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Malcolm Needs To Think Of The Millennials

23/09/2015 9:06 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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History will no doubt harshly judge the past decade in Australian politics as a case study in complacency, mismanagement and recklessness.

During the worst global economic crisis in a generation, Australia has been geologically and geographically blessed with an abundance of valuable natural resources at a time when our closest neighbours are industrialising before our eyes.

This once in a multi-generational alignment of the proverbial economic stars should have laid the foundation to endow a nation for centuries. Instead, young Australian's are laden with record debt and deficit that will take their entire lifetimes to repay, the causes of which they contributed very little to accumulate.

Australians of all ages have had a gutful of the political spin and lack of substance, because the results speak for themselves. Australia's 29th Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is inheriting a nation crying out for authentic leadership and stability in an uncertain and changing world.

Australia is not just where we live, it's who we are. Our population is small, highly skilled and innovative, but technology and the Internet means our geographic isolation is now irrelevant in a global marketplace that creates phenomenal economic opportunities. Will we as a nation evolve to embrace the opportunities of tomorrow or continue to argue the problems of yesterday?

Imagine a Government and Senate that work together to realise the immense potential of enlightened public policy relating to the economy, immigration, technology, workplace flexibility, innovation and taxation. These are unique opportunities to shape Australia for the next century and underpin the basis for enhanced prosperity.

Prime Minister Turnbull has numerous immediate challenges but he might consider channeling US President Bill Clinton and focus exclusively for the next 12 months on 'the economy, stupid.' Indeed a strategy aimed with a laser-sharp economic agenda will go a long way to winning over the skeptics on the conservative side who have yet to be won over.

Moreover, it will complement the main argument for challenging a sitting Prime Minister that the economic message needs a better communicator, and will go a long way to avoiding potential mistakes caused by gotcha questions from a media hungry for gaffes on social policy.

Prime Minister Turnbull will also need to demonstrate his persuasive communication skills to sell robust policies and restore needed confidence. If there were ever a time to emulate the another US President, it is Ronald Reagan as The Great Communicator. After all, it's a timely reminder that Australia's most valuable resources are not buried under the ground, they're in the minds of ambitious young people.

That time is now.

There are 4.3 million young people in Australia, roughly one in five, and that number is expected to grow by 50 percent to 6.3 million by 2053, making us one of the youngest populations in the world. Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia Phillip Lowe said, 'There is reason for optimism here. In a number of areas, Australia's demographic trends are... favourable... the challenge we face is to build on these advantages.' Indeed this is the greatest economic opportunity our nation has ever witnessed.

Millennials are the most politically independent generation in history, unbound by party affiliation and skeptical of political bureaucracy stifling progress. They are also the generation with the most at stake from more political chaos in Canberra.

Malcolm Turnbull has many challenges, but he also has the unique ability to persuade and inspire the engine room of the country, young people, to believe tomorrow will be better than today. There are infinitely more things to be excited about as a young Australian today, than ever before. As a nation, let us all work together and support our Prime Minister implement the innovative strategies needed to lay the pathway to sustainable economic prosperity.

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Jeremy K. Balkin is a former adviser to Malcolm Turnbull and author of the book, Investing with Impact: Why Finance is a Force for Good.

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