The 2020 summit: farce or force for the future?

Australia 2020

What were the big ideas emerging from the 2020 Summit? In amongst the calls for reviews of this system and that (after all, calling for a review of something is a mindbogglingly novel idea) and the establishment of commissions here, there and everywhere, there were some interesting ideas, but very few novel ones.

The idea of a citizens’ cabinet online was broached, as was the idea of smart energy and water meters so that people can measure their personal environmental footprint. There were a number of other interesting ideas, but I’d say many of them belong in the private sector (including the smart meter idea). The Healthbook idea, for example, is one that might be useful, but should involve the government as little as possible (i.e., perhaps in a regulatory role only).

After the summit, Tim Costello and Kevin Rudd were accused of hijacking the outcomes document. Some of the delegates say that a few of the top ideas appearing in the outcomes document were barely, or never, discussed. Other delegates complain that they were railroaded by the facilitators.

Overall, I’m incredibly disappointed with the “top ideas” that made the summary document. I’m sure there were other, more novel ideas that were raised which haven’t been included.

The trouble with these sorts of exercises is that either certain people in positions of power get to assert their ideas at the expense of others, or the “top ideas” are actually a kind of lowest common denominator consensus, which means none of the truly great ideas make the cut.