How would a political history lesson in 2064, about the Australia of 50 years ago sound? Here is how it might go.
Welcome students to the 2064 class on Australian Political history. Today we look back 50 years to 2014. Some of the goings on then may seem fantastic, delusional and downright ancient, but it is all true, and it is only half a century ago.
Lets start with some of the gender topics of the time. There was still debate about gay marriage. Hard to believe anyone actually opposed it. We have had it for 40 years and the world has not collapsed but there were plenty of people opposed to it in 2014.
Governments were male dominated. The party in power at the time only had one female cabinet minister. Now it is the men complaining about being a minority.
Having a baby was seen at the time as a poor career move for women. You either had a career or had a baby. Now of course, we have women taking the first year off work, and the husband taking the second year. The option of course is for both to take up to two years off work, as long as each person takes the same amount of time. A subsidy is paid to ensure the couple’s income meets a minimum income level determined each year.
Another moral question that has gone full circle was euthanasia. At the time, governments were opposed to it. As you will be aware we had it legalized in the 20’s. Over the next decade we had multiple legal cases involving people pressured into euthanasia by friends and relatives. We had failed attempts that resulted in paralysis and brain damage. We had individual cases where it was not clear if the suicide had been at the instigation of the deceased, or if they had been killed.
In the end, the legislation was withdrawn about 20 years ago. It was replaced by the concept of TC4L (Too complex for legislation). About 10 years ago we finally introduced the concept that some situations are too complex to be covered by a written law. As you know, they are now adjudicated by the Ethics Council drawn up of those considered moral beacons in our society. Of course these moral beacons must not bring a religious bias to their rulings.
The views on the environment were ludicrous by the standards of today. There were still plenty of politicians and voters who thought climate change was crap. Some did it overtly and some subtly. Australia was at it’s peak as a coal producing country. Some people could not see the opportunities renewable energy presented. That is why we are so far behind today as a leading producer of renewable energy options.
Strange as it may seem, we kept supporting the US in the middle east. There was never a definitive victory. Australia kept sending troops and bringing back bodies. Nothing changed. It was not until Turkey and Saudi Arabia combined to crush the radical Islamists in the 40’s that peace was restored, and the middle eastern map re-drawn.
One of the strangest political issues of the time was the support of the government for business. Some have called it a fear rather than a support. In a time of global tax laws and consistent treatment of corporate fraud, it is hard to imagine a time when governments allowed companies to move profits to tax havens and low tax environments. It was not until the famous United Nations versus Apple trial in the 30’s that the balance tipped in favour of tax equality. Now of course, companies are audited for social contribution, and taxed heavily if they fail to meet their social obligations or act in the best interests of society.
Speaking of taxation, if you earned over $20k at the time you had to pay income tax. There was a GST but only 10%. In 2014 terms, you now have to earn over $100k before excessive salary tax is paid, and GST is now 15%. The tax back then was based on your income, rather than what you spent. Those who saved for the future had to save with after tax dollars. Now of course, you can save your pre-tax dollars. It is only when you spend it you pay tax.
If you have the time, see the video book “Modern slavery. Refugees in Manus Island and Nauru 2014”. This details the draconian way in which refugees were treated by the Abbott government of the time. The Royal Commission held in 2025 compared the situation to the “Stolen People” issues from years before that. Now of course we have resettlement councils that take in refugees and provide accommodation, education and jobs. It is forecast that there will be a shortage of refugees in the next 50 years and countries will need to bid for their quota.
Terrorism was a problem at the time – more so than now. It was not until the establishment of the Terrorist State near Pakistan after the final middle east war that we started to see a decline. Now anyone convicted of terrorism is micro chipped and banished for life to the Terrorist State. They cannot leave and if they do cross the boarder, the micro chip releases a poison into their body which causing instant death.
2014 was also the time before the BOG AIR (Bill of Government and Individual Responsibilities). In the 20’s and 30’s there was a movement to create a bill of rights for Australia. This resulted in BOG AIR which defines what government is responsible for, and what the individual is responsible for. For example the government provides medical treatment and the individual contributes up to a maximum of 6% of their wages to support the scheme. At the government level, we have our annual review by the Ethics Council which is published for all to see. If a government fails to meet a minimum standard, an immediate election is called.
Another change to the country occurred during the 20’s. Australia was once answerable to Britain. The Queen at the time was head of state. The Republic of Australia was only created in the 20’s. Our new flag featuring the aboriginal flag in the top left corner where the union jack once sat happened about this time.
Many other changes have happened since then. It may be hard to believe things were so primitive in 2014. Enlightenment takes time. Perhaps, as students, you should think about where you would like the country to be in 2114. Can you be part of the force to move the country in that direction?