Aspirational Australians’ “obsessive focus on material acquisition,
encouraged by governments who worship economic growth and little else,
have locked us into a probable long-term disaster scenario for Cruise
Ship Australia and for the planet as a whole,” railed playwright David
Williamson in his 2005 Sir Rupert Hamer Lecture at Melbourne’s
Swinburne University (re-published in

The Bulletin

). To which

Piers Akerman


Gerard Henderson


The Australian

took exception.

Here, David Williamson responds:

I totally expected this kind of response to my ironic state of the nation piece “Cruise Ship Australia.”

the usual right wing heavies were wheeled out to pour scorn. The one
thing you can’t do to these Gross National Product worshippers is
suggest that eternal economic growth and ever-increasing material
acquisition are unsustainable in the long term, or they literally go

Their ostrich-like behaviour is extraordinary in the
face of the growing evidence that things can’t go on as they are. Even
the progressive oil companies are warning people that the age of oil is
coming to an end. The resource is simply running out and there are no
obvious replacements.

Oil has fuelled our growth and supplied
the great bulk of our energy. The price of oil is tipped by even
conservative observers to be on a permanent rising curve, some
predicting a hundred dollars a barrel within a year. When these sort of
prices start to bite, the picnic is well and truly over on Cruise Ship

We have tripled our real income since 1950, but
surveys show we are no happier with our lives. Some studies show we are
actually unhappier. What’s the logic in eating up the earth’s resources
and leaving our children and grandchildren a lot less well off than we
are if the habit isn’t even making us happier?

Is there no-one
of intelligence on the right who is prepared to look at the the long
term consequences of the way we are behaving towards our fragile
planet, and look beyond Gross National Product as the be all and end
all of everything?