Extremely Complex, But Not Without Hope

Posted on: Thursday, 11 August 2016 at 7:48:47 PM

Extremely Complex, But Not Without Hope

Article on AICC(WA)’s Annual Geo Political Event featuring Mr Gregory R. Copley AM, President & Chief Analytical Officer, ISSA-The International Strategic Studies Association, USA

Wednesday 10 August 2016

               

The reverberations from an address by Mr Gregory Copley to the AICC(WA) a decade ago, entitled “Can Australia Survive the Next 50 Years?” still waiver around Perth.  Host Mr Tony Joyner, Managing Partner HSF Perth, noted that the accuracy of Mr Copley’s strategic foresight and predictive geopolitical foresight, as also borne out by his numerous books, had not gone unnoticed.  Mr Joyner further raised socio-economic issues that threatened stability and impacted economic security, opening a platform to which Mr Copley delivered great insight.

Mr Gregory R. Copley AM, President, ISSA – The International Strategic Studies Association, Washington DC, USA

As a new annual event in the AICC(WA) calendar, proudly hosted by HSF and sponsored by McRae Investments, the thought leadership that feeds into Western Australia’s economic future will be an asset for all concerned about international relations.  In the presence of the current and former Governor, Parliamentarians, and senior business leaders, Mr Copley first delivered a professional and personal tribute to Dr Harold Clough, who he described as a “national treasure”.  He extended further appreciation to Mr Stephen Quantrill, Executive Chairman of McRae Investments for his ongoing sponsorship of AICC(WA) events.

A West Australian by origin, Gregory Copley is one of the most prolific and respected commentators in his field.  He delivered a brutally honest, if somewhat pessimistic account of his topic “Australia's Options in a Totally Transforming Global Context”.

With tremendous clarity, Mr Copley set the scene by calling for an understanding of the global strategic context so that Australia could navigate through a period of dynamic change and uncertainty.  Political leaders, political systems, economic systems, social and technological change all combine to deliver this dynamic.  Mr Copley emphasised the importance of first understanding “who we are before we ask what the future holds”. 

From L to R - Mr Stephen Quantrill, Executive Chairman, McRae Investments Pty Ltd, Mr Tony Joyner, Managing Partner, Herbert Smith Freehills, Mr Gregory R. Copley AM, President, ISSA – The International Strategic Studies Association, Washington DC, USA, Her Excellency the Honourable Kerry Sanderson AC, Governor of Western Australia, Honourable Malcolm McCusker AC CVO QC CitWA, Chair of the Executive Board, WA Health Translation Network (WAHTN), Mr Graham Laitt, President, Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (WA) and an AICC Governor, and Managing Director, Milne AgriGroup Pty Ltd, Mr John Cluer, Chief Executive, Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (WA) and seated - Dr Harold Clough AO OBE, Chairman Emeritus, McRae Investments Pty Ltd

 

He described commercial and political conflict between what he dubbed “The Process Gang” and the “Outcome Gang”.  The Process Gang are those who wish to keep doing what they have always been doing, and the Outcome Gang are those who drive innovation and change.  This philosophical divide underpins the plans, methods and tools with which we apply our approach to the strategic context.

Taking a longer-term view, Mr Copley posed that the international borders and political systems that evolved from WWII now face unprecedented challenge.  He identified five factors, being technological evolution, living standards, trade relationships, urbanisation and population growth as the key contributors.  He particularly noted “The relationship of people to geography is, once again, fluid, because we are now at the end of an era of stable nation-states and stable relationships of people to their geography. The world is on the move.”

The consequences of the above elements combine to threaten the stability which Australia confronts globally.  He cited urban related health issues, trans-national migration patterns, and the confidence that populations have in systems of Government has key risks.  “Civilisations,” he noted “are like all living organisms, with predictable life-spans. Their arteries become congested with legislation and practices, with historically-developed senses of hierarchy and entitlement.”  Further discussed was utility dependency, especially water and energy, delivery of which is critical for survival.

Having set this scene, Mr Copley submitted that “things are not going to carry on as before. If we wish for a better future, then we must take the steps to achieve it. I would like to say that the future is in our hands, but it is, in fact, in our minds. Everything is about the imposition of human will.”  He explained that in the past change has been incremental and therefore societies have adapted with culture shifts that are not rapidly thrust and therefore do not cause alarm.  This process of “self-regulation” has been a luxury, one that may not necessarily be accorded moving forward.  Our ability to progress in terms of wealth creation, lifestyle and security may have peaked and Australia may need to prepare its next generation for lessor expectations of employment and consumption.  Population growth and distribution patterns can be expected to alter.

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Mr Tony Joyner, Managing Partner, Herbert Smith Freehills

From L to R - Mr Stephen Quantrill, Executive Chairman, McRae Investments Pty Ltd, Her Excellency the Honourable Kerry Sanderson AC, Governor of Western Australia, Honourable Malcolm McCusker AC CVO QC CitWA, Chair of the Executive Board, WA Health Translation Network (WAHTN) and Mr Graham Laitt, President, Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (WA) and an AICC Governor, and Managing Director, Milne AgriGroup Pty Ltd

“The physical ability exists for most governments (if they choose society interests over leadership interests) to produce and deliver the basics of survival — food, water, and shelter, and even electrical power — even if they were forced to utilize resources only available within their own borders. That is not the challenge.  The challenge is represented by the conundrum of how to pay — ie: in what form — for the equitable provision of such basics if the economy continues to decline. Because what comes into question in times of stress is not the tangible commodities themselves, but trust in the mechanisms to acquire and distribute them.”

