In the media release by Malcolm Turnbull for the “Ideas Boom” it is hard to know why the word design doesn’t make an early appearance. Although, it’s not so surprising given that the arts do not have a billing at all. Not even the word creativity fronts up in the policy statements. The aim, we can read, is to “boost education in digital literacy, science, technology, engineering and maths.”
This is a curious but significant omission. The role that creative industries – in particular design – play in our society seems to be neatly excised from the discussion about what Australia needs. Designers in particular should be affronted by the lack of recognition of the role that is played by design in our daily lives.
Reading through the list of money to be spent reveals a paucity of ideas about where innovation might be needed. One (unforgivable) omission is the failure to fund ways of ways of developing practices and products that produce clean energy: Necessary and popular with voters. We do know of course, that the coal lobby is always ready to shut down or distort genuine debate about how design can assist us to exit from the king of primary industries – coal.
This is a big problem that goes unrecognized because the enemy within is part of the history that is Australia, a country that has traditionally made its wealth from various forms of primary industries. Coal has just followed on from wheat and wool etc. This history has led to the hegemony of primary industry in the political processes. Framed another way, there are many politicians (and lobby groups) that have made their money from the land. There are no designers, architects or artists in the current government, and this needs to change.
Instead of listening to the same old lobbyists we should be be appointing more great designers as advocates to be a real part of the political process.
There is a belief that the problem of “innovation” can be solved by re-arranging tax breaks and “relaxing the insolvency rules“, but the fundamental shift away from the influence of the politicians and their general ignorance of design issues is yet to take place. Instead we have fiscal fiddling by the government to create an “ideas boom.”