WHAT DOES AUSTRALIA look like? In the 1950s a school-aged Hilary McPhee, in an essay on what Australia would be like in 2000, foresaw it as ‘clean and orderly and laminex coloured – and everyone had an abundance of leisure’. McPhee was Chair of the Australia Council in 1995 when she recalled her schoolgirl crystal ball-gazing. It was part of a speech in which she canvassed how Australia could best develop its own multimedia publishing industry.
‘The transition from present to future was never going to be an easy one,’ McPhee said. Email was uncommon at the time she made the speech, except in arcane research settings; mobile phones were barely out of the province of the early adopters; online content was still mostly conceived in terms of CD-ROMs. Global media conglomerates were about to swamp Australia’s tiny pockets of production, went the generalised fear, and Australia wasn’t ready to compete.
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