Feb 042008

It’s a play on words, a political mechanism, and hopefully a means of Government actually achieving something positive in policy direction for the longer term benefit of Australia.

Ten topics for discussion by ten groups of 100 eminent persons, hopefully chosen for their expertise in groups relevant to that expertise.

  1. Future directions for the Australian economy – including education, skills, training, science and innovation as part of the nation’s productivity agenda;
  2. Economic infrastructure, the digital economy and the future of our cities;
  3. Population, sustainability, climate change, and water;
  4. Future directions for rural industries and rural communities;
  5. A long-term national health strategy – including the challenges of preventative health, workforce planning and the ageing population;
  6. Strengthening communities, supporting families and social inclusion;
  7. Options for the future of indigenous Australia;
  8. Towards a creative Australia: the future of the arts, film and design;
  9. The future of Australian governance: renewed democracy, a more open government (including the role of the media), the structure of the Federation and the rights and responsibilities of citizens; and
  10. Australia’s future security and prosperity in a rapidly changing region and world.

There certainly are some deep and meaningful questions on the drawing board, all of which you can find here. Some are decidedly touchy-feely and some are just plain touchy. Take a couple of the planned questions for study from the ‘Long-term national health strategy’ group:

How we plan to ensure all Australians continue to have access to the very best of modern medical technology including pharmaceuticals
Strategies to preserve Australia’s internationally unique blend of public and private health services

I’d suggest that Medicare will loom large here. How will ideologies play out? We’ll have to wait to see, but having political oppositions from federal and state levels, no doubt distributed among the working groups, should reveal some interesting outcomes on such issues.
These chat conferences are always fascinating do’s, and sometimes productive results are achieved. Bob Hawke’s fest in 1983 is one which gets a mention from Dennis Shanahan today but as he points out, that conference had a very tight and defined agenda. Workplace relations. This planned Rudd Government 1,000 person shindig has a tremendously broad agenda. It’s hard to see how anything constructive can be achieved from a two-day gab-fest among 100-people working groups. Clearly, we can’t expect to see anything of substance come from this weekend in April until much later in 2008, if then. The process of weeding out, accepting and rejecting ideas, plans or processes will be a long one, fraught with pitfalls both ethically and politically.
In addition to the 1,000 eminent persons from all over, it seems you and I will be given a chance to contribute as well.

“all Australians will be invited to make submissions on each of the 10 future challenges. These will be submitted to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet which will act as the secretariat for the Summit. An Australia 2020 website will provide a digital forum for this purpose.”

A ‘warm-and-fuzzy’ approach, perhaps? Okay, I’ll try not to be cynical and give the thing a chance to gel out, but this is a politically driven initiative, remember. The issue will be one worth following as an indicator of just how politically oriented the Rudd Government will be, in comparison to it’s predecessor. Howard’s Government was driven by ideology, first, last and always for eleven long years. That’s primarily why the nation is where it’s at now and why there is no continuing long-term view of where the nation is headed or why. Howard and crew had no forward plan for the nation beyond their own narrow ideological world view. Will Rudd’s mob be much different in the final wash-up? Time will reveal all, I’m sure.

  One Response to “Australia 2020”

  1. I can think of quite a few participants, none of whom would be welcome to the Establishment (even during this alleged interregnum) but I do know who MUST NOT be allowed to particpate.
    Any politician of any degree, local, State or time serving apparathcik. Also shoot any lawyer or economist who dares approach on sight.

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