The 2020 Summit to be held in Canberra in April is seen by some as nothing more than a talk fest which can be expected to produce only hot air. Perhaps it might ultimately prove to be a disappointment, but there is the opportunity for the event to be much more productive than some would suggest. Ideas will be put forward, discussed and debated, and proposals will be put on paper. Some of them will turn out to be good ideas, perhaps some of them won’t.
Prime Minister Rudd wants 1000 Australians from a variety of backgrounds to be gathered together to consider ten defined areas of strategic importance to the nation’s future. The ten points will be examined by ten groups of 100 each. The quality of the outcome will obviously be determined to some extent by the process of how the 1000 people are selected. Beyond that, ordinary Australians will also have the opportunity to make submissions via the Summit’s website.
While some will say that we have elected a government to govern for us and it should be up to them to make and implement strategic policies, we should not act as if we have elected a government to absolve us of the responsibility of thinking for ourselves, or of making a contribution. Equally, a good and democratic government will be open, accountable, and consultative. This Summit is an expression of those principles.
Such a gathering could conceivably arrive at conclusions and put forward proposals that might otherwise never exist. The critics who suggest it’s a waste of time are ignoring the fact that ideas can be hard to kill. Even if the government completely ignores the findings of the gathered men and women of the Summit, it would then have to be accountable as to why.
Either way, it’s better and more democratic than not having the Summit.