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From L to R - Honourable Malcolm McCusker AC CVO QC CitWA, Chair of the Executive Board, WA Health Translation Network (WAHTN) and Mr Graham Laitt, President, Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (WA) and an AICC Governor, and Managing Director, Milne AgriGroup Pty Ltd, Dr Harold Clough AO OBE, Chairman Emeritus, McRae Investments Pty Ltd, Mr Gregory R. Copley AM, President, ISSA – The International Strategic Studies Association, Washington DC, USA

 

Australia’s ability to adapt to future trading environments requires more creativity but also requires that the prestige of institutions be maintained as a pre-requisite to sustaining trust in currencies.  Currency stability is a key risk going forward in the global trading environment.  Mr Copley predicts greater expressions of nationalism, and a reversion from regionalism and globalism, were now beginning to become evident as a reaction to the threats to societies, as the stress on geographic borders continues.  Democracy would survive but our definition and relationship to political systems should be expected to change, both domestically and internationally.  He suggested that pursuing the same approaches and policy imperatives which had delivered in the past would no longer be viable, given that the global context had now changed.

Mr Copley concluded by noting: “The good news for Australia is that its enduring commitment to agriculture will pay off over the coming period of global uncertainty. Already, agricultural productivity growth commits greatly to our GDP and exports, and demand for Australian agricultural products will be the next major requirement from China, as that country undergoes a major water challenge which will impact its food security and ultimately its national security. The low value on international markets of the Australian dollar is also a great asset, but we have yet to take advantage of it.”  He advocated further regulatory reduction, new export incentives, and competitive tension within the Federation as elements to assist.

Through stimulating engagement and questions with his audience, Mr Copley discussed border protection.  He discussed the Brexit and future of the EU, noting that the protection of borders had been eroded.  Mr Copley asserted that the US influence and power base had eroded, and that a lack of prestige was the consequence of recent US foreign policy.  He suggested that the US had enormous resources and could rebuild itself, however global power shifts were already evident.

From L to R - Mr Stephen Quantrill, Executive Chairman, McRae Investments Pty Ltd, Her Excellency the Honourable Kerry Sanderson AC, Governor of Western Australia, Honourable Malcolm McCusker AC CVO QC CitWA, Chair of the Executive Board, WA Health Translation Network (WAHTN), Mr Graham Laitt, President, Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (WA) and an AICC Governor, and Managing Director, Milne AgriGroup Pty Ltd, Dr Harold Clough AO OBE, Chairman Emeritus, McRae Investments Pty Ltd, Mr Gregory R. Copley AM, President, ISSA – The International Strategic Studies Association, Washington DC, USA, Mr Tony Joyner, Managing Partner, Herbert Smith Freehills and Ms Pamela Copley, Executive Director, ISSA - International Strategic Studies Association and, President, Argonaut Water

 

Further discussion regarding Australia’s education system was also put through questions.  Mr Copley suggested that the biggest threat to our education was historical revisionism, noting that a failure to understand who we were as a people threatened a loss of national identity.  He advocated greater balance between academic, scientific and technical education, citing trends in the employment market and economic productivity. 

Mr Copley responded to a question from Mr Ian Blaney, MLA, about China, noting that the combination of China’s growth and geopolitical power shifts created a new environment that Australia needs to adapt to.  Our ability to adapt has not previously been forced, but necessity may force cultural change within Australia.

Finally, Mr Copley was questioned about the role of Israel as a driver of economic growth and the great complexity associated with its regional alliances.  He responded that Egypt was a key relationship partner for Israel, and noted that the regional trade relationships impacting Jordan, and trading axis into Europe had rapidly emerged.  The political turmoil in Turkey and the further ability of Israel to reach African markets were also critical relationships that were becoming far easier to evolve due to Israel’s water and technology capabilities.

Mr Copley has already accepted an invitation to return to Perth and address the AICC(WA) as its geopolitical activity further evolves. 

Mr Gregory R. Copley AM, President, ISSA – The International Strategic Studies Association, Washington DC, USA and Her Excellency the Honourable Kerry Sanderson AC, Governor of Western Australia

 

Mr Graham Laitt, President, Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (WA) and an AICC Governor, and Managing Director, Milne AgriGroup Pty Ltd and Mr Gregory R. Copley AM, President, ISSA – The International Strategic Studies Association, Washington DC, USA

 

Mr Gregory R Copley AM

Gregory Copley is an advisor to governments around the world for the past 40 years, and the author or co-author of 33 books, including Australia 2050; Such a Full Sea (Australia's Options in a Changing Indian Ocean Region); UnCivilization: Urban Geopolitics in a time of Chaos; and The Art of Victory.

 

Clockwise from top left - Ms Pamela Copley, Executive Director, ISSA - International Strategic Studies Association and, President, Argonaut Water, Dr Harold Clough AO OBE, Chairman Emeritus, McRae Investments Pty Ltd, Honourable Malcolm McCusker AC CVO QC CitWA, Chair of the Executive Board, WA Health Translation Network (WAHTN), Mr Sean Salter, Vice President Technology, Woodside Energy Ltd, Her Excellency the Honourable Kerry Sanderson AC, Governor of Western Australia, Mr Graham Laitt, President, Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (WA) and an AICC Governor, and Managing Director, Milne AgriGroup Pty Ltd, Mr Joe James, Political and Economics Officer, U.S. Consulate, Mr Gregory R. Copley AM, President, ISSA – The International Strategic Studies Association, Washington DC, USA, Mr Geoff Morris, Director, LWP Property Group with Mr Paul Kordic, Principal and Notary Public, Cullen Macleod Lawyers and Mr Ben Morton MP, MP for Tangney, Parliament of Australia

 

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