2018: Same-sex marriage becomes legal in Australia.
2021: Australia votes to become a Republic.
2025: An outbreak of antibiotic-resistant foot-and-mouth disease devastates Australian beef and livestock exports.
2027: Central Australia is hit by the most sever droughts in recorded history, triggering years of severe and widespread bushfires.
2029: China drastically reduces its reliance on Australian coal exports, and the expected Indian market for Australian coal does not emerge.
2031: Australia enters a ten-year economic recession.
In response to the recession, Australia has relaxed labour and taxation laws for large businesses. Multinational corporations based in Australia became major renewable energy innovators. Essentially, we innovate our way out of the recession, and Australia became a major provider of wind and solar power to the region. Australia has tilted to a hyper-capitalist model, with a highly individualistic society and significant income inequality. The rich are very rich, but most of the Australian population lacks access to quality healthcare, higher education and employment opportunities. There is regular civil unrest, including domestic terrorism targeted at corporations.
In terms of wealth equality, a very small percentage of the population possess the most wealth.
Education is low, and the divide in education is a reflection of wealth disparity, ie. rich kids are the smartest. Still, most people across society don‘t progress any further than Year 10.
Migration – Australia has closed its borders entirely, meaning minimal if any refugee intake, with the exception of East Asian migrants (wealthy Chinese and Japanese, who have a significant impact on the economy).
Food – a foot and mouth outbreak has levelled the beef industry. This leads to an increase in aquaculture, forcing governments to address ocean pollution and invest in sustainable factory fishing. People eat more fish, more prawns, more krill.
Public transport infrastructure in large cities is good, powered by 100% renewable energy.
Industry – work days are longer and work conditions are poorer. The retirement age is 75. There has been an increase in manufacturing industries since they dropped off at the start of the 21st century. Most industries consist of human workers operating and maintaining robotic systems and manning computers, meaning widespread yet minor workplace injuries. A large number of Australian offshore workers spend three-month shifts mining Antarctica for minerals.
Regional relations – we are still aligned with the US, and still trade with China. There is a tense but essentially peaceful relationship with Indonesia, where both sides abrogate responsibility for the massive waves of Indonesian refugees arriving in Northern Australia.
Media – the ABC has been dissolved. Ordinary news services have been replaced by crowdsourced, app-based reportage, making for much wider but far shallower journalism. So-called “professional” journalists are a thing of the past, as is print media. When police arrive at a crime scene, there are no longer reporters or news crews there, just throngs of nearby civilians who have received a push notification, using their camera phones to try and score a few bucks by uploading the best footage of the crime scene.
Gender – the death of labour-based primary industry (mining, agriculture) has seen a decline in the overall machismo in the Australian identity. This allows for more gender fluidity, high acceptance of different gender roles and relationships, and sharp declines in street violence and domestic abuse. Sexualisation in popular culture (ie. boy bands) becomes more androgynous.
Teenagers (especially rich ones) are major cultural consumers. They receive a sexual education and become sexually active much younger, but have healthier and more informed sex lives. The boy bands they enjoy are highly sexualised, but this is seen as the norm.
Boy bands themselves engage in singing and dancing – a full spectacle. A large part of their appeal exists in their constantly-evolving online personas, and the level of interactivity between them and their fans in the digital realm. Boy band members will often live-stream their entire lives.
Bands are owned by corporations, and their musical output is essentially a high-gloss form of advertising. They have no individual expression. Members are expelled by being dished up to the entertainment media in contractually-obligated, pre-meditated scandals. The search for their replacement is then the subject of regular reality TV events.
Indigenous relations have reached a point of benign neglect. The Government no longer has the money to constantly intervene, so they withdraw from rural centres, leaving remote Indigenous communities to fend for themselves. In some instances, these communities collapse without Federal support – but in others, some communities thrive and see a return to more traditional ways of life. In these communities, substance abuse becomes a lesser issue, and nationwide, Indigenous incarceration rates decline.
The population has grown steadily, reaching approximately 40 million. Age and well being is again a reflection of one’s wealth – rich citizens can live to 120 years old, whereas the poor die younger of easily preventable conditions, due in part to poor healthcare, education, and aged care systems. In the megacities of Sydney and Melbourne, where the majority of Australia’s rural population has relocated to, euthanasia is commonly accepted and catered to by the state.
In Sydney and Melbourne, civil order is easily disturbed by political / ethnic militias, carrying out street justice (and street dentistry). Large pharmaceutical companies and large corporations are a common target for domestic terror attacks. These sorts of attacks are now commonplace, to the point where they no longer warrant reporting in the media.
The criminal justice system is focused more on civil obedience and large-scale control than it is on individual, personal, small-scale crimes. They contain protests and focus on domestic terrorism. Minor felonies are left to communities to sort out. The response to murders varies depending on the profile of the victim.