The last two years seem to have passed in a state of suspended animation – although things happened around us, there was a feeling of being a casual observer of our own activity.
A pandemic, one supposes, does that to people; constant lockdowns add the dimension of Groundhog Day syndrome where we relive the same day over and over. As we end 2021 and start 2022, one hopes, nay, prays, that COVID is behind us.
But with the recent emergence of the new variant Omicron, one can only wish that we are able to keep at bay Pi, Rho and Sigma, the next Greek alphabets earmarked for possible mutants of COVID-19.
Assuming we are finally going to get a sense of normalcy, let’s look at what to expect in 2022 in Australia and globally.
Here are my seven issues to look out for:
- Elections will dominate the sound cloud in Australia for most of the year, with Federal elections to be called before May. It will be a brutal fight between Sco-Mo and Albo and one suspects it will not be pretty. If the Labor Party caused a stir with their ‘Mediscare’ campaign in the 2016 elections, the Coalition hit back with their retiree tax scare campaign in 2019. If the early analyses are any indications, the Indian Australian community in certain marginal seats, especially in Western Sydney, can hold the key to the Lodge. The Liberals need to double down to win them over – there’s a fair bit of anger there in the community.
- Property prices are predicted to continue rising but not as strongly as in 2020/21. Modest price increases in 2022 will allow a gradual slowdown in 2023. The only caveat to the price increase will be if interest rates increase sharply, but in a Federal election year that will not happen.
- The return of the international students will be welcomed by universities and employers who are facing staffing issues. The debate on migration numbers will be ramped up as skill shortages continue to bite.
- China will also dominate the front pages of newspapers in the coming year, perhaps the coming decade. For its part, China will focus attention on developing countries who feel they have been ignored by the developed countries. And the battle between the two superpowers – China and the US will rage on.
- With mid-term elections in the US, expect Donald Trump to rally the faithful against both the Democrats and parts of the Republican ranks. America is fragmented as a country with a divided population between the Republicans and Democrats, and Trump will play to this weakness.
- India will also be fascinated by elections as Uttar Pradesh and Punjab go to the polls early in the year. How PM Modi’s backflip on farm laws impacts his party’s election chances could form the template for Opposition attacks.
- The ICC T20 World Cup will be played in Australia next year: could we hope for an AUS v IND dream final at the MCG on 13th Nov?
Fair to say it promises to be an exciting year ahead, as we re-emerge on the world stage and cast a pandemic-weary look around us.
Wishing all of you a happy and healthy 2022.