairman Ken Henry, who was due to deliver the keynote address but withdrew following his resignation in the wake of the banking royal commission’s damning conclusions.
“I should also quickly state that I am a very poor substitute for Dr Ken Henry for whom I have enormous respect,” Mr Thodey said.
Separately, Mr Thodey is also chairing a review of the Australian Public Service.
“I believe we have one of the best public services in the world,” Mr Thodey said.
“The principles of an apolitical APS, of frank and fearless advice, and serving the government of the day must remain as they have served us well historically.”