You know when you hear things on the media, and they sound like if they''re implemented, or come to fruit, they'll change things so much for the better? and 5, 10, 15, 20 years later, you remember about them, and realise that future never came? The other day, there was a media report that Australia now only uses cash for 20% of its transactions, down from 30% 4 years ago. And days later its set off my gut instinct. My gut threw back a concept and my brain came up with the phrase "Early Adaptors".
You see, for all our geographical isolation, split-brain xenophobia, political idiocy, trailing behind progressive Northern Europe, and passionate love-hate affair with American culture, Australia has way of quietly, invisibly, being the first, or one of the first few, nations in the world to implement stuff.
We've had the most cell phones per head of population for some time now.
1988, the world's first anti-counterfeit plastic bank-notes were Australian.
1970, the first in the world to make seat-belts compulsory to wear at all times, and heavily police the law at implementation, plunging the road death toll per capita.
Former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke was previously the world record holder for the fastest drinking of a yard of beer, when he downed a sconce pot in eleven seconds as part of a traditional Oxford college penalty
1901, the first nation in the world crated by a vote of citizens instead of by war, revolution or invasion.
1894, South Australia became the first nation in the world to grant women the vote. I'm claiming that one because South Australia became a state of Australia in 1901.
in the 1980's the Labour government - the party for the workers and disenfranchised - radically abolished tariffs and we've been making Free Trade treaties all over the place since. Financially we're one of the least protectionist nations in the world, and we've swallowed it despite a massive turnover in industries, businesses, and small farmers. Diplomatically, economically and scientifically we have punched far above our population weight on the world stage for at least 60 years. This is despite having a rather modest GDP growth rate. On the flip side, we're one of the cruellest nations to asylum seekers who arrive by boat, with all sorts of innovative ways of keeping them in concentration camps for years before admitting they're genuine refugees and releasing them, with a bill for their years of compulsory confinement.
Anyway, I just have this feeling. Most experts think that there will always need to be cash in society, and if we get rid of it, criminals will just invent something new to circulate. But I bet, I bet you that the first nation to officially abolish cash (even if it doesn't stick) will be Australia. We are already in the process of abolishing cheques.