Sunday, 20 April 2008

2020 enthusiasm

Managed to see some of the 2020 Summit on the telly today and felt a complete nerd for wishing I'd watched it all weekend! I love seeing people converse about ideas, and I also enjoy seeing how people organise such brainstorming (some 'streams' were better than others I noted; eg. economists over farmers, although, apparently the formality (or lack thereof) of the rooms could be responsible for this - interesting in itself).

Overall, I noticed a couple of themes that flowed through all the streams (note the lovely imagery there).

1. Including the greater community more in politics and collective decision making. There was talk in the Governance stream of information going both ways: accessible to the public (via a website) and also feedback and input from the public. Social inclusion. Nice.

2. Many were enthusiastic about multi-lateral approaches and greater integration between different areas, ie. government, business and community. Also to fix the troublesome and overly complex relationship between federal and state governments. Therefore, integration of governance. Hurrah.

The themes that PM Rudd noticed were:
  • the desire for a seamless national economy
  • climate change: impact is wide-ranging and affects all policy areas
  • fix the relationship between Commonwealth and state governments
  • desire for a more open government and improved public service
  • increasing our role for 'good' in the world

The Initial Report from the Summit notes four overall themes: "Responding to climate change, creating a seamless economy through a national approach, developing people [this could mean lots of procreating... but I don't think so], and strengthening civil society..."



In regard to the brief summaries and ideas of note that each stream presented, I noticed that the following received enthusiastic responses from the audience:


Community Corps, to enable reduction of HECS debt (ie. student loans, if you're o/s) through participation in community service.

Having one national curriculum, which would save money which can be better used by schools.


"Have a health system structured around the person rather than the provider – in which every Australian has access to their own health data, and there are better and transparent data flows across all health players."

"Have health policy focused on prevention."

"Have “One Health System” – a community-driven system with single governance, management and funding."
And a national (independent) preventative health agency "funded by taxes on products with high social cost, e.g. alcohol, cigarettes and junk food (like a national version of VicHealth)."

"Make healthy food choices easy", eg. fruit at schools and delivered to Indigenous communities, easy 'traffic light' food labelling, ban on marketing junk food to kids, and "regulating the allowable content of unhealthy ingredients."

Also a couple of 'out of the the box' ideas such as educating children about a wide range of health issues, and organ donation being an 'opt out system'.


"To ensure that the major languages and cultures of our region are no longer foreign to Australians but are familiar and mainstreamed into Australian society."


"The implementation of tax and other policies that encourage the use of public transport."


This one got the biggest applause of all: An Australian republic. Simple!
"A top priority in this stream was the need for an Australian republic, to be enabled by a proposed two-stage process, with wide community involvement and ownership of the outcome."

They also liked the idea of a more collaborative government:
"Another major theme was the need to strengthen the participation of Australians in their governance: a revolution in community and government interaction through grassroots and non-traditional community engagement, as well as more formal electoral processes."

And, wonderfully, there was much support for the vision of Parliament 'question time' being a 'real exchange' instead of the useless mess it currently is. (Oh please please please!!!)


There was some support of NAB donating millions to support disadvantaged groups in starting new businesses.

But there was mostly enthusiasm for a National Development Index which could measure social growth. The example was that we see politics, sport and finance on the news (as they are readily measured) and should also be able to hear, for eg., how many trees had been planted that day, and other such good things (like what celebrity has just had a baby... oh, that's right, we already get that).
"A National Development Index, based on economic, social and environmental measures, which would incorporate social inclusion indicators."

Myself, I didn't think the Healthbook idea sounded that flash (one's private health details on a web page like Facebook, so your doctor and friends can see all that's wrong with you - oh, woo hoo, that sounds like fun: "Oh hi Mum... Yeah, well, that thing with the zucchini was just an accident, really! You know how enthusiastic I get in the kitchen...!"). And the Indigenous stream didn't seem to come up with anything concrete which was quite disappointing.

I did like the ideas of greater freedom of (government) information and community participation in decision making. As well as the ideas that supported Australia being more involved in the region and Australians being more familiar with Asian cultures and languages. Also, of course, the republic and a more modern Australian federation instead of all this federal vs states nonsense.


Anyway... you might think the 'gab-fest' a big waste of time (ie. there perhaps could have been more effort in how aspirations could actually be achieved, and there should have been more 'ordinary' people)... or truly inspirational and the bringer of much 'warm-and-fuzzy'ness!

My view so far is both cynical and optimistic.

I can see how our Kev is able to use this to promote himself politically, but I can also see how, at the very least, it encourages more Australians to become involved in political debates and to feel they, we, have a role in shaping our future. Of course our role is very limited and instigating change is never easy, even for politicians! But really, anything that encourages us to take a step back, to stop and get some perspective on what direction might be best at a local, national, regional and even a global level, can't be such a bad thing.
Even if it merely inspires people (or gives Kev a good excuse to make some major changes - ie. "Hey, you guys wanted this! I'm just making Australia happy.") it's a good thing.

And really I'm envious, it looked like they were having a lot of fun...! Although, as PM Rudd pointed out, it wasn't all inspirational: the 'breakfast box' with the apricot jam bagel apparently was none too flash. Oh, how they've suffered for our well-being! *sniff*

'Australians all let us rejoice...!'

*wipes away tears with national flag*

Oh it just makes ya so proud!!!!