Simulating the Future

April 1st, 2009 Fast Thinking, Features

It used to be called role-playing, but an interesting example of an intellectual simulation was on display in Perth recently. Minds to Mines and Beyond was a theoretical debate created by the Technology and Industry Advisory Council, the first of a series pitting public figures from the near future against each other as they argue over the realities of a post-minerals WA and its place in the Australian economy.

Moderated by Austrade chief economist Tim Harcourt, science reporter Robyn Williams, Perth Lord Mayer Lisa Scaffidi and notables from the government, resources and planning sectors played the roles of future Prime Ministers, Premiers, Planning Ministers, Economic and Science Advisors and more.

Over a swanky lunch, attendees were treated to a lively and occasionally overzealous clash of viewpoints. Those representing WA dismissed the traditional finger wagging from federal and eastern powerbrokers after growth that not only still outstrips NSW and Victoria but props up the rest of the country.

Famous American economic rationalist Milton Greenspan made his case for realigning Australia’s economy to the post-boom period, and science advisors continued to be mostly ignored (Robyn Williams, playing the relevant minister, revealing that his office was a ‘brick dunny’, his annual budget no more than a bill from a Brian Burke lunch).

Jovial though it was, Mines to Minds was a thought provoking exercise, several short videos postulating the effects of a devastating epidemic grinding the Asian economy to a halt or a huge resource find on Tibetan soil that will render Australia worthless to China.

As a government-funded body charged with the task of providing technology and energy policy to the WA government, TIAC provided a forum for debate much more effective than the dry reports and Powerpoint presentations we’re used to.


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