Wasn’t it better during the Howard government, when we weren’t able to quantify how dim Australia’s best and brightest actually were? Or how few ideas they had?
Putting aside completely the merits of the individual proposals, some of the ‘new ideas’ that have been aired include: a republic, an aboriginal treaty, bill of rights, subsidies for energy saving devices, taxes on junk food, etc etc etc.
About the only idea in the list on the SMH website that does not appear every single day in the national media and on talk back radio is the idea that the tax code should be made even more progressive – when most media commentators criticise Australia’s tax system, their criticism isn’t that it is too flat.
When the ideas are not entirely banal they are entirely predictable. The cultural stream wants a national cultural policy, and a culture minister to manage it. Anybody who has ever been to one of the dozens of similar conferences that are held each year around the country will be familiar with the inevitable proposal to have a federal ‘minister for the future’ or something equally as daft.
And yet, the ideas aren’t the point – even the ones that haven’t been rehearsed over and over already in the public sphere.
2020 is a grand spectacle, an elaborate theatrical show complete with movie stars and comedians and passion and energy and geniuses and journalists, all of which is supposed to symbolise the federal government’s break with the dark Howard past. All levels of government and all sectors of the economy are present under the guiding hand of Canberra to work together for a progressive Australian future.
2020 is like a successful version of Brendan Nelson’s listening tour – a publicity stunt designed specifically to fill the Rudd government up with enough political capital to pursue a second and third term. After all, is it really too cynical to believe that this major government conference has a political agenda? (That is, apparently, too much for even the federal opposition to believe)
This weekend just goes to show how utterly credulous Australia’s public intellectuals actually are.
(I wrote about the summit when it was first announced: “Rudd summit puts con into consensus“. I think it holds up.)
Crossposted at chrisberg.